Within The Woods (1978)

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Overall Rating 63%
Overall Rating
Ranked #7,076
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Connections: The Evil Dead

A group of friends spend a weekend at a remote cabin, and one of them accidentally desecrates an Indian burial ground. This causes him to turn into a zombie, and kill off his friends. They must band together to try and survive being massacred. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: May 6, 2008
Over the course of the last year or so, people have been bitching and moaning about the announced remake of The Evil Dead, but what most of these people don't know is that The Evil Dead itself was a remake. Well, sort of. You see, our good pal Sam Raimi had an idea for a film, but unfortunately for him, he didn't quite have the money to actually make said film. So, he shot the short film Within the Woods in order to show off some of the ideas that would eventually reappear in The Evil Dead (and more importantly, to attract potential investors), and apparently, somebody saw this thirty minute film and threw some money his way. With his financial troubles taken care of, he'd take the best ideas from this film, flesh out the storyline, change a couple of things here and there, and the result would be the cult classic that we all know and love.

Four friends - Bruce (Bruce Campbell), Ellen (Ellen Sandweiss), Scotty (Scott Spiegel), and Shelly (Mary Valenti) - decide to take a weekend vacation together, and what better place to spend it than at a remote farmhouse? It all starts innocently enough: Scotty and Shelly decide to stay inside and play Monopoly together, while Bruce and Ellen figure that a picnic in the middle of the woods is the best way to spend their day. Bruce then proceeds to tell his girlfriend that the place where they're settling down to eat just so happens to be an ancient Indian burial ground, and yes, anyone who disturbs these graves will fall victim to the curse that has been placed on it. He then sees an old dagger and digs it up, and wouldn't you know it - this dagger was buried alongside a medicine man, and the curse is officially set into motion. From there... well, if you've seen The Evil Dead (and who hasn't?), you'll basically know how the rest of the film plays out, but there are some surprises along the way.

Let's just get this out of the way upfront: this film is only for the serious fans of Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy. This is because Within the Woods is only available as a bootleg due to Raimi using copyrighted music in the film, and the only bootleg that exists comes from what appears to be a tenth-generation copy of an old VHS tape. I'm sure that Raimi has a better quality version tucked away in his vaults somewhere, but that one will almost certainly never see the light of day, and as a result, the only way that you're going to see this is in an almost unwatchable bootleg form. Serious fans will be able to overlook the quality issue, but those of you who only have a casual interest in the series would be well advised to skip right on over this one as it's really quite painful to sit through at times.

Quality issues aside, the actual film is surprisingly good with all things considered: it was never intended to be a "real" film (again, it was made to attract investors), it's a very early effort from all involved, and the budget clocked in at just a little over three figures. Regardless of all that, Raimi showed that he definitely had some talent, and with the help of special effects wizard Tom Sullivan, the man proved that he would be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. Most of the interesting camera tricks and unique cinematography that Raimi is known for is present here, and although the storyline is heavily condensed, it worked out as nicely as one could have hoped for. Within the Woods may have been a "demo tape" of sorts, but that certainly didn't detract from the quality of the film itself.

On the acting side of things, we've got Bruce Campbell who... well, he's Bruce Campbell. I'm trying not to head into spoiler territory or anything, but let's just say that he doesn't get a whole lot of screen time to really show why he'd eventually become a cult icon. He turns in a much more subdued performance than what we're used to, but it really would have been nice to have seen a little more of him. The real star of the show here is Ellen Sandweiss as she was the main character for this outing (I told you that the storyline was modified), and she turned in a perfectly acceptable performance as the heroine in distress. I wouldn't go so far as to label her performance as highly memorable and I don't think that I could refer to her as a true scream queen, but at the same time, she was above average here.

Overall, it's a fun little film that fans of the Evil Dead series will almost certainly love. It doesn't quite rank up there with any of the films from the trilogy and it's far from being a classic, but anyone who has ever dropped an Ash quote owes it to themselves to see where it all started. 8/10.
Tristan #1: Tristan - added May 6, 2008 at 11:12pm
Saw this years ago in a horrendous downloaded format. Still, it was quite funny, and like Chad said, it's more or less a short film version of The Evil Dead. 7/10
Nirrad #2: Nirrad - added May 6, 2008 at 11:55pm
Where can I get this? Does it have an official DVD? I heard so much about it, but have yet to see it.
Chad #3: Chad - added May 7, 2008 at 12:11am
Good job reading the review.
Nirrad #4: Nirrad - added May 7, 2008 at 12:17am
Lol. Not gonna lie to ya, I rarely read reviews. I probably only read about 10.
Crispy #5: Crispy - added May 7, 2008 at 12:22am
Shit, read his comments on my Leprechaun 4 review, then read the review. Also, I want to point out how disturbing it is that a toilet full of shit is actually a welcome change.
Nirrad #6: Nirrad - added May 7, 2008 at 12:28am
Fuck, Lol. I should really start reading these before I make an idiotic post. Ah well. My next picture is an homage to my old.
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