OK, Evil Deadites! Here you go. You already know this stuff, but for everyone else, here's the rundown. Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi and his brother Ted Raimi all went to high school together in Beverly Hills... Beverly Hills, Michigan. Anyway, this is where they first started making short films together on the Super 8. Evil Dead was the result of all of their previous efforts.
• The movie, even up through the first screening of it, was called Book of the Dead.
• The opening shot of the movie was constructed by Bruce Campbell pushing Sam Raimi on a raft through the swamp.
• Some of the guts were made out of Alpo dog food.
• The sound effects were recorded in a studio by Bruce and Sam Raimi - basically, any time something happened to flesh (ripping, skinning, hitting, etc.), they did the same thing to chicken. They used a turkey baster to make blood spurt noises, and walnuts and celery were perfect for breaking bones. The sound of rustling leaves was made by using quarter-inch recording tape.
• It took about 18 months to film the first movie alone.
• The idea for the book of the dead - the Necronomicon - originally came from H.P. Lovecraft, of course. When Sam heard his ancient history professor talking about Sumerian culture, he was sort of zoning out, as you tend to do in classes like that. But when she dropped the phrase, "Sumerian Book of the Dead", Sam perked up. So his book of the dead was really a combination of the two.
• The movie opened in 1983 during the same weekend as Flashdance. For some reason, that amuses me.
• When we first watched Evil Dead and I saw Sam Raimi's name, I was a little incredulous. "Spiderman Sam Raimi?" I said. My husband just looked at me like I was an idiot. Yes, Spiderman Sam Raimi. In fact, Bruce Campbell has had cameos in all of the Spiderman movies. In #1, he was the wrestling announcer who coined Spiderman's name. In #2, he played the stuck-up usher who makes fun of how shabby Peter Parker looks and makes him late to Mary Jane's performance. And in the third installment, he's the maitre d' who helps Peter propose to Mary Jane.
• The cabin really was an abandoned cabin, located in Morristown, Tenn. But you won't find it there today, because it burned down sometime after filming. Sam Raimi claims he did it himself, but Bruce Campbell is vaguer about what happened. Apparently, the movie crew buried a time capsule at the site of the cabin. It consisted of little trinkets from the movie and notes from the cast and crew, but it has never been found. It may have been destroyed when the cabin burned down.
• Ash's car in the movie, a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta, was actually Sam Raimi's car. Raimi has managed to work that car into every movie he has ever made, with the exception of The Quick and the Dead. Bruce Campbell jokes (we think) that a wagon cover was made to go over the car just to get it in the movie, styled after an old Western.
• When the possessed people ooze or squirt out that weird white substance, don't be too grossed out: it's just 2% milk.
I know there's a lot more Evil Dead trivia, but I picked some of my favorites. Feel free to add your favorites, if I missed them, in the comments.
I love Hitchcock, as you’ve probably noticed from a couple of other posts. Psycho was a novel before it was a movie. Alfred Hitchcock bought the rights to it for only $9,000. Same general plot, with a few tweaks here and there by the Master of Suspense.
• The book was followed by two sequels - Psycho II (not to be confused with the movie, which was totally different) and Psycho House. Psycho II involved Norman escaping the asylum and going to Hollywood, but is a little freaked out because it seems as if the whole world is crazier than he ever was. In Psycho House, the Bates Motel is opened up as a tourist attraction - of course, mayhem and murder ensue. I may have to look into these.
• Like so many other works of horror, this one was partially based on serial killer Ed Gein. Author Robert Bloch lived only 35 miles away from where Gein was arrested, so it's easy to see where the inspiration came from. Bloch later claimed that he knew the case but purposely didn't read the details. When he did, years later, he was surprised at how much Gein and Norman Bates were alike.
• Anthony Perkins came up with Norman Bates' tic of constantly munching on candy corn.
• Hitch liked to hide various incarnations of Mrs. Bates in Janet Leigh's dressing room. There are several different reasons he would have done this. Janet Leigh speculates that it was done to keep her on edge and make her act anxious during her three weeks on the set. Hitchcock once said he was testing the different dolls - whichever one made Janet scream the loudest would end up being the winner. And the third reason is, well, Hitch just had a dark sense of humor (obviously).
• The famous shower scene owes its realism to food - the blood was Bosco chocolate syrup, and the stabbing sound was made by plunging a knife into a Casaba melon.
• Even though the movie was shot in black and white, people very vividly remembered seeing the vibrant red blood - a true testament to the powers of imagination.
• The Bates house was based on the Edward Hopper painting "House by the Railroad". I was briefly an art major in college and was quite familiar with Hopper’s work, but never made that connection.
• After the movie was shown to the public, a bunch of ophthalmologists wrote in and noted how the murder scene was not realistic because Janet Leigh's pupils weren't dilated, and a corpse's pupils dilate after death. Hitch solved the problems in post-Psycho movies by using drops that had the desired effect.
• It was the first movie in the U.S. to show a toilet flushing on the camera.
• Hitchcock insisted that people could not be allowed into the movie late. He even wrote it into the contracts of the movie theater owners.
I thought about going with Blair Witch for the last one, but after looking them both up, I thought this one seemed more interesting. I do remember sneaking out of yearbook camp in high school (yeah, I went to yearbook camp. Shut up.) to go see Blair Witch... ah, I digress. Back to the murderous doll.
• Charles Lee Ray, the murderer whose spirit takes over the adorable "Good Guy" doll is named after three infamous killers - Charles Manson, Lee Harvey Oswald, and James Earl Ray. Why does it seem like so many killers are known by all three names? Mark David Chapman, John Wilkes Booth, John Wayne Gacy, the two above. Hmm.
• Supposedly the Good Guys line of toys was based on My Buddy, which I can totally see. Those things were creepy. But writer and Chucky creator Don Mancini said Chucky's look was inspired by Cabbage Patch Kids. However, because I can still remember the My Buddy theme song and will probably have it stuck in my head all day, I’m subjecting you to the same thing:
• Don Mancini was pushed to write the third Child’s Play before the second one had even been released. To this date, it’s his least favorite – he felt that the plot was lacking because he was out of ideas so soon after Child’s Play 2.
• That was the look, but the idea itself came from an episode of The Twilight Zone called "Living Doll". As you might imagine, it featured a doll that came to life, although this one was a female named Talky Tina. The episode starred Telly Savalas, who said that the plot really creeped him out.
• Brad Dourif, the voice of Chucky since the original movie, has had a long career in horror. His credits include The Hitchhiker, The Exorcist III, Graveyard Shift, Critters IV, Alien: Resurrection, Urban Legend and Rob Zombie's Halloween.
• The producer, David Kirschner, also produced a bunch of kids' movies, which is kind of funny to me. Among them are An American Tail (my absolute favorite as a kid), Fievel Goes West, The Flintstones, Hocus Pocus, Curious George and Cats Don't Dance. Yes, Cats Don't Dance.
• The first movie was filmed at The Brewster in Chicago. Charlie Chaplin used to live in the penthouse there.
• Mancini and co. are working on a remake of the original right now, with Brad Dourif scheduled to voice Chucky again (with a brief part as the human version of Charles Lee Ray, as in the original). Even though a CGI Chucky could easily be made, Mancini says Chucky will remain animatronic.