The Video Nasties #61 – The Evil (1978, Gus Trikonis)


‘Disturb not he who is held here in chains.’

The most striking thing about The Evil is its similarity to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. This film would have been released around the time that Raimi and his crew were going to the drive-in to research horror films, and I have no doubt that The Evil was one of the films they saw. But more on that later.


The Evil is a pretty bog-standard haunted house movie, in the vein of The Amityville Horror, The Sentinel and Burnt Offerings. Richard Crenna, best known as Rambo’s buddy, buys an old house and enlists a bunch of people that he helped to kick drugs to tidy the place up. Anything to save a buck, I suppose. What he doesn’t know is that the house is haunted, and when he opens a trapdoor in the cellar, The Devil himself is unleashed on the unsuspecting occupants. That’s right, The Devil.


It starts off promisingly enough. The location is good and spooky, and in the first few minutes a caretaker is burnt alive. Unfortunately, it’s one of those middle of the road movies that never gets too exciting, or too silly, or too weird – it just trundles along, no doubt passably entertaining on the bottom end of a double bill, but it’s never going to be anyone’s favourite movie. There’s a couple of creative deaths, a good scare or two, and Andrew Prine wearing disco trousers that are very tight around the crotch, but mostly the film is as generic as its title.


One weird thing – an hour in, a woman is chased by a dog and I swear to god, the sound effects for the dog are the same as those used for the TIE Fighters in Star Wars. Check it out if you don’t believe me.


So what about that Evil Dead connection I mentioned earlier? Well, we have a group of (mostly) kids trapped in a building. An old book and ancient artefact are discovered, and a trapdoor bursts open. People levitate, dead bodies suddenly rise up into frame and yes, a woman is stripped and possibly raped by a malevolent entity. Oh, I mean it’s not identical or anything, but it’s interesting to see the genesis of some of The Evil Dead. Probably.



The ending finally drags the film into batshit crazy territory, when Crenna and his wife venture down into the cellar and find themselves, I think, in Hell, which is a big smoky white room with a fat man on a throne. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…The Devil! The Devil turns out to be a bit of an arse, calling Crenna ‘scum’ and ‘a piece of vomit.’ Is that the best you’ve got, Devil? Just as he’s about to kill ol’ Richard, his wife appears from the smoke and stabs The Devil with a cross, apparently killing him. Does this mean that, with The Devil dead, all evil has been eradicated from the world? Because if it does, then that is one heck of a happy ending. I guess we’ll never know, and if you ask me tomorrow I won’t even care ‘cos I’ll have forgotten all about it. Such is the way with the mid-tier Video Nasties!

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