half hour distillation of the script in a Super-8 short. Within The Woods. the partners spent two years hawking their project round bemused local businessmen. eventually persuading enough of them to ‘cough green‘ (as Bruce so delightfully terms it) to complete the miniscule $385000 budget. ‘It took us from 1978 to 1982 to make what‘s now become known as Evil Dead 1; shooting on 16mm. doing everything ourselves and running up considerable personal debts.‘ explains Sam. omitting to mention that most of the film‘s technical credits are entirely bogus and mask the extent of the trio‘s involvement to make it look a more professional effort. ‘then when we finally did get it completed. it was a very strange creature. Nobody had ever heard ofus. so it was impossible to sell to anyone.‘
Milestone in mayhem
Which is where the Scottish connection comes in to save the day. ensuring that their remarkable efforts were not to pass by unnoticed. A screening at the 1982 Edinburgh Film Festival (where apparently Sam asked director Jim Hickey what he was doing showing an exploitation movie) provoked such a response that Palace Pictures became the first distributor in the world to give this shocking. funny. extraordinary little movie a release. ‘This is a homecoming for us.’ Sam continues. ‘because Glasgow and Edinburgh was really the first place we opened. We were nervous because we knew that if it did badly then it probably wouldn‘t get shown anywhere else. but the response was so good that it helped us get a release in the US. where previously the distributors had thought it was far too bloody. And from then on it was successful in Europe and Japan.‘
In Britain however. this milestone in mayhem was to attract most attention not in the cinema auditoria but on the TV screens of the nation‘s video renters. where horror movies were a staple diet. Indeed. the early Eighties had seen a proliferation on video of horror material much stronger than had yet been seen before in Britain. In the confusion of the rapidly expanding rental trade no provision had been made for it to pass videos for the approval of the strict British Board of Film Censors who had always ‘protected‘ the public from the harshest violence the world‘s film-makers had to offer. Public outcry. a press campaign. a spate of prosecutions under the 1959 Obscene Publications Act. and Tory MP Graham Bright‘s new legislation to bring the ‘video nasties‘ under control were all elements in the widespread de’bacle that followed.
Despite its Film Festival pedigree and praise from luminaries such as Stephen King. The Evil Dead which had been passed with cuts by the British Board of Film Censors. was lumped in with unspeakable. explotative dross like I Spit On Your
Grave or Cannibal Ferox and repeatedly confiscated by Police Officers unschooled in the delicacies of the 1980's horror cinema and
simply out to get the ‘nasties‘. Raimi even found himself in a Leeds courthouse defending his film from obscenity charges only to be told by the magistrate that his opinion was irrelevant. To date however. not one of the cases against The Evil Dead has been successful and a kind of pyrrhic victory has been won with its imminent reappearance on your local video shelves in a version further cut by the even stricter film and video censorship body. the British Board of Film Classification. set up by the Bright Video Recordings Bill.
Outside of Eire. Britain now has the harshest film censorship in western Europe. and as a first-hand victim Sam Raimi is well qualified to offer his opinion. ‘I‘m more bothered by the loss of people‘s freedoms than a few shots being cut from a horror picture. It‘s very
dangerous when people allow the
government to determine what they can and cannot see once they‘re over eighteen years ofage. It’s thought control. The next step is that they‘ll be taking something out ofa potentially explosive political feature. It’s the responsibility of people in free countries to stand up for their freedoms.‘
Sadly he‘s speaking at a time when a bill drawn up by Tory MP Gerald
IIowarth. likely to be adopted by any
future Conservative government. offers people the opportunity to bring the clamps down harder by giving any menber of the public the right to prosecute the TV companies ifthey find anything on their screens (in an already notoriously nebulous wording) ‘grossly offensive to any reasonable person'. The result could
be a toothless. paranoid media. One awaits future developments with some foreboding. His words also belie the fact that Evil Dead [1 does appear to have been softened down a little from the original: it‘s a slightly less gruelling exercise with the splattery shennanigans cast as dark comic fantasy. Raimi himselfwill admit this: ‘Well. in good taste we didn‘t feel we could go any further. Plus we also wanted the picture to play here. and the first one was confiscated for its harshness. sol suppose we had to tone it down.‘
That may be so. but at least he has retained the visceral zest which is the essence of the Evil Dead spirit. Raimi and his collaborators are around the same age as most of his audience and his gallows humour is something that is shared (even if the censorship lobby don‘t see it that way). In this one. he grins. ‘we tried to avoid offending people by changing the colour of the blood here and there to green or blue or turquoise. The red stuff. no matter how fantastical the situation. does seem to upset some people.‘ This from a man who wouldn‘t hurt a kebab.
Evil Dead [1 opens at the ()deon
( 'inemas Edinburgh and Glasgow front 19 June and in cinemas all over Scotland. See Film Listings.
DYNASTY OF DANCE
Dance in the Old Georgian Way. . . Lucy Ash caught up with Nina Ramishvili and her company of faultless performers mid-rehearsal in Nottingham. Amidst a strong atmosphere of theatricalin and an equally pungent air of Russian Cigarettes. she discovers a passion for electric goods as well as for dance.
Dressed in a turban. big gold earrings. fur coat and high heels. Nina Ramishvili might be mistaken for one of those old ladies you see wandering around Harrods. But the 77-year old grandmother is after more than fancy cakes and miracle skin creams.
Nina is the co-founder and chief choreographer of the world famous Georgian State Dance Company. After the Bolshoi Ballet. the Company is the Soviet Union‘s hottest entertainment export — it has visited 78 countries and is now on its seventh UK tour. The packed houses from Bournemouth to Belfast are not all filled by folk dance freaks: ‘I hate all all that poncy Morris dancing. but this stuffs alright‘. decides a teenage boy who‘d been taken to the Nottingham show by his auntie.
Founded by Nina and her late husband Iliko Sukhishvila in the 1930s. the Tbilisi-based company is very much a family affair. The couple‘s son. Tengiz is Artistic Director. his wife Inga a soloist and now Nina's 14 year old grandson has
Below: Nina Ramishvili (sitting) with her family.
joined the show. The young Iliko. intensively coached by his Dad. is highly photogenic and goes down a storm with older women in the audience.
Backstage in Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall. the unmistakable smell of Kosmos cigarettes hangs on the air. A balding musician implores someone to fill up his kettle. In another corner a man with a glossy moustache is quietly warming up
The List 12 — 25 June 7