If you're coming late to the party for The Evil Dead, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. You may pop the movie into your DVD player, watch the first awkwardly-shot sequence, in which five friends drive to an isolated cabin in the woods, and giggle at how amateurish it looks. You may watch the next few scenes, in which the friends settle into the cabin, stumble upon an old tape recording, listen to a man on tape solemnly describing his discovery of an ancient Book of the Dead and how his wife turned into a demon and bodily dismemberment became necessary, and start to question why anyone would think this piece of crap was any kind of a horror classic.
But maybe you were amused by Bruce Campbell mugging as Ash, or noticed the myriad fresh camera angles presenting the action, or the extreme close-ups on eyes, or liked the low-budget aesthetic, and decided to give it a chance. And then one of the five friends wanders out into the woods, against all common sense, and the woods attack her -- yes, that's right, the woods attack her -- and she barely escapes back into the cabin, and then one by one the friends start turning into demons, and bodily dismemberment becomes a viable solution. And then you might say to yourself, "Ah, that's why."
Sam Raimi (writer/director), Robert Tapert (producer) and Bruce Campbell (actor/co-executive producer) had been making 8mm movies in Michigan before tackling their first feature, a micro-budget horror movie that they envisioned as a "quintessential drive-in movie," and The Evil Dead works best as a communal experience, where audiences tend to laugh at the amateurish seams, scream at the blood and gore, and then start laughing at the blood and gore simply because it's so over the top that laughter is the only appropriate response. But Raimi, especially, was disappointed that people laughed, because he intended to make a straightforward horror flick.