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The original Evil Dead is one of the greatest low budget horror movies ever made. It spawned a franchise that exists to this day. It's possible that it might never have happened, however, as the cast apparently tried to film the entire movie high. The secret was revealed recently during an interview when Bruce Campbell admitted that the cast felt that if they followed in the footsteps of the great Jack Nicholson, then their performances might turn out just as good.
We did, in fact, smoke marijuana because we had heard, in the famous Jack Nicholson movie Five Easy Pieces -- no, Easy Rider -- that he smoked like 47 joints before he shot that scene. And I thought, if he can go on to become a very famous, notable actor, we can do the same thing. And I had never smoked before. I was 21, and... we also found out that the weed in Tennessee was pretty good, apparently. And so we did not really film the scene successfully.
Bruce Campbell's story on Conan is about how Jack Nicholson was allegedly very high while filming Easy Rider and so, Campbell apparently thought that if he was equally high, he could put together an equally good performance. Alas, it seems that only Jack Nicholson is capable of stellar acting while stoned out of his mind. It appears Mr. Campbell fell victim to the classic post hoc fallacy. Just because Jack could give a great performance after smoking 47 joints, doesn't mean the 47 joints are what made the performance great. We're also guessing Jack had some previous experience with the drug. Maybe.
Of course, this makes us wonder if, 37 years later, there is in fact rough footage of Bruce Campbell filming his scenes while smashed out of his gourd. While the Evil Dead franchise became more comedically focused over time, the original movie is a true horror movie. We can imagine Campbell ruining the scene by laughing too much, we understand that's a thing that happens while high. Regardless, we're guessing that footage would be priceless.
Whether influenced by the use of illicit substances or not, Evil Dead became a cult hit that went on to spawn a pair of sequels and a TV series. As fans, we're certainly glad that the series became a hit, regardless of the reasons behind it.