Long before the Coen brothers collected one of their four Oscars (Fargo, No County for Old Men) and Sam Raimi started directing the Spider—Man franchise the three worked on a little film called The Evil Dead that was released in 1981. Raimi was born in Royal Oak, Michigan and raised in Detroit where he began making 8mm as a kid. While attending Michigan St. he formed Renaissance Pictures with some buddies and made the short film Within the Woods. He then dropped out of school and raised $500,000. from doctors, dentists and real estate people and made The Evil Dead.
According to the Book of the Dead: The Definitive Evil Dead Website, The Evil Dead took two years to make and was shot in Tennessee (Mossistown) and Michigan (Marshall, Gladwin. Hartland, Detroit). Stephen King has said that it is the best horror film of the 80s. Joel Coen is credited as assistant film editor on the film.
“I first worked with Joel Coen on the editing of The Evil Dead. Rob (Tapert) and I drove my car from Michigan to New York, with all our film in the back. We were a little nervous; if you come from Michigan and you drive into New York for the first time, the feeling is unbelievable. It’s visceral…the buildings that well up around you; it’s overwhelming. We pulled up to the studio, and this weird guy tapped on the window, long-greasy-haired guy that I thought was going to rip us off or something. I didn’t want to roll the window down, but he wouldn’t go away…Finally, he said he was the editing-room assistant and he was there to get the film. And that was Joel. Joel and Ethan, who at the time was a statistical accountant at Macy’s, and Rob and I all became good friends. We’d go out to dinner and movies and write—we we writing other things, even besides Crimewave, back then—and hang out. We were just kids…and we’ve been writing together ever since.”
Filmmaking on the Fringe
Written by Maitland McDonagh
So even before this digital revolution kicked off a couple filmmakers from Minnesota and a filmmaker from Michigan made little indie films that put them on the map.
Related post: Screenwriting from Michigan