Roughly Translated, “Book of The Dead” (2015 Retrocast)
(As a big fan of the work of both Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell, WTBC Radio has decided to bring you an audio treat, in representing 1981’s “The Evil Dead” as part of our Annual Halloween Spook-tacular!)
Playlist & Footnotes:
There would be very few things anyone could say about The Evil Dead that hasn’t been week chronicled elsewhere, and if you don’t know the story, it’s worth seeking out the detailed (and extrapolated) version. These guys – Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi & Bruce Campbell – had been making movies on their own for years, showing them to friends and on college campuses, and largely recouping their investments. It seemed plausible that they could make a feature, and raised all the money themselves, sealing every deal along the way to get funding and distribution for an essentially “home-made” film that has their DNA and fingerprints all over every inch of the final product that made it into theaters.
The miraculous component is that, in spite of everything, they managed to get some genuine scares into a pictures that was, essentially, a far-from-Hollywood production. I believe this is owed largely to the sound of the film, mixed and produced by the same creative core, and included atmosphere and texture that some creators overlook. They knew where their strengths and weaknesses lay, and with a few well-timed scares, a good soundtrack to keep everything moving forward, and plenty of fake blood, they had a little hit on their hands, and now the franchise has not only spawned remakes and sequels, but an upcoming TV show that will continue the story of these hapless characters that wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
However, there is something special about this first film. Where all the other films that followed had a very ’80’s feel to the work, this movie is 100% rooted in the spirit and feel of the ’70’s. Every inch of the aesthetic screams that decade, and the bits that these three are inspired by are the low-budget movies that were being churned in the wake of the Hammer Horror films that were making the circuits in those days. Looking at The Evil Dead is like looking at a time capsule of a sensibility of a time long since past. The tree-rape scene is something that would be hard to get into a modern film without a lot of push-back, and most likely the creators of something like that would not go on to direct three Spider-Man movies. It is telling that a movie like this was updated for comic effect in the sequels. Where the terror of this film is brutal from start to finish, their comedic beats were stronger, and made for something that really had never been seen on film before or since.
For this program, I selected a number of “evil” and “dead” songs to complement the story.
Roughly Translated, “Book of The Dead”
“Which Would Put Us…” / “Join Us!” / “What’s This Place Like?” / The Drive In / “There’s Something Down There.” / “Listen To This” / “The Ruins of Kandar.” / “A Volume of Ancient Sumerian Burial Practices & Funerary Incantations” / “I Just Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore, That’s All.”
01.) Better Off Dead * The Wipers * Better Off Dead 7″
02.) See No Evil * Television * Marquee Moon
03.) Dawning of The Dead * Dead Moon * Dead Ahead
04.) Young Men Dead * The Black Angels * Passover
05.) Evil * Horde Of Two * Guitar & Bass Action
“Hey, C’mon. I Just Want To Hear The Rest Of It.” / “Shut It OFF!” / “She Acts Like She’s Three Years Old Or Something.” / “Is Anybody Out There?” / “Whatever I Have Resurrected Will Come Calling For Me” / “One By One We Will Take You!” / “I Don’t Think I Can Wait That Long.” / “For God’s Sake, What Happened To Her Eyes!?” / “We’re Got To Bury Her Now.” / “Where Did I See That Box of Shells?”
06.) Everyone I Went To High School With Is Dead * Mr. Bungle * Disco Volate
07.) Dead Souls * Nomeanso * The Day Everything Became Nothing
08.) Better Off Dead * Piglet * Not Ralphing At Your First Keg Party
09.) In Love With The Dead * Behead The Prophet No Lord Shall Live * Behead The Prophet No Lord Shall Live 7″
10.) Where Dead People Live * Sun City Girls * Carnival Folklore Resurrection Vol 1: Cameo Demons and Their Manifestations
11.) Bury Your Dead * Orkestar Zirkonium * Orkestar Zirkonium
12.) Day Of The Dead * Lester Bangs & The Delinquents * Jook Savages On The Brazos
13.) Pretty Chords For Evil Sleep People * Bishop Of Battle * Prequel Plus
14.) Evil Will Prevail * The Flaming Lips * Clouds Taste Metallic