How Stephen King SAVED The Evil Dead
How did Stephen King save The Evil Dead? Put another way, why does Sam Raimi, director of Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness (2022), Drag Me to Hell (2009), and a long list of horror and superhero movies and TV series owe his career to the horror/fantasy/western/memoir legend?
It all starts with Raimi’s breakout movie, The Evil Dead, which almost didn’t happen.
Sam Raimi ‘s The Evil Dead
Dubbed The Evil Dead: The Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror, Sam Raimi’s cult classic is one of the goriest, most brutal, least repentant low budget films in horror movie history.
The Evil Dead the film that made Sam Raimi’s career. This is how Stephen King saved the film.
Where did Stephen King write about Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead?
Stephen King wrote the article that saved The Evil Dead — and Sam Raimi’s career — in an issue of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine. The magazine published the issue in November 1982, and the world of horror has never been the same since.
Back in the DAY: 1980s THROWBACK
This might be hard to believe (for you tadpoles) or remember (for you old frogs), but all that stuff happened in a time when most entertainment was limited to print.
When you subscribed to a magazine, the company delivered it to your house once a month. Once you were through, you either stacked the ‘zines neatly on the porcelain block behind the toilet (with no phones to play with, we always kept reading material on hand in my house), or else you rolled them up and used them to squash mosquitos and spiders until they fell apart.
Stephen King’s Evil Dead Magazine Article
As for me, I have the unfortunate situation of being a Stephen King nerd AND an Evil Dead nerd, so when I found out about this article, I absolutely HAD to HAVE it.
With a little research, I found out the magazine title and publication date – Twilight Zone Magazine, November 1982 – and I bought it online for like $15 US. It’s one of the coolest gifts I’ve ever bought for myself.
Stephen King in 1982
He was already on his way to becoming a literary giant. In 1982, King had already published Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, Cujo, and The Stand.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger (I have written a lot about the Dark Tower) had been published in paperback form a few years before, and was also on its way to hardcover publication that very same year.
So when King returned from the Cannes Film Festival with a rave review about this random low budget horror movie that no one wanted to pick up, people finally started to listen.
The man carried weight (No pun intended. Get it? Carried? No? I’ll see my way out).
Stephen King’s Evil Dead Review
“In Evil Dead the camera has the kind of nightmarish fluidity that we associate with the early John Carpenter; it dips and slides and then zooms in so fast you want to plaster your hands over your eyes”Stephen King, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Magazine, November 1982
According to King, Evil Dead did great internationally, even receiving a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival (also known as the International Film Festival) in the South of France.
That was where King saw The Evil Dead.
Too bad, he laments in his review, that Hollywood seems to think the “day of the raw horror film has passed.”
How wrong those Hollywood bigshots were.
WHY Stephen King SAVED Evil Dead
At the conclusion of Stephen King’s piece, he goes on to write about what a hard, relentless worker Raimi is, yet how simultaneously poor and unlucky:
In the past, Stephen King has written about how he appreciates hard work and dedication in the face of rejection, especially in the horror genre.
In his book, On Writing, Mr. King discusses the importance of tenacity in the face of failure by discussing his rejection slips:
“By the time I was fourteen the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection slips impaled upon it. I replaced the nail with a spike and went on writing.”Stephen King, On Writing
What Does On Writing have to do with Sam Raimi?
If you’ve seen that quote before, then you probably know that it is one of the more famous quotes from On Writing about never giving up.
But it’s not just about that quote; that theme is woven throughout the memoir into the fabric of its pages.
Whether he’s telling you about how he used to write in the back of his trailer when he had no money, how overjoyed he was when he got his first written rejection with advice, or how grateful he was when he got his first book deal while working as a teacher, you can tell he’s the kind of guy who appreciates hard work and tenacity.
And that, I think, is why Stephen King went out of his way to stand up for Raimi.
More…A Lot More
If you’re interested in reading more about Stephen King’s On Writing, I wrote a little comparison between S.K. ‘s writing tips and the style of writer Conn Iggulden, who wrote a great historical fiction series about Genghis Khan and the mongolians.
If you’d like to read more about Sam Raimi, I should be finishing up a listicle about his superhero movies within the next couple of days, so stick around for that.
For Horror, visit my home page (and subscribe) at Dailysack.com.
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