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INT: Ladies of Evil Dead

08.01.2002by: The Arrow

The Arrow interviews
The Ladies of Evil Dead

Since Evil Dead's initial release in 1982, Bruce Campbell (Ash) and Sam Raimi (director) have been the two names mostly associated to the long lasting classic. But what about the ladies? Betsy Baker (Linda), Ellen Sandweiss (Sheryl) and Sarah York (Shelly)? How come we don't hear about them? Well, the good news is that the ladies of Evil Dead have recently surfaced out of the cellar through their Official Site and appearances at conventions. And of course, Arrow had the chance to chit chat with them. Here's what they had to say...

ARROW: How does it feel to meet the fans at the conventions? Does it blow your mind that the little movie you shot in the woods so long ago is still bringing you recognition?

BETSY: It is so great to, after all these years, be able to meet and talk with the fans! We have a blast hearing all about their “Evil Dead” stories, how many times they’ve seen it, their ‘first’ experience watching it, where they saw it, who they were with, and how many nightmares they’ve had!! And yes, it is unbelievable that it is still such a popular and well-loved classic -- but I’m thrilled that it is!!

It’s wonderful to finally meet the fans, and yes, it absolutely blows my mind. I actually wish that I had known I could get this recognition a little earlier than 20 years after the film was released, but perhaps in a way the waiting has made it all the more pleasurable.

SARAH: Most of the fans are really friendly, intelligent people and I thoroughly enjoy reminiscing about filming Book of the Dead. I have to call the movie that because that’s how I knew it first. I think when it first premiered in Michigan it was still being called Book of the Dead. It’s a lot of fun being part of something that is so legendary, it reminds me of being a kid and being the only one who could wiggle my ears, it gave me a lot of favorable attention, who wouldn’t like that! Also, it’s an icebreaker when I read for casting directors, as they look at my resume many will say, “Evil Dead! That’s my favorite movie”!! And then they have lots of questions about the shoot.

ARROW TO BETSY: I must admit that your eerie, head-tilting, maniacal laugh was the prime reason for many of my childhood nightmares. Was there an inspiration for that laugh? Did Sam direct you into it?
How did it come about? Do you still exercise it at times, maybe upon request?

BETSY: First of all, I just want to say...I’m so sorry you had so many nightmares-- I hope that by now you are through those horrible scary nights. (Hmmm... or would I have???) I really didn’t have an inspiration for the laugh prior to shooting-- Sam and I really didn’t know how the scene was actually going to progress.

We decided to make Linda a sweet, seemingly innocent, baby-doll monster once she gets possessed, so for the next few nights of rehearsal, this sickening-sweet infantile giggle started to emerge. Sam liked it, asked me to giggle longer and harder and louder, and in the end this horrible, eerie laugh emerged that wouldn’t stop. I HAVE been asked a number of times to do Linda’s laugh at public appearances and at conventions, and it’s always met with resounding screams and applause --- go figure!!

ARROW TO ELLEN: Did any of the staged horror you went through on the Evil Dead set ever follow you home? How did you sleep at night during or after the shoot?

ELLEN: I’ve never really been one to frighten easily, and after all, it was just a movie, with karo syrup blood and rubber body parts. My difficulty in sleeping during the actual filming resulted more from a messed-up internal clock, due to the all-night shooting schedule.

ARROW TO SARAH: What was the hardest scene you had to shoot? The one that frustrated you the most?

SARAH: Let me see, what was the hardest scene to shoot: Could it be the one where I’m “singing” solo (the song Sam wrote) in the car as we’re driving to the fateful cabin, or is it the scene where we’re making frozen strawberry daiquiris and Bruce makes a rather lame toast and we all had to laugh real hard, or maybe the scene where I’m looking passionately into Scotty’s eyes hoping that he’ll protect me from the evil “Book of the Dead”…perhaps, it’s the scene where my body parts are strewn around the cabin floor, dismemberment is never easy to do…that’s the one!

ARROW TO BETSY: Were you disappointed that you weren’t asked back for "Evil Dead 2"? I mean, they re-shot the chain of events from Evil Dead but with another ac
tress playing Ash’s girlfriend. How did that make you feel?

BETSY: That’s a question I’ve been asked many times. Actually, Sam and Rob (Tapert) DID ask me to portray Linda again in Evil Dead 2. They phoned me one day in the spring of 1986, and asked if we could meet for breakfast. I was a wee bit leery, since that’s how we first met before shooting Evil Dead back in Detroit!! We met at a local diner in L.A., and talked and laughed about old times. They were going to start shooting Evil Dead 2 later in the year, and asked if I would be interested.

But you see, at the same time, my husband and I were expecting our first child, and as we all talked and reminisced throughout the morning, we all agreed I might be in the middle of labor during the middle of filming. As it turned out, we had a beautiful baby girl --they started on the movie -- and the rest is history!! Looking back, it would have been lots of fun to have continued in the trilogy as Ash’s girlfriend --- but our daughter is one of the greatest accomplishments in my life -- next to our son!!

ARROW TO ELLEN: One of the more controversial scenes in the film involves your character being raped by trees. Looking back, what can you tell us about how it was shooting that specific scene?

ELLEN: Controversial? You really think so? Looking back, I can tell you I was cold, tired, scraped up, and choking from the fake fog. However, I was also very committed to doing a good acting job, so I was intent on playing the scene to the hilt by running as fast as I could and scaring the hell out of everyone. Think it worked?

ARROW TO SARAH: How was the atmosphere on set? Did you gals laugh a lot? Was it nerve wracking? Was Bruce a funny guy?

SARAH: We were all pretty relaxed, or should I say exhausted! After the third day of shooting it was mostly night shoots and who knew when you would sleep or eat. Does prison ring a bell?

ARROW: What do you ladies do for a living today? Is the acting bug still biting on occasion?

BETSY: I continued acting after “Evil Dead”, in TV movies and commercials, including working with great actors such as Karl Malden and John Malkovich, (“Word of Honor”), Dudley Moore, and Mary Tyler Moore (“Six Weeks”). I also performed on stage for months as Marion the librarian in “Music Man”, and have toured with Kaye Ballard and Eddie Bracken. I have done voice-overs and looping for films and television, and have my own business that supplies dressing rooms and motor homes for commercials and videos. These days, while raising our two children, I teach vocal music at local elementary schools, and am auditioning once again for commercials and film work.

I’m currently raising two teenaged children and running a manufacturers’ representative agency with my husband. Occasionally when the spirit moves me, I’ll do a theatre or singing gig. I’ve also done some local (Detroit) commercials and voice-overs. Lately, I spend a fair amount of time with my Evil Dead cohorts, traveling around to conventions and meeting the fans.

SARAH: I try to blend raising my family with my work. I have been the voice for many network promos, such as Ally Mc Beal, Days of Our Lives, Temptation Island and Six Feet Under. I do act in commercials both voice and body (all parts included); a few are running right now. I have several independent movies in my credits and some co starring television roles.

ARROW: Have you seen any of the Evil Dead sequels? If so, what did you think?
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I have only seen Evil Dead 2, and what can I say? A classic is a classic - Evil Dead reigns-----!!!

ELLEN: I’ve seen them all, but it’s been a while. Although I’m not exactly a horror movie fan, I do like the juxtaposition in Sam’s films of horror and comedy – that makes them unique and multi-dimensional.

SARAH: I try to see everything Sam does, I think he’s brilliant. Although, in my opinion, he did peak with Evil Dead!

ARROW: When’s the last time you all watched Evil Dead? How did you feel during its viewing? Did it still hold up? Bring back memories?

BETSY: The last time I saw Evil Dead in its entirety was just recently, at the Detroit Reunion hosted by Anchor Bay Entertainment to celebrate it’s re-release on a special edition DVD back in February 2002. The entire cast was there -- and we saw the movie with a sold-out theatre full of crazy, fun-loving, fans. Now, THAT’S how to watch “Evil Dead” - driving up in a limo, red carpet entrance, all dressed up, paparazzi cameras flashing, munching’ some popcorn, sippin’ a drink, surrounded by 450 screaming, laughing hysterical fans -- shouting out comments, threats, and warnings at the screen every other second ----the best time ever. Does it still hold up? -- you betcha. Does it bring back memories? -----Where do you wanna start!?!?

ELLEN: The last time I watched it was at the cast reunion in February in Detroit. Mostly I find it very funny, very scary, and quite over the top. It certainly brings back memories – most of which are good. The best part of watching it, in the theatre that is, is hearing the audience’s reactions and laughing along with them.

SARAH: We watch it every night at the dinner table, don’t you?

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Ladies for coming to our site. It's nice to have you gals back in the spotlight,
you deserve it.




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