Sam Raimi and his friends made several short films before "The Evil Dead."
Before The Evil Dead was first conceived, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and other friends were regularly making non-horror short films on Super-8 cameras, including The James Hoffa Story (a Three Stooges-esque slapstick comedy), James Bombed (a 007 spoof), and The Happy Valley Kid (a dark comedy about a college outcast who wears a cowboy outfit and starts shooting people).
Sam Raimi directed the horror short "Within the Woods" before "The Evil Dead."
The Evil Dead wasn't the first Renaissance Pictures (the production company started by Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert) horror project set around trees. In spring 1979, to drum up investors' interest in funding what would become The Evil Dead, Raimi made the $1,600, 32-minute short Within the Woods, shot in Super 8 on Tapert's family farm.
The original title was "Book of the Dead."
The original title for 1981's The Evil Dead was Book of the Dead.
One of the original film's alternate titles was "These Bitches are Witches."
The Evil Dead wasn't the only option for a new title. Other possibilities included: The Evil Dead Men and the Evil Dead Women, Fe-Monsters, Blood Flood, and These Bitches Are Witches.
The actors smoked real marijuana during one scene.
During the scene in which characters listen to an old recording, the original plan was for them to be smoking marijuana. When the actors smoked pot for real, though, their stoned, unruly behavior ruined the scene, leading to the removal of all sticky icky from the script and ultimately the film.
Tom Savini saw some early footage in Sam Raimi's editing room.
While shooting The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi, dressed in a suit, randomly met makeup effects legend Tom Savini outside of a movie theater. Raimi excitedly asked Savini if he would take a look at the unfinished movie in their editing room. The scene they showed him: the dead body melting down into gooey clay, the film's big effects shot.
Sam Raimi puts a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 in all of his movies.
Beginning with The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi's first car, a 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, has appeared in all of his films. In Army of Darkness, it's decked out in all kinds of medieval weaponry.
Stephen King wrote a magazine review of "The Evil Dead" in 1982.
Stephen King was so blown away by his first time seeing The Evil Dead at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival that he wrote a glowing review of the film in the November '82 issue of Twilight Zone magazine.
Peter Jackson cites "The Evil Dead" as one of his biggest influences.
Peter Jackson—Oscar-nominated director of The Lords of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—cites The Evil Dead as a major influence. "It made me think, God, I could do that," says Jackson. "I was old enough, I had a 16mm camera, and here comes a horror movie that somebody of similar age made with a 16mm camera."
"The Evil Dead" is one of the most infamous "video nasties."
In 1985, censors in the United Kingdom banned The Evil Dead, turning it into one of the most infamous "video nasties"—low-budget horror flicks deemed unsuitable for most audiences by the British Board of Film Censors—of all time. This came two years after 49 seconds had to be cut in order to secure an X-rating for its UK theatrical release.
Joel Coen was an assistant editor on "The Evil Dead."
Joel Coen—one-half of the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers directing team—was an assistant editor on The Evil Dead.
Irvin Shapiro was the first to suggest a sequel.
Film producer Irvin Shapiro was the first person to suggest a sequel, complete with a working title: Evil Dead II: Army of Darkness.
"Crimewave" prompted Sam Raimi's decision to pursue an "Evil Dead" sequel.
Evil Dead II exists primarily due to Sam Raimi and producer Rob Tapert's bad experience making the dark comedy Crimewave (1985), co-written by Raimi and Joel and Ethan Coen. That film's commercial failure, coupled with the distributor's call to not use Bruce Campbell as the lead, made a Campbell-starring Evil Dead sequel that much more appealing.
Stephen King convinced producer Dino De Laurentiis to make "Evil Dead II."
Stephen King was also instrumental in getting Evil Dead II made. The author had a multi-movie deal with producer Dino De Laurentiis, and when he found out that Raimi wasn't able to finance the sequel, King told De Laurentiis that he should get into the Evil Dead business.
Scenes from "The Evil Dead" were recreated in "Evil Dead II" due to rights issues.
Since Raimi and company weren't able to secure the rights to show scenes from The Evil Dead, their plan to include a brief recap at the beginning of Evil Dead II had to be rethought. The solution: Recreate the scenes, which has caused some people to think the sequel is a remake. It's not.