In the summer of 1979, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell collected approximately $375,000 after showing their demo reel of Within the Woods to investors in the Detroit, Michigan, area. With funding secured, they proceeded to Morristown, Tennessee, to shoot The Evil Dead. Originally titled Book of Dead, it starred Bruce Campbell as Ash, a witless college student who goes to a remote cabin in mountains with his friends for a weekend of fun. Little do they know the ancient evil they will unleash once they arrive.
(Warning: Spoilers ahead) The group discovers several sound recordings on a tape recorder and a strange book in the cellar of the cabin. Curious, they listen to the tapes and find out the book is the Kandarian Book of the Dead, a collection of rituals and funeral incantations bound in human skin and inked in human blood. The replaying of the incantations awakens the evil in the woods, and it possesses the unlucky group of college kids one by one.
Starting with Cheryl Williams (Ellen Sandweiss) Ash’s sister, she is lured into the forest by the dark force in the woods. She is ensnared and brutally raped by tree vines. Cheryl barely escapes and returns to the cabin but nobody believes what happed to her. Cheryl convinces Ash to drive her into town but they soon discover the bridge is completed destroyed and mangled into the shape of a hand. The evil in the woods obviously does not want them to leave.
After they return to the cabin all seems well until Cheryl becomes possessed, having been infected by the evil in the forest, she stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil. Scotty springs to his feet and beats her with the blunt end of his axe and throws her in the fruit cellar and locks the door. Soon thereafter, Shelly is possessed by the dark force while changing in her room. She attacks Scotty who proceeds to chop her up and dismember her body with his axe. Scotty and Ash wrap her body and bury her outside. Scotty decides to leave to search for alternate way out of the woods.
Ash goes to check up on Linda who soon becomes possessed by the evil. Scotty soon returns but has suffered serious wounds. Before passing out he informs Ash that he has found a trail out of the woods. Linda appears in the doorway possessed cackling and mocking Ash. Ash drags her outside and returns to check on Scotty who has died from his wounds. Linda returns and attempts to stab Ash with the Kandarian dagger but Ash manages to fend her off and stabs her in the chest.
Ash takes Linda’s body to the workshed in the backyard to dismember her corpse with a chainsaw but can’t bring himself to do it so he just buries her body. As he finishes, Linda returns from her grave and lunges at Ash, struggling, Ash manages to grab a shovel and behead her. He returns to the cabin and finds the cellar door open. Ash decides to go down the cellar to search for Cherly. He finds a shotgun and returns upstairs. He hears noises from Shelly and Scotty’s room and goes to investigate suspecting Cheryl is around. Cheryl lunges through the broken window and but is shot by Ash is shot in the chest.
Terrified for his life, Ash barricades the front and back doors. Ash returns to the cellar to look for more shotgun shells. While in the cellar Ash hears voices and gets a blood bath from a broken pipe to the sound of a record player. Returning upstairs, Ash cowers near the front door when Cheryl suddendly grabs him through the front door. Ash manages to shoot her through the door. Before Ash can catch his breath, Scotty returns as a deadite, possessed by the Kandarian demons and attacks Ash, only to have his eyes gouged out by Ash. Ash sees Scotty’s body starting to burn and notices the Necronomicon had fallen the fireplace beginnging to burn as well from the heat. He gets the idea if he destroys the book, he will rid the cabin of the demons.
Before Ash can destroy the book, he is attacked by all three deadites. Ash struggles but manages to get near book. He’s finds Linda’s necklace nearby and uses it to hook shot the Necronomicon into the fireplace. The book burns and the demons leave the bodies of his friends and start to decompose and break apart. Dawn soon arrives and Ash leaves the cabin relieved only to be attacked by the evil force speeding towards him.