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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Evil Dead 1982 Plot Summary

Featured Image For The Evil Dead 1982 Plot Summary.   Poster of "The Evil Dead" featuring a woman being pulled into the ground with a desperate outstretched hand.
Terror rises from the earth in 'The Evil Dead,' where the deadites drag their victims to a gruesome fate.

In 1981, a cinematic storm brewed in the horror genre with the release of "The Evil Dead." Directed by Sam Raimi, this film thrust audiences into a relentless nightmare, etched forever in the annals of horror history. The plot, steeped in atmospheric dread and visceral terror, follows five Michigan State University students who venture into the secluded woods for what they anticipate to be an idyllic weekend retreat. Instead, they stumble upon an ancient tome known as the Book of the Dead, or the Morturom Demonto—an arcane Babylonian and Sumerian text distinct from its Egyptian namesake.

The ominous discovery occurs in the dim, foreboding basement of their isolated cabin, where the group unearths a tape recording of demonic incantations. Unwittingly, they play the recording, setting off a chain of malevolent events as the slumbering demons are awakened, their thirst for vengeance palpable. The professor’s eerie voice on the tape warns of his wife’s possession by these awakened entities and stresses the gruesome necessity of dismembering the possessed to halt their deadly rampage.

The malevolence first seizes Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), who endures a brutal assault by the evil force, manifesting through the very trees surrounding the cabin. Her ordeal, laden with intense, bloody violence and harrowing voice-overs, leaves her traumatized. Despite her frantic return to the cabin, her brother Ash (Bruce Campbell) and the others dismiss her tale as hysterical. Determined to find safety for Cheryl, Ash attempts to drive her into town, only to discover the sole road bridge destroyed, its supports grotesquely twisted into the shape of a monstrous hand.

Cheryl’s descent into demonic possession is swift and savage, marked by her stabbing Linda (Betsy Baker) in the ankle with a pencil. The group locks Cheryl in the cellar, but the demonic contagion spreads. Shelly (Theresa Tilly) soon succumbs, launching a vicious attack on Scotty (Richard DeManincor), who is forced to dismember her with an axe in a frenzied bid for survival. The dismembered body parts are wrapped in a blanket and buried, yet the horror is far from over. Scotty ventures into the woods, seeking an escape route.

Inside the cabin, Ash checks on Linda, only to find her also possessed. Scotty returns, grievously injured by the malevolent trees, but manages to reveal a trail in the woods before collapsing. Linda, momentarily appearing normal, deceives Ash, only to attack him again.

Ash drags her outside, intent on using a chainsaw to end her misery, but ultimately buries her instead. The relentless Linda rises from her grave, prompting Ash to behead her with a shovel in a desperate act of self-preservation. Her severed head, still animate, taunts Ash as her body continues its relentless pursuit.

The tension escalates as the cellar door creaks open, unleashing further chaos. Cheryl attempts to break in through a window, but Ash fends her off with his shotgun, only to realize she is far from defeated. He barricades himself within the cabin, seeking solace in the cellar where a macabre series of events unfolds—blood fills the cellar, and disembodied voices plague his mind.

As Cheryl and Scotty’s reanimated corpses launch a final assault, Ash's desperation peaks. Amidst the chaos, he notices the Book of the Dead has fallen into the fireplace. Seizing his chance, Ash hurls the book into the flames, triggering a climactic exorcism as the demons scream and disintegrate, their reign of terror ending as dawn breaks.

Ash, the lone survivor, stumbles outside, believing the nightmare over. Yet, the relentless evil force charges at him, leaving the screen to fade to black as Ash’s face contorts in sheer terror. This chilling conclusion cements "The Evil Dead" as a masterclass in horror, a visceral symphony of fear that continues to captivate and horrify audiences to this day.


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