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Stephen King saved the Evil Dead movies, here’s how

Author Stephen King has been an influence on some of the best horror movies ever made but he according to Sam Raimi he literally saved the Evil Dead films.

Bruce Campbell as Ash in the Evil Dead

Stephen King knows a thing or two about scaring people, so it’s unsurprising that he’s had an influence on some of the best horror movies ever made. Still, the King of the Creepshow (did we just invent a new nickname for good old Stephen King?) may have saved what’s arguably one of the best Sam Raimi movies, Evil Dead, from the scrap pile.

Rami admitted as much himself during an interview with IGN, where they were talking about the history of the Evil Dead movies. According to Raimi, King helped the film find distribution after the celebrated author caught a screening of the film while at Cannes.

“We could not find distribution for [Evil Dead],” Raimi explained. “No American distributor wanted to touch it once we were done. It was a very depressing process, going to every single distributor in America and getting a no.”

“We were lucky enough to find a man by the name of Irvin Shapiro, who was a film sales agent,” he continued. “He said to us when he saw the movie, ‘Well, it ain’t Gone with the Wind, but I think I can make some money with it.’ So he took it to Cannes — not the festival, per se, but the film market, which happens concurrently with the famous film festival.”

At one of these marketing screenings, King caught the film and was apparently terrified by what he saw. Sensing a marketing opportunity, Shapiro asked Raimi to get a quote from King about what he thought of the film.

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“So I called him… and said, ‘Could you give us a quote, what you honestly thought of the film?’ He said, ‘I won’t do that, but I will write a review. If there’s something in the review that you want to use as a quote, you can.’ … It was very generous of him, and we were able to use the very positive quote that he gave us. Without that, the movie may have been lost, but with Stephen King’s endorsement, we were able to make our first sales… his endorsement opened the doorway for the film to be seen.

Not content with helping save the Evil Dead franchise once, though; King then helped the second one get made as well. According to Raimi, after a disastrous experience making Crimewave, he set his heart on making Evil Dead 2, but he just couldn’t get the money together. So with a heavy heart, Raimi told the woman who was going to be his assistant director that they were shutting down production.

A Deadite from the Evil Dead (1981)

By sheer coincidence, she went to work on a Stephen King movie that Dino De Laurentiis was making, where she mentioned to King that Raimi was struggling to get the finance together for his picture.

“So Stephen King, I’m told — I’ve never talked to Mr King about this — but the rumour is that he called Dino De Laurentiis and said, ‘Dino, you’ve got to make these guys’ movie, Evil Dead 2,'” Raimi finished. “So we got a call from Dino De Laurentiis, and he sat us down in his big office and said, ‘OK, we’re going to make the movie.’ So Stephen King, that’s twice he’s come to my rescue.

A deadite from Evil Dead (1981)

We’ll say it, Stephen King’s a true horror hero. If you love things that go bump in the night, check out our guide to the best horror series ever made. We’re also big fans of the scariest genre, and we’ve got guides on all the creepiest new movies the year has to offer, including the Saw 10 release date, Insidious 5 release date, and The Boogeyman release date.

If you’ve just gotten lost, though and are looking for something more genteel, you can give our list of the best movies ever made a read; it should calm your nerves.