Sam Raimi Hated Evil Dead Titles: ‘It’s Just So Stupid’

Sam Raimi was forced to cut the title of his classic camp horror film to save money on newspaper ads, but after 40 years he’s finally coming to Evil Dead.

"The bad death"

© New Line Cinema/Courtesy The Everett Collection

Few horror franchises have the cultural staying power that the Evil Dead series has enjoyed, and fewer still are able to keep their original creators in the fold for so long. While Sam Raimi has handed direction of the upcoming Evil Dead Rise to Lee Cronin and Bruce Campbell isn’t starring as Ash, both men continue to oversee the franchise as executive producers.

The franchise was able to survive four decades and spawn five feature films and three seasons of a TV show, thanks in large part to the unique blend of horror and comedy introduced by Raimi and Campbell in 1981’s The Evil Dead. The campiness extends to the film’s nonsensically reductive title, which one might think was a marketing genius on their part. But as it turns out, Raimi and Campbell originally had a different title in mind — and were adamantly opposed to the name they ultimately chose.

In a new interview with Empire, Raimi explained that the film’s iconic title was a complete accident that he was doing his best to avoid. He had planned a longer title for the film but had to shorten it to save money on newspaper ads.

“The original title of [original] Movie was ‘The Book Of The Dead,'” Raimi said. “But film sales agent Irvin Shapiro sat Rob, Bruce and me down and said, ‘We’re going to change the title, guys. Ad space in the newspaper is paid for by the duty, kid. We won’t have a five word title. ‘Dead’ can stay. You can have another word. You can call it ‘101% dead’ or ‘Evil Dead’.”

Raimi went on to say that he hated both options but ultimately made his choice through the elimination process.

“I was like, ‘But these are the worst two tracks I’ve ever heard in my life! Evil Dead sucks! How can anything be evil and dead?’ I just thought it was so stupid,” he said. “‘101% dead’? I thought, ‘I’m going to die first.’ So I chose the lesser of the two terrible titles. But now I’ve started to like it. It is very good.”

Evil Dead Rise hits theaters on Friday April 23rd.

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Lindsay Lowe

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