Within The Woods: The Precursor to the Evil Dead

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In 1978 three friends in their early twenties shot a short film called Within The Woods. This film was used as a selling tool for investors in order to get funding for a feature length film. It was made for almost no money and was never intended to be seen outside of friends and investors. Luckily, investors loved the short and the three friends were able to make the feature that would go down in horror history. The friends? Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce “The Chin” Campbell. The film? Evil Dead. Since writing my review for The Evil Dead Anthology back in January, where I talked about how the set didn’t include this short, I have been asked a few times if it is available to watch somewhere. Well, we did the digging for you and here is the NSFW video below:

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It always blows my mind watching this, not only seeing very young versions of Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss, but also seeing the seed that would become Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. Everything from the ominous camera staggering fluidly through the woods, to the creepy sound design, Bruce Campbell being abused at Sam Raimi’s delight, and even Scotty still kind of being useless. There are shots/sequences the would be reused for the rest of the franchise and an ending that is both ambiguous and dark that would later become a franchise trademark.

Bruce proving to be the King of being tortured at a young age

Bruce proving to be the King of being tortured on screen at a young age

It is great to see the genesis of what would be my favorite film series starting here. Admittedly, the quality isn’t the best for this video and it never will. The short was never intended to be seen publicly and few copies remain of it. In fact, this version was taken from a 16mm print of it that was transferred to VHS that was then digitized. Through of it the print was beaten and handled roughly. With transfer issues aside, its still awesome seeing the seed that will grow into the Evil Dead series and a good way to get pumped for ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD!

Nap time

Nap time

To learn more about the history and making of Within The Woods and the other Evil Dead movies buy The Evil Dead Companion

Check out the latest on Ash VS. The Evil Dead HERE

And don’t forget our recent interview with Tom Sullivan!