By Josh Becker
Other than the film itself, this is the only record of the making of the movie “Evil Dead,” formerly known as “Book of the Dead.” It has taken me eighteen years to finally type this. I have left all of the wording, grammar, and punctuation exactly as they were when it was written by hand in spiral notebooks at the time. I have, however, corrected the spelling errors.
Sunday, November 11, 1979 —
Ah, Tennessee . . .
We of the cast and crew of “Book of the Dead” are presently residing in an extremely large house (6 bedrooms, 3 full baths) somewhere outside Morristown, which is about an hour outside Knoxville.
Getting here wasn’t particularly difficult, other than the instructions we received were completely mismarked in relation to compass direction. The location at this writing is a wonderful exterior (I’ve only seen stills), however the interior is unacceptable to those in the know. We may still be shooting in Marshall, Michigan.
We all moved into our rooms (although I haven’t spotted Rich and Theresa yet) and I got a bed (most everyone else is on army cots or the floor).
Sam spoke for our first production meeting and made a good show; he was adroit, yet funny (at the expense of Gary Holt, our local location manager). He used a camp counselor attitude to the whole thing, seemingly covered all the points and that was that.
Holt played us a song he had written and recorded that was very strange. It was about 10 minutes long with a guy talking about the horrors of a Vietnam vet. It was too weird.
I don’t have any idea as to what time it is. I have gotten twice as much sleep as anyone here. I awoke today to dinner being made (spaghetti that was okay), then dope smoking and beer drinking wiped me out in a few hours and I was back to sleep. When I awoke this last time I found Sam and Tom still up working on the actual Book of the Dead (Sam was having a rubber cast of his palm made to use as one of the pages of “human skin”).
So now everyone is asleep and I’m up. Sam said it was about 6:30 A.M., then said it was 1:30 A.M., then came back with 6:45 A.M. and since there isn’t a clock around I don’t know.
It’s a real strange grouping together of people. I’ll wait to see how everyone functions as a team.
Nevertheless, we’re all here, all the equipment is here, props galore and we do have a car exterior anyway so I guess we’re making movies.
Tuesday, Nov. 13th, 1979 —
We now have a location, which is about a mile from here, that is almost totally demolished and needs to be rebuilt. This is expected to take eight days, during which time we shall be filming driving scenes.
I drove to Knoxville airport to pick up the film but it hadn’t arrived yet. It’s supposed to be in later tonight. I don’t feel like part of this happy family.
I don’t feel like writing right now.
Later . . .
It’s about 4:30 A.M. and I can’t seem to get past my old sleeping habits. I went to sleep at 9:00 P.M. and woke up at 3:00. This gives me quite a few hours to myself to read and write (I finished “Commander 1” a few minutes ago). Also, I haven’t been having a terrific time becoming one of the “family,” so I just sleep it out.
Bruce picked up the film so I suspect we could shoot tomorrow — that would be nice. And although “they” are trying to be democratic about who works where, I simply do not want to be doing clean-up and carpentry on the cabin when I could be assisting the shoot. I will undoubtedly end up on clean-up anyway.
Of the cast and crew, here’s how I see it: Theresa is an air-head but well-meaning and is trying to be motherly, Betsy just is, Rich is okay, Don is okay but a little wacky on destroying things, Ellen is distant and seems troubled (she seems to have had some difficulty with her face mold tonight), Tim (camera) seems to know what he’s doing, John (sound) is a good guy, Goody is Goody (loud & goofy), Dart (Steve Frankell) arrived today and he’s a good guy, Tapert seems to be enjoying his power-position, but hasn’t become annoying, Bruce is either ALL BUSINESS or ALL SHTICKS and Sam, though a bit harried, is just his plain old self and everyone seems to adore him. As for me, I’m the recluse.
Last evening, as I was trying to get the dishwasher going, Theresa said to me, “You know, you’re not as bad as they made you out to be.” I asked her what this meant and she wouldn’t reply.
I forgot Tom Sullivan — he does his job and enjoys himself, but otherwise is barely apparent.