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Raising the Dead

Fans and filmmakers resurrect some cult classics.


Talk to people who worked on the 1981 cult classic The Evil Dead, and you get different opinions regarding the chilly Tennessee location. Actor Bruce Campbell recalls, "Until I worked on another shoot, I didn't know how much [filming The Evil Dead] sucked. The shooting conditions were abysmal. We were freezing and covered in Karo syrup. It was a long, miserable winter."

Yet Tom Sullivan, who created the makeup, stop-motion animation, and special effects for the movie, remembers cheerier times. "It was like a working party," he says. "Everybody was so enthusiastic that we were working on a movie. There were no egos, no clashes, no control freaks. Everything was geared toward turning out this film."

He'll relive his experiences this week at The Evil Dead reunion, the centerpiece of the Twisted Nightmare Weekend, a three-day gathering of horror films, fans, vendors, and autograph hounds. More than half a dozen cast and crew members from the movie will be there sharing memories. (Campbell, originally scheduled to appear, is no longer participating.)

When Sam Raimi (who went on to make two Evil Dead sequels as well as the Spider-Man films) gathered a bunch of friends in 1979 to make a movie about a group of kids who stumble on the "Book of the Dead" and proceed to literally unleash hell, none of them had any real experience making a movie. Says Sullivan, now a Michigan-based filmmaker and artist: "We thought if it played in a couple drive-ins down South for a weekend, we'd be ecstatic."

The success of the film prompted a 1987 sequel, Evil Dead II, which basically reformatted the original on a bigger budget. "That one was frustrating," says Sullivan. "Everything was micromanaged. Instead of being left to develop things on our own, we'd do something and have to do it over and over again, until we finally got what we needed. It was one of the worst working experiences I ever had. Nothing at all like the other one."

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