Risking it All for Guts and Chainsaws Will Drive You Crazy
The cult classic fan base around The Evil Dead almost didn’t exist. The leading roll of Ash played by Bruce Campbell, was a college drop out who had just quit his job as a taxi driver. The director Sam Raimi was studying literature at Michigan State University with Rob Tapert who suggested doing a feature length film with Raimi. Having worked together before on minuscule projects, Raimi got together with Bruce Campbell, but was concerned about raising the funds for the project. Pulling themselves together for the project, the three set out to make the impossible film. Campbell was thrown through the ringer as Ash and suffered minor injuries throughout the shoot.
The slapstick side of the film brought about a new vision in horror and formed a basis for The Evil Dead culture. The chainsaw wielding Ash wouldn’t come about until the sequel in Evil Dead 2 which was viewed by some as a remake. Fans were confused because the intro makes it appear as if Ash was returning to the same cabin as if nothing happened. Bruce Campbell put this to rest by explaining that they no longer had the rights to the first Evil Dead after distribution, so they had to re-film the recap in the beginning.
Ash would be adapted in pop culture as an eccentric character in other forms of media such as Hoss Delgado in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. A mash up of Evil Dead’s Ash and Escape from New York’s Snake Plissken.
Considering Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi are friends, Raimi continued to put Campbell through the ringer in Army of Darkness where Ash gets sent back to the medieval times to defend ancient earth against the same demons that he fought at the cabin. Bruce, now having a strong career as an actor due to the risky first film that got him started, he began to give it back to Raimi by messing with him at every turn.
The most note worthy stunt, was that Campbell told the art department to use Raimi’s beloved car as the base for the chariot in the film in the hopes that it would be destroyed enough that Raimi would have to stop using it. While this infuriated Raimi, he knew that this was in good fun as the car was part of a long standing inside joke. In a nut shell, Raimi wanted the car in every film and Campbell hated the car. The interesting thing is that the car itself was broken down at this point, and only the interior shell remained. The rest of this vehicle in the film was made from new parts.