A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The characters here seem like badly-behaved college students, going away for a weekend of drinking, sex, and partying. They blunder into the wrong place at the wrong time and pay dearly. There are no warnings or moral decisions involved; what happens is just pure bad luck.
Positive Role Models
Not anyone you would want your teens to emulate. Ash is a bit of a buffoon, and at first he's just one of the college students looking for a good time. But he tries to begin a serious relationship with his girlfriend (before she's possessed by a demon). He has a difficult time dealing with his former friends after they become possessed and try to kill him; he has a conscience. Later, he faces his fears and fights his way to survival (sort of).
Female characters are presented as "irrational," and the first to fall victim to demonic possession, as the men, while liable to appear goofy and prone to "practical jokes," are presented as strong, capable, and the only characters who can save the day.
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Violence & Scariness
Horror movie violence and gore. In perhaps the most infamous scene from the movie, a woman exploring the surrounding woods of the cabin where she and her friends are staying is attacked by a tree. Vines wrap around her wrists and ankles before they spread her legs, and a vine goes between her legs before she manages to escape. Characters stabbed with pencils, swords -- gory and graphic. Axe dismemberment. When zombified, characters chew off their own hands. Thumbs to the eyes of the zombies. Characters thrown into walls. Horrific noises and demonic voices throughout. Zombies claw faces, claw legs, draw considerable blood. Zombie decapitation. Shotgun fired at zombies. Jump scares throughout. Characters decay into dust as roaches crawl over them.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
There are two college-age couples in a cabin, and so there's kissing, and characters on the verge of having sex. Partial, brief, nonsexual nudity (breasts).
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Infrequent mild profanity. " Hell," "bastards."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The college students drink something from a jar while driving, and then wine at dinner before all the trouble starts. They also pass around what appears to be a joint at dinner.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Evil Dead is a classic 1981 horror movie in which a group of college students staying in a remote cabin awaken evil spirits that bring the dead back to life. While it's one of the defining classics of low-budget horror, the blood, gore, and demonic imagery, among other things, make this movie unsuitable for kids. In perhaps the most infamous scene from the movie, one of the women, while exploring the surrounding woods, is tied down by vines from a tree and nearly raped before she manages to escape (brief nudity, breasts). Axe decapitation and dismemberment. Gory stabbings with pencils and swords. Characters clawed in the legs and face. Thumbs press into eye sockets. Zombies shot with a shotgun. When the college students become "the evil dead," they emit horrific sounds and demonic laughing likely to cause nightmares for more sensitive viewers. During dinner, characters pass a joint around, drink alcohol. While the special effects are primitive by today's standards, they show characters decaying into dust as roaches crawl over them. In terms of stereotyping, the female characters usually act helpless and are perceived by the men as being overly emotional before they are the first to succumb to demonic possession; the men are goofy and fond of practical jokes, but are also presented as the only ones strong and capable enough to save the day. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This low-budget wonder shows a major director, Sam Raimi, emerging fully-formed, pouring imagination and energy into every frame of his feature debut. No other genre movie at the time moved quite as well as this one, with creepy, wide-angle shots, crazy movement within the frame, razor-precise editing, and an eerie, nightmare-inducing sound design. It also upped the ante on movie gore, cheerfully throwing in gallons of gushing, spewing blood, twitching, severed body parts, chainsaws, axes, shotguns; and he stopped the show with a truly horrifying sequence of a woman raped by a tree.
Aside from that sequence, The Evil Dead has a deadpan silliness that was new to the otherwise dark, foreboding horror genre. It's equal parts Three Stooges and Night of the Living Dead. It made a cult star out of Bruce Campbell, whose stoic, yet rubbery face and body seemed to follow the unique rhythms of the movie itself. It's streamlined, ageless, and undiluted, unquestionably a drive-in masterpiece. It's just not for kids!
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.