The Evil Dead was directed by Sam Raimi and grew become a cult sensation that hugely influenced the horror genre, and also went on to spawn a number of popular sequels.
The film focuses on a group of friends who stay in a log cabin in the woods for a small vacation, but the fun ends when they find an old book and inadvertently end up releasing evil spirits and demons that attack them and take possession of their corpses. The film launched the careers of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, and blazed a new route for independent horror movies everywhere.
If for some reason you are totally unaware of The Evil Dead (and I’m sure that isn’t the case otherwise you wouldn’t be hanging around on this site), then stop what you are doing and head over here to find out more, and then come back.
The soundtrack was composed by Joesph LoDuca, who hadn’t previously composed a film score, and his only other real musical release prior to The Evil Dead was a Jazz album called ‘Glisten’.
You would be forgiven for not expecting much from this soundtrack, given that the budget for the film was so low, and Joesph LoDuca hadn’t composed any movie soundtracks before – but that is not the case at all, and the Evil Dead soundtrack is a solid piece of work that stands head and shoulders above many of its contemporaries of the time.
The score is used as a prominent tool in the film and really works well with the imagery to heighten the stress, tension, claustrophobia, and scares that the movie has become famous for.
Joesph LoDuca would go on to work with Raimi on all the Evil Dead sequels, and he also created some celebrated soundtracks and scores for TV shows like ‘Spartacus‘ and ‘Hercules‘.
For a first movie soundtrack, Joesph DoLuca’s score is very slick and professional, and it had a personality all of its own – many horror films of the time were opting for soundtracks just based around synthesizers, but LoDuca’s score managed to combine synthesizers with live and traditional instrumentation (the soundtrack is full of strings, guitar, piano, and an array of percussion instruments), which gives the film a personality all of its own.
Another interesting observation is that DoLuca’s score for Evil Dead has aged remarkably well – the crude synth soundtracks of some horror films from the early 80s haven’t stood the test of time that well, and you could could pretty much carbon-date some films as being from the era just by listening to the soundtrack for a few seconds. The Evil Dead score however, could be applied to a modern day film and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
When LoDuca does use synths and electronically manipulated sounds he manages to blend it in well with the traditional instruments and it doesn’t come across as cheesy or cheap – LoDuca mixes beautiful strings sounds with analog synth sounds to great effect in the soundtrack.
In summary this is an underrated gem of a soundtrack that really captures the schizophrenic nature of the film – it builds slow tension and atmosphere, before erupting into a cacophony of disturbing sounds – as well as standing up on its own as a great piece of music independent of the movie. Sadly the soundtrack is quite short and clocks in only just above the 35 minute mark. But I guess when you get it right, then there is no need to needlessly extend it.
Whilst not widely available, the soundtrack as had a few releases over the years, but to be honest it is easier to get hold of Joesph’s DoLuca’s work for the later Evil dead films. You can still find the CD online (links below), and it is also availble from time to time on import, but expect to pay a huge price if you see the vinyl available on auction sites.
Notable releases include:
- Evil Dead (LP) Varèse Sarabande, US (1984)
- Evil Dead 1 & 2 (CD) Varèse Sarabande Japan (1993)
- The Evil Dead (CD) Varèse Sarabande Europe (1993)
Track 1: Introduction 00:00
Track 2: Eye Games-Charm 00:50
Track 3: Bridge Out 03:15
Track 4: Rape Of The Vines 05:07
Track 5: Ascent-Inflection 07:23
Track 6: Automatic Writing 09:22
Track 7: Skin 09:59
Track 8: Give Her The Ax 10:54
Track 9: Love Never Dies 11:49
Track 10: Kandanian Dagger-Book Burning 14:33
Track 11: Dawn of the Evil Dead 19:29
Track 12: Not the Shower Curtain 22:14
Track 13: Check On You 24:03
Track 14: Pencil It In 24:25
Track 15: Get the Lantern-Book fo the Dead 26:20
Track 16: Dawn-Incantation 28:57
Track 17: Shotgun 31:29
Track 18: Games 33:32
Track 19: The Cabin-Wounded Melody 35:15
Listen to the full Evil Dead soundtrack below: