Few horror franchises have the cultural staying power that the “Evil Dead” series has enjoyed, and even fewer are able to keep their original creators in the fold for this long. While Sam Raimi handed directing duties on the upcoming “Evil Dead Rise” over to Lee Cronin and Bruce Campbell is not starring as Ash, both men are continuing to oversee the franchise as executive producers.
The franchise has been able to survive four decades while spawning five feature films and three seasons of a TV show due in large part to the unique blend of horror and comedy that Raimi and Campbell introduced in 1981’s “The Evil Dead.” The campiness extends to the film’s nonsensically 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 staunchly opposed to the name that they ultimately went with.
In a new interview with Empire, Raimi explained that the film’s iconic title was a complete accident that he tried his best to avoid. He had a longer title planned for the film, but was forced to shorten it in an attempt to save money on newspaper advertising.
“The original title of the [original] movie was ‘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, boys. Advertising space in the newspaper is paid for by the inch, kid. We’re not going to have a five-word title. ‘Dead’ can stay. You can have one other word. You can call it ‘101% Dead’, or ‘Evil Dead’.’”
Raimi went on to say that he hated both options, but ultimately made his choice through the process of elimination.
“I thought, ‘But those are the worst two 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,” he said.“‘101% Dead’? I thought, ‘I’ll die first.’ So I chose the lesser of the two horrible titles. But now I’ve started to like it. It’s pretty good.”
“Evil Dead Rise” opens in theaters on Friday, April 23.