Back at the dawn of the 80s, who would have guessed that a $375,000 independent horror movie from an unknown director named Sam Raimi would end up spawning a franchise that lives on more than 40 years later? However, this is just what happened with 1981’s The Evil Dead.
Despite being hugely controversial for its excessive violence, The Evil Dead proved one of the biggest hits of the early VHS era. It spawned two direct sequels, a TV spin-off, comics, video games, vast swathes of merchandise, and a remake – whose own sequel, Evil Dead Rise, is out now.
The film’s success launched director Sam Raimi, who went on to call the shots on such huge blockbusters as the original Spider-Man trilogy. But what of the young actors who at times truly suffered for their art in production of the low budget horror classic? Let’s catch up with the five stars of The Evil Dead and see what they’re up to now.
Ash – Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell had been friends with director Sam Raimi and producer Rob Tapert since school, and the trio had collaborated on numerous short films before breaking into features with The Evil Dead. Campbell has been synonymous with the series and the character of Ash Williams ever since.
Campbell reprised the role in Evil Dead 2, third film Army of Darkness, and a number of video games. However, since the cancellation of TV spin-off Ash vs. Evil Dead (which ran from 2015 to 2018), the actor says he’s retired from the role.
Away from Ash, Campbell has enjoyed small screen success on Burn Notice, and had a recurring role on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. He’s also taken plenty of bit parts in major films (including many Sam Raimi productions), and has taken the lead in more low-budget horror movies than you can shake a stick at, as well as directing a couple of his own.
Cheryl – Ellen Sandweiss
Ellen Sandweiss had appeared alongside Bruce Campbell in a number of Sam Raimi-directed shorts before taking the role of Ash’s sister Cheryl in The Evil Dead. This proved to be a pretty grueling experience for the young actress, not least because of the infamous sequence in which Cheryl is brutalised in the woods.
After The Evil Dead, it would be 25 years before Sandweiss made another film, but she’s clocked up a fair few credits since then, mainly in low budget independent films.
She reunited with Campbell on his 2007 directorial effort My Name Is Bruce, and reprised the role of Cheryl in two episodes of Ash vs. Evil Dead, and teamed up with fellow Evil Dead ladies Theresa Tilly and Betsy Baker on 2009 TV show Dangerous Women.
Scott – Hal Delrich (Richard Demanincor)
- Credit: @Hal_Dead_Rich Twitter
Because The Evil Dead was a non-union production, Richard Demanincor appeared as Scotty under the alias Hal DelRich, so as not to get in trouble with the Screen Actors Guild. However, due to the success of the low budget gore-fest, he’s often gone by Hal DelRich professionally in the years since.
Aside from a bit part in Sam Raimi’s largely forgotten second film Crimewave, Demanincor largely dropped out of the entertainment industry after The Evil Dead. He stayed out of the public eye for many years, but by around 2014 he started joining his fellow Evil Dead cast members on the fan convention circuit.
Linda – Betsy Baker
- Credit: GabboT via Flickr
Like her co-stars, Betsy Baker had no experience of filmmaking when she took the role of Ash’s ill-fated girlfriend Linda in The Evil Dead (a role that was later taken by Denise Bixler in Evil Dead 2, and Bridget Fonda in Army of Darkness). After the film’s release, Baker stepped away from acting to concentrate on motherhood.
However, in the mid-2000s Baker got back in the game, and she’s clocked up more than 70 screen credits in the years since. These include the aforementioned TV show Dangerous Women, numerous independent horror films, and appearances on such major TV shows as ER, American Horror Story and Shameless.
Shelly – Sarah York (Theresa Tilly)
- Credit: @theresatilly Twitter
Theresa Tilly was another SAG-accredited actor who appeared in non-union production The Evil Dead under an alias to avoid trouble with the guild. As Sarah York, she took the part of Scotty’s girlfriend Shelly, who is memorably possessed when the unseen force comes crashing through her window.
After The Evil Dead, Tilly pursued stand-up comedy, singing and voiceover work before getting back into acting in the 90s. She’s since appeared in a number of TV shows and movies as well as working in theatre, and has regularly appeared at fan conventions with her fellow Evil Dead alumni.