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Evil Dead Chainsaws Website
Completion Date: 
March 3, 2016 (last additions)
Production Time: 
6 weeks (spread over 22 months)
This website was designed as part of a hobby company called EvilDeadChainsaws, which I ran on my own from 2005 up to the start of 2008, selling prop replica 'hand' chainsaws, as seen in the Sam Raimi films' Evil Dead II & Army Of Darkness. Although the actual time spent designing the site was only 4 weeks, this was spread over many months as new sections were added and the project progressed, running from the first holding page in October 2005 to the final major updates around August 2007.
The idea for EvilDeadChainsaws first started around July of 2002, when I bought a real working Homelite XL chainsaw off EBay, the exact same make & model (but slightly modified) as is seen in Evil Dead II. As a pet project, I made the same modifications to my saw, although this really only meant a small amount of work changing the handle shape and adding a grill to the side, and I was happy to leave it at that.

Before starting EvilDeadChainsaws I spent much of my spare time working on a range of special effects gags in my spare time; like trick machetes & compressed air squibs. I was sinking money into new ideas like there was no tomorrow, but not doing anything with them once they were finished, so not seeing any return on the money I was investing. Mid 2005 someone suggested I should try to sell some of my effects rather than just making & storing each one, then moving on to the next idea. After a few months thinking about it I thought the best way to start out would be to keep it simple and concentrate on one really good idea, maybe introducing other items later on, and any profits could be used to fund additional new effects ideas without spending vast amounts of my own money.

During this period I discovered NightmareGloves.com run by Anders Eriksen in Denmark. He makes replica Freddy Kruger gloves, and that gave me the idea to do much the same thing; find a prop I can replicate and set up a website selling them. After some thought I settled upon the 'hand' chainsaw prop from the Evil Dead films.

The 'Cabin' model chainsaw

The 'Medieval' model chainsaw

The 'Workshed' model chainsaw
From May to December 2005 I prototyped the idea until I knew I could make sellable product, developing two grades; a non-working 'Standard' model saw selling at around 350, and a 'Deluxe' saw with a rotating chain, retracting pull-start & smoke unit, selling for around 750. I bought the EvilDeadChainsaws.com domain name and uploaded a holding page on October 31, 2005, then formerly launched the website January 1, 2006. The main concept behind the site was drawn from the cover of the UK Palace Pictures 1990 VHS release of The Evil Dead with artwork by Graham Humphreys, having grungy painted borders & vivid colours.

I found there were many slight variants in the chainsaws seen across Evil Dead II & Army Of Darkness due to on-screen action, continuity errors, and damage & quick-fix repairs between takes, but I distilled all the differences down and settled upon three separate models. The 'Workshed' saw was the first to go online, which was a replica of the chainsaw seen being built in the workshed by Ash & Annie in Evil Dead II, it also closely matched the lightweight stunt chainsaw used in parts of the scene in which Ash is attacked by Linda's headless corpse. Although the workshed sequence has a brief shot of a 14" guide bar being fitted, I used a 20" bar instead, as per the stunt chainsaw. The remaining two saw models had both been designed & added to the website by the middle of 2006. The 'Cabin' saw was a replica of the chainsaw seen throughout Evil Dead II, wherever you see the saw being worn. In addition its used in the scene where Ash cuts off his hand, and in parts of the scene in which Ash is attacked by Linda's headless corpse. The 'Medieval' model saw was a replica of the chainsaw seen throughout Army Of Darkness, wherever you see the saw being worn. The exact design of the saw varies from scene to scene (and in some places, shot to shot) so this replica is somewhat of an amalgamation of the various designs.
I had intentions to make a different photo backdrop for each of the three styles of saw. With the 'Workshed' being the first online, I began with this backdrop. I designed & constructed a full size replica section of the Evil Dead II workshed set wall, complete with shelves & dressing. Some months later and I was looking at ideas for the remaining saws. The 'Cabin' saw was proposed to use either using a replica of the desk seen in the cabin of Evil Dead II, with a tape player, 'Book of the Dead', lamp, etc.. (for which I even bought the same make & model tape player to put on the fake desk; a Panasonic Solid State RQ-706S reel to reel tape recorder, and started work on sculpting a 'Book of the Dead' replica) or an alternate idea was to have it resting a fake section of the dirt cellar floor lit by thin strips of light (via a gobo) as if light was coming through gaps between the floorboards above, which was made and some photos taken. The 'Medieval' saw was to use some sort of suitable stone plinth in the style of Army Of Darkness, but this idea was never fleshed out. I decided against this approach as it was really superfluous to the main project, just eating up time, and just went with the workshed set backdrop for all three saws.
The Evil Dead II workshed set photo backdrop overview
An uncomplete 'Book of the Dead' cover clay sculpt
Toronto run of Evil Dead: The Musical, and I emailed them in December of 2005 to see if they'd be interested in buying one of my saws. The production run that was well underway at that point and they decided to stick with the trusted props they already had rather than chopping & changing mid production run. In May of 2006, I was emailed back regarding the upcoming New York production and it went from there. To date I have supplied saws to the 2006 New York run, the 2007 Toronto run & the 2008 Seoul/Korean Run. Tom Sullivan has one of my saws in his travelling Evil Dead museum, this was one of the first two chainsaws supplied to the 2006 New York run, although by now it looks rather sorry for itself, being battered & broken after all the abuse its taken.
The Musical's saws were a fine compromise between reducing the weight to the bear minimum (as the actor has to be able to dance around with it), making it as easy as possible for them to maintain themselves, and trying to keep the look accurate to the movie. Having leant lessons from each previous saw, I feel the final pair of saws sent to the Korean run came very close to achieving this fine balance, weighing just 2.45kg, reduced from 3.2kg of a normal 'Standard' saw. They had a very lightweight custom made aluminium guide bar & plastic chain, roughly the weight of the real metal version, but just as robust, and a removable pull-start retractor unit, designed for underwater scuba use, which wouldn't fail if covered in fake blood. I introduced many of the improvements from the musicals' saws into my standard saws, reasoning that if they survived the musical run relatively intact, then they would easily be strong enough for the odd fancy dress party.

Evil Dead: The Musical 2008 Seoul/Korean Run
In January 2007 I decided to stop making 'Deluxe' working saws and just concentrate on the three 'Standard' saws. This was for a number of reasons, but mainly because they took so much time to make. A working saw took roughly 5 times longer to make than a non-working saw. I also always had issues finding a reliable supplier of battery packs as the individual batteries had to be configured in a particular (non-standard) way to fit into the tight space inside the saw. The price of a 'Deluxe' saw was only double that of a 'Standard' saw, and I was never able to find a happy balance between getting a decent price for each saw, and making the price low enough so that units were sold. Those factors combined coupled with the fact I also had a full time job working in special effects, meant I had to make a choice.

I finally called time on EvilDeadChainsaws altogether, at the start of March 2008. Even only producing 'Standard' chainsaws, all my spare time was being eaten up, which left me no time to spend on making other new effects gags, and that was the reason EvilDeadChainsaws was started. Because I was investing any spare money I made into prototyping new modifications or getting new equipment specifically for producing chainsaws, which meant I wasn't really earning anything out of it either. The pleasure I derived from the creativity in each saw diminished, and it just became more of a soul destroying slog to make one after another. Finally I decided to pull the plug and move on. I completed my final two chainsaws on March 2, 2008, and I think they are my best work, one was made for me personally, and one for my final customer.

As it was no longer needed, I made a little pet project out of the huge workshed photo backdrop display which was sitting in my workshop, starting just a few days after closing on March 4, 2008. I settled on the idea of moving it into the front room of my house to display my own personal cabin chainsaw, although having thought it through, I came to the conclusion that having an 8ft x 8ft x 4ft deep monolith to Evil Dead sitting next to my sofa might be a little excessive. So I decided to convert the background into a much smaller 3ft x 4ft freestanding display instead, and added some additional new touches, all of which took about 2 days work.
The 'Workshed' photo backdrop modified display, full view
The 'Workshed' photo backdrop modified display, properly lit
With the workshed display gone from the workshop, all the moulds and other related bit & pieces were either scrapped or boxed up and stored. EvilDeadChainsaws was an interesting experience, having made chainsaws for Evil Dead: The Musical, I don't think when I started up I could have expected to get any higher up the ladder, and I was still sorry to leave it all behind.
Some years later, around the start of April in 2012, I thought about restarting EvilDeadChainsaws.com. I re-registered the .com domain, upgraded the site, and put it back online. I started the prototyping process from scratch at the start of April 2013 lining up three orders to make at the same time, completing those three orders nine weeks later at the start of June. All done far quicker than the first time round given that I was more experienced both in terms of general processes, and making Evil Dead Chainsaws specifically. Each model chainsaw was re-prototyped and all new website photos were taken, along with updating all the website's graphical elements. An idea I'd had a few years back to create a different background for each type of chainsaw was realised; the Workshed chainsaw was photographed against a section of workshed, the Cabin chainsaw photographed on the Professor's cabin desk, and the Medieval chainsaw against a desert backdrop.
The new 2013 'Workshed' photo backdrop
The new 2013 'Cabin' photo backdrop
For the most part, the new chainsaws looked virtually identical to the old ones from the outside, but there had been some major interior tweaks, with a generally stronger construction incorporating all the Evil Dead The Musical revisions, Various painting & aging processes were refined, all adding to a more polished look. The biggest changes were the interior construction; what you don't see. From the outside there is a longer lid, a More accurate muffler assembly, and a more accurate silver side grill. As a special project for a customer, in May 2014 I started work on a replica of the Army Of Darkness mechanical arm, completing the first one in August, and have sold a further three since. As of the end of 2015, I've sold 25 replicas, sent all over the world.
The new 2013 'Medieval' photo backdrop
A 2014 'Mechanical Arm' photo
In February 2015, I supplied four non working and two working medieval style chainsaws to the Ash Vs Evil Dead production in New Zealand. They were all assembled but without any painting or ageing, plus a rough stunt saw as well, which took two months to make, but you won't see them on screen. It was only once the order was completed that rights issues with Army Of Darkness became apparent, which left the production with a problem as they couldn't use my chainsaws exactly as they were without having copyright issues, as they're identical to the Army Of Darkness screen-used chainsaws. Further to this, as Bruce's stuntman's hands were quite big, as are Bruce's for that matter, this meant they needed to re-orientate the inside of my chainsaws to make it an exact custom fit for Bruce and the stuntman's hands. My chainsaws tend to be a one-size-fits-all, and aren't a custom fit for every customer, plus there is only so much internal space. This combined with the copyright issues meant they basically had to completely dis-assemble my chainsaws and virtually start from scratch re-orientating the interior and changing the outer look to negate any copyright issues. They did use modified parts from my original chainsaws to make their first prototype chainsaw, but once they got this all sorted, they basically re-moulded everything and made their own chainsaws from then on. I'm told there are no original parts from my chainsaws used on their own screen-used chainsaws, literally everything was re-made by the production which is a shame, and of course I'm disappointed, but number of factors just came together to make an unfortunate situation. At least it was all sorted and they got what they needed to get done in the end. You can see a test video of one of those working chainsaws below.

By August 2015, I'd been getting orders in quick succession from the start of that year (eleven chainsaws made that year alone, not including individual parts orders, compared to six in the whole of the previous year, plus I have a full time job) so I wanted to take a break. I put EvilDeadChainsaws on hiatus, at the time only temporarily, but I've been really busy with other projects ever since and as of mid-2016, I still not taking any new orders, but the site will remain online for the foreseeable future.


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