1. The Evil Dead

The more you hear the cast and crew talk about it, the more you can believe that the filming of The Evil Dead could have just as likely ended in a crime scene.

“I never worked so hard or so long in my life… It got so cold there. After Tim Philo left and I had to operate the camera, be my own first assistant and load the cameras, etc, I also had to help blood up Bruce… My hands would be covered in syrup, and I’d realize, I gotta change the film magazine, I gotta change the lenses, so I would have to wash this blood off my hands. It was like fifteen degrees in this place, and there was no heat. The only thing we had was the coffee maker, full of coffee, not water. So I had to pour hot coffee over my hands to get the blood off them, and to warm them up enough to be able to load the 16mm cameras. It was a very hard, physically difficult experience. We should have taken days off, we should have rested, but it got to the point where we’d work eighteen hour days non-stop for, it seemed like, months.” –Director Sam Raimi, from “The Evil Dead Companion”

Even in the first six autumn weeks of shooting The Evil Dead, things were pretty terrible. The Tennessee-located cabin that they used had to be purged of wall-to-wall cow manure as well as heavily repaired to look livable. They had to dig a trench in the floor to fake a basement. The actors wore old and uncomfortable contact lenses that had to be taken out every fifteen minutes to prevent eye damage. At one point actress Ellen Sandweiss spent an entire freezing cold night shooting in a nightgown while barefoot, resulting in her feet getting torn to shreds by roots and twigs. This film would turn out to be the very last of her acting career.

Then things got worse, as their $300,000 budget ran out and, due to Sam Raimi’s extremely thorough shooting style, the six weeks had turned into the entire winter season, the cast and crew began to leave. The rest of the film was shot with only five people alone in the middle of a Karo syrup-covered cabin in Tennessee for the month of January. The only remaining actor being Bruce Campbell, who was known for doing anything producer Rob Tapert and Sam Raimi wished of him. For all the other actors, they would simply stand in themselves. Thanks to the magic of wigs, this included the female leads as well.

Bruce Campbell became so exhausted by the 12-18 hour shoots that they often kept him in character (awake, being the character) by jabbing him with sticks – At one point Raimi and Tapert decided to take total advantage of his condition for their own amusement, insisting that Bruce chop wood on camera over and over for what they called the big “wood chopping scene.” It took Campbell 45 minutes before realizing that there was, in fact, no such scene planned. Dicks!

After shooting was completed Bruce and Rob had the pleasure of taking a shotgun to every prop leftover before heading back for post-production. Campbell has since described the experience as being ‘Vietnam-like’ and claims to have grown a beard and slept on his floor for the following two months after shooting.

What are some of your favorite production horror stories?

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