He’s made a French film and played Ronald Reagan but, for a loyal army of fans, he will always be Ash from The Evil Dead. We salute a cult legend
Mary Whitehouse would be scratching her way out of the grave if she knew she’d helped the movie she branded “the number one video nasty” have a long and healthy lifespan. In 1983, Whitehouse, founder of the National Viewers’ and Listeners’ Association, demanded members of the House of Commons squirm their way through scenes of decapitation, dismemberment and tree-rape culled from Sam Raimi’s micro-budget splatter classic, The Evil Dead, in an attempt to force the government to clamp down on the then-burgeoning video-rental industry. Soon after, police confiscated mainstays of the VHS horror shelf such as The Driller Killer, I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust from the nation’s shops, with The Evil Dead considered the most notorious corrupter of young minds. The hysteria continued all the way until a test trial in July 1984 when a Crown Court judge screened the film and failed to find it obscene.
The publicity sent it to number one,” recalls Bruce Campbell, who plays The Evil Dead’s signature role, Ashley “Ash” J Williams. “It was the biggest video of the year. The Shining was way down the list. Everyone wanted to see what this video nasty was once we’d won the court case.”
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