With all its visual inventiveness, brilliant juxtaposition of grotesque, gory scenes with dark humor, and a well-defined mythology of its own, the cult-classic horror franchise “Evil Dead,” created by Sam Raimi, has gone on to become a subgenre in itself. One of the selling points of the series is the lore of the horror elements, revolving around the ominous “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis,” aka “Book of the Dead,” and the sadistic, vicious monsters known as Deadites, both of which end up wreaking havoc in the lives (and deaths too) of the protagonists involved in each of the installments. The latest release of the franchise, “Evil Dead Rise,” continues the legacy of its horror by adhering to the lore and also by adding newer elements to the mythology, which we would like to discuss by explaining the lore in detail.
Before the meteoric success of the first movie of the franchise, “Evil Dead” (1981), which was the brainchild of director Sam Raimi, series lead Bruce Campbell, and producer Robert Tapert, the trio created a short film called “Within the Woods,” which was supposed to be a blueprint and a sales pitch to investors for a feature-length movie. What followed was history, and four decades and five movies and a TV series later, the franchise is only getting stronger with the years, and according to the latest reports, Sam Raimi is working on a ‘Bible’ for the franchise to chart out a defined roadmap for upcoming installments to follow, and exploring the Necronomicon will be a vital part of that.
What Is Necronomicon Ex-Mortis?
Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s short story of the same name, the Necronomicon in the Evil Dead universe is a malevolent grimoire that acts as an encyclopedia of evil, containing the rituals, incantations, and descriptions of various demonic forces and infestations, and in some cases also the method of deterring them. The book was created by the ancient overlords who ruled the earth, known as the Dark Ones, and at this point, there are three versions of the same book existing in the universe.
In all of its iterations, the Necronomicon is made out of human or demon skin and flesh, with the inscriptions and illustrations done in blood. The illustrations range from horrifying, barbaric, grotesque images of demonic possession and torture to vivid analytical studies of various life forms. The chief motive behind the creation of this book was to summon Kandarian demons that can infect life forms and turn them into the undead, malicious beings known as Deadites, who can keep on infecting as many other life forms as possible until the prime copy of Necronomicon can summon the creators, the Dark Ones, from their banishment to lay waste to this realm. The book can also create portals that can create a tear in the space-time fabric, thereby making even time travel possible, as happened during the event of “Evil Dead II.”
A different version from the main trilogy Necronomicon can be seen in the 2013 film “Evil Dead,” which is a reboot of the original narrative, which is known as ‘Naturom Demento.’ It functioned in the same way the previous iteration did, except it had a few rules to follow in order to bring about a final catastrophe in the form of invoking a demon after possessing a particular number of souls. The latest release, “Evil Dead Rise,” brings the original version, which, according to the movie narrative, was discovered by Christian priests in 1923 who went against the Church’s commands to not tamper with the unholy scripture of the book and paid a deadly price. In the movie, Ellie’s son Danny opens up the book and plays the vinyl records containing the incantations of the book, which summon the Kandarian demon, which causes the evil infection and deaths of all the apartment inhabitants, with the only survivors being Beth and young Kassie. Depending on the version, the Necronomicon is written in ancient Sumerian or an entirely different alien language, which the Dark Ones used to bind the evil demonic forces to the book in order to make them do their bidding.
Who Are Deadites?
The chief antagonists in all of the Evil Dead content across various media forms have been the Deadites, the undead parasitic demonic thralls that take great pleasure in acting out sadistic tortures on the hosts they possess and on others, with their sole motivation being to feast on the souls of living beings and spread their infestation as much as possible. According to the canon, Deadites roamed the ancient earth and acted as the instruments through which the Dark Ones gained absolute control. After the banishment of the Dark Ones, the Deadites were banished to a different dimension as well, and the only way to summon them was through the Necronomicon. When particular incantations from the Necronomicon are recited or heard, an unseen Kandarian demon is summoned, which infects living beings, especially humans, and turns them into Deadites.
Deadites possess others by attacking and infecting them through bites and scratches, and they are even able to possess the dead body of a host. Even though some similarities can be observed between a zombie and a deadite, the former is a far more intelligent creature that even emotionally manipulates its victims to breaking point and takes pleasure in sadistically torturing host bodies and other beings. Deadites seek to break their victim physically and mentally and grant the host body enhanced physiology, even with the ability to hover and do limited, impossible physical feats. A deadite infection manifests in a changed physical appearance, which is generally showcased through pupil-less eyes, lightened skin tone, a blackened mouth, and an absolutely deranged sense of humor. There is no physical weakness perceivable in a deadite, and it can even operate through dismembered body parts. However, in some variations, Deadites detest vampires due to being unable to possess them. There is no real chance of getting rid of a Deadite infection, but in “Evil Dead” (2013), it was shown that a live burial procedure could cleanse the infected soul of Mia Allen from Deadite permanently.
In “Evil Dead Rise,” a new variation of the Deadite is seen when the Deadites of Bridget and Danny transfix themselves into the main Deadite Ellie’s body and create a Hive Deadite, operating in unison to hunt down Kassie and Beth. The standard procedure for ending a Deadite is dismemberment, which led to several fan favorites involving the infamous chainsaw. Occasionally, harming the Book of the Dead also resulted in the death of the Deadites, as seen in the first Evil Dead movie. Deadites are also vulnerable to the Kandarian dagger, which can be used to kill them permanently. Deadites are not to be considered mere foot soldiers of a prime evil, and unlike most lackeys, they are shown to be extremely successful in eliminating their opponents, which is a testament to their lethality. Historically, Deadites seem to be inspired by the Bulgarian legends of vampires from the 5th and 6th centuries, which were more akin to demonic possession than the modern myth of bloodsuckers.