Few horror franchises have the cultural staying power that the “Evil Dead” series has enjoyed, and even fewer can sustain their original creators for so long. While Sam Raimi has handed over directorial duties for the upcoming “Evil Dead Rise” to Lee Cronin, and Bruce Campbell will not be reprising his role as Ash, both men will continue to oversee the franchise as executive producers.
The franchise was able to survive four decades while spawning five feature films and three seasons of TV, thanks in large part to the unique blend of horror and comedy that Raimi and Campbell delivered in 1981’s “The Evil Dead.” The campiness extends to the film’s pointlessly reductive title, which you’d be forgiven for thinking was a stroke of marketing genius on their part. But as it turns out, Raimi and Campbell originally had a different title in mind — and were adamantly opposed to the name they ended up going with.
In a new interview with him Empire, Raimi explained that the film’s iconic title was a complete accident that he did his best to avoid. He planned a longer title for the film, but was forced to shorten it to save money on newspaper ads.
“The (original) movie was originally called ‘The Book Of The Dead,'” Raimi said. “But film sales agent Irvin Shapiro sat Rob, Bruce and I down and said, ‘We’re changing the title, guys. Advertising space in the newspaper is paid for by the inch, kid. We won’t have a five-word title. The “dead” can stay. Maybe one more word. You can call it “101% dead” or “evil dead”.
Raimi said he hated both options, but ultimately decided through a process of elimination.
“I thought, ‘But those are the two worst titles I’ve ever heard in my life!’ “Evil Dead” sucks! How can something be evil and dead? I just thought it was so stupid, she said. “101% dead”? I thought, “I’ll die first.” So I chose the lesser of the two horrible titles. But now I’m starting to love it. That’s pretty good.”
Evil Dead Rise hits theaters on Friday, April 23rd.