As we countdown to the EVIL DEAD franchise returning to our cinemas, we caught up with several key players who were instrumental in cementing the movies as horror classics. First up, Betsy Baker, who portrayed Ash's doomed girlfriend Linda in the 1981 original...
Starburst: You played Linda in The Evil Dead. What attracted you to the film, and to the role?
Betsy Baker: I had been asked by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell to 'consider' the role of Linda. I had never done anything horror-ish before. I thought it would be a great adventure. And indeed, it was.
Were you disappointed not to be able to return for Evil Dead 2?
I wasn't disappointed - in fact, I was asked to portray Linda in Evil Dead 2. I met with them again - and we had a long discussion - the invite was out there. But I had gotten married, and my husband and I were expecting our first child, and we all agreed there was no easy way around that! So regrettably, I had to turn it down. But we had a beautiful, beautiful daughter two months later - now who can call that disappointment!?
What are your thoughts on The Evil Dead and its legacy, all these years later?
I'm simply amazed to this day, the following that the original film had, and has. As members of the cast, the ladies of Evil Dead have been asked to appear at autograph conventions in all different parts of the world, and throughout the United States. People still come up to me and ask out of the blue, if they could hear the 'laugh' or the 'song'. It truly has a cult following!
Did you have any idea, making the film, that it would go on to become one of the most influential horror films of all time?
Never in my dreams, or nightmares... I should say. It's still hard to believe.
What do you think might be the key to its lasting appeal?
I think there was a true innocence present in making the film and shown on the screen... and in many ways, both bad and good, but all truly genuine - it shows. There were literally no computers back then, no special effects other than ones that were truly hand-made or mixed up in a kitchen pan. In many ways, I think the audience appreciates not only the occasional sense of humour that peeks through, but the real determination of young actors and creative people, and their drive to conceive their image and follow through with a finished product, bumps and all.
Here in the UK, The Evil Dead was actually banned for a few years. What was your reaction to that?
Honestly, I wasn't consistently aware of all the bans in different countries for quite a few years.
What is your greatest memory from making the film?
I think it's a combination of memories - the hard work, the rough and rustic atmosphere throughout - no heat on the set, no coffee, no water, many times no hot showers, the list goes on - and yet, we all supported each other in each individual's task or crew job, whether it be a fellow actor or actress, or the skeletal crew.
Were the contact lenses as painful as they looked?
Yes. Actually, mine were probably the most comfortable - both Ellen and Theresa had some painful moments wearing them. But we often say that if you imagine a large plastic food container lid being inserted in your eyes, that's what it felt like!
In such a visceral, raw-looking shoot, you must have picked up a few cuts and bruises?
Absolutely. I bruised my back while being hauled down the steps, ripped some skin off the duct-tape put on my back, Bruce hurt his ankle running down the hill one night... the list goes on!
Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi have gone on to become enormous cult figures since The Evil Dead. What was it like working with them?
Working with Bruce and Sam was a highlight of working on such a project. Their determination, their drive, and their insistence on getting what they wanted were pervasive throughout. Today, they are still funny and still creative.
The remake is due out very soon. Will you be watching it?
I will be hiding my eyes, I think - during most of the film. I'm not huge on watching horror movies but I will have to catch it.
How do you feel about remakes?
No comment. There. That's how I feel! Whether it's a romance, a comedy, a drama, or a horror film.
Are you a big fan of horror movies?
Nope, nope, nope!
What are you up to next?
Lots of projects! I just finished filming a television murder-mystery, will be seen in a new network drama called Monday Mornings in the spring of 2013, and I also appeared Oz the Great and Powerful! I am writing two children's books - yup! And I also work with more than 1200 elementary school children each week as an independent vocal music teacher at six schools!
What are your future career ambitions?
THE EVIL DEAD is currently available on Blu-ray (Steelbook Edition). EVIL DEAD (2013) opens in UK cinemas April 18th. Follow The Ladies of Evil Dead - Ellen Sandweiss, Betsy Baker and Theresa Tilly - on Twitter @theladiesofevildea, or visit them on facebook.
Click on the cover below to grab a copy of our EVIL DEAD Issue!