Review of the ULTIMATE EDITION on DVD:
Just when you thought your Book of the Dead Edition, with its soothingly spongy Necronomicon carrying case, had filled your lifetime Evil Dead needs, along comes Anchor Bay with THE EVIL DEAD: THE ULTIMATE EDITION featuring 4 hours of brand new features. Fans will understandably balk at the ballsiness of another EVIL DEAD DVD release from Anchor Bay, a movie that has seen 5 different DVD incarnations in the past 10 years, while others may appreciate the distributor’s attention to the film’s constantly growing cult fan base.
Visitors to bloody-disgusting are certainly familiar with the plight of Ash and company as they “unleash the forces that roam the forests and dark bowers of man’s domain” while staying at a cabin in rural Tennessee, so I won’t waste anybody’s time with a plot summary or a load of masturbatory Raimi adulation when it’s really the extras that are worth discussing, or defending, depending on your perspective.
This 3-disc set includes both the widescreen version and full-frame version of the film. Raimi shot the movie at 1:1.37 and it was matted at the time of projection, so the full-frame version—vastly different than “full-screen” or “pan-and-scan” releases—features the entire 35mm frame, and much like the full-frame version of EYES WIDE SHUT, it’s the version I prefer. But I’m certainly not in the mood to throw down with that constantly roving posse of 16 X 9 Anamorphic Gang-bangers, so I’ll let it drop. This edition also includes nearly an hour of deleted scenes and fragments, looped together into a gnarly and random spool of grindhouse edits. Several new documentaries are also included, most of them featured on disc 3, “Ladies of the Evil Dead”, which involve the female stars’ return to the limelight via horror conventions, specifically the Flashback Weekend Horror Convention held in Chicago in 2005.
The girls—Shelley (Sarah York, the one who gets naked), Linda (Betsy Baker, the one who giggles like a schoolgirl when she gets possessed), and Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss, the one who gets raped by a tree)—enjoy a reunion with Bruce Campbell, a drive-in theater prize giveaway, and a panel discussion at a nerd gala, and it’s all included in this occasionally repetitive but admittedly very “ultimate” edition, which is sadly Raimi-free. There are some interesting moments, though, like Cheryl’s feigned inability to remember the tree molestation scene, claiming that Raimi added it in “post-production” without her knowledge, or producer Robert Tapert discussing New Line’s desire to include Ash in their FREDDY VS. JASON movie. But, it’s the hour of deleted footage and the inclusion of both the full-frame and widescreen versions that make this edition truly desirable. Bruce Campbell’s wry commentary from the 1999 Special Edition is back, and there’s even a double-sided poster included, so The Ultimate Edition is certainly the bitch of the bunch. Worth owning for any self-respecting Deadite, at least until THE EVIL DEAD: THE EUTHANASIA EDITION (With Extended Dialogue Scenes Shot By Guest Director Quentin Tarantino) is finally released in early 2009.