A number of people were involved in creating the game on it's various platforms. Here you can read interviews with Chris Neary who was the graphics designer for the Commodore 64 version of the game, and Richard Leinfellner was the Commodore 64 programmer.
Chris Neary (Commodore 64 graphics designer)
Back in 2004 the game's Commodore 64 graphics designer Chris Neary stopped by the site forum to discuss his involvement with the game. His various posts have been assembled & formatted in to a coherent interview below. Although blocks of his written text have been re-arranged into order, his words have not been edited. If you want to read his original posts, see this
How did you first get involved with the game?
Richard [Leinfellner] was originally an employee at the shop. I had taught myself 6809 machine code on the Tandy colour computer and had done some work translating programs from it to the Dragon 32. I had applied for a number of jobs and had been successful with "Imagine (The name of the game") But Palace was far closer to my home in Gravesend, so I went with them. Lucky I did, Imagine went bust shortly after. Palace Virgin Gold was part of Palace Pictures, which also owned the Palace Video shop at 100 Oxford street.
How did you develop the game?
The Evil Dead was Programmed by Richard Lienfellner around 1983 ish and released in 1984. We worked from a room in the Scala Cinema in Pentonville Road and was originally a subsidiary of Palace Virgin Gold. I designed the graphics for "The Evil Dead" While working on my own game "Halloween". Both games were based on the rights to so called "Video Nasties" which the press, and particularly a lady called Mary Whitehouse was protesting against.
As a matter of interest, The C64 game "Evil Dead" was not the first ever game to be released. While we were in development, we had access to a cartridge game for the Atari XL which was another version of "The Evil Dead". It would be fun if anyone can find anything out about this version to add to your archive. Somewhere (I don't know if it still exists) I have an original T-shirt of "The game that gives sleepless nights). Last time I remember seeing it it was a bit ropey. You think that it would be worth something on Ebay lol!
What did you think of the film itself?
Some parts of it were laughable. The tree rape scene which has been deleted in most versions available today was a bit of a joke. Even so making people laugh at horror is a good trick. I remember when Pete first showed me the film of Evil Dead on a Betamax player in the office. In truth I thought it was a silly idea to try to make a game version of this film. But I think that Pete was way ahead of his time in his thinking. Nowadays it's common to create a "Game of the film", back then it was radical.
Did the video nasties saga affect the game?
Palace Software was in its formative days and there was really no way that the company could ditch their first game, so we continued with "The Evil Dead". What annoys me most is that if you look at the original game, we had to make it comic book violent due to the anti video nasty brigade. had they left us alone, we could have really made an excellent Adult version of it. What's even more annoying is that if you compare it with even the softest of FPS games nowadays it's absolutely harmless in nature. Compare that with something like Doom III and there is no parallel.
You mentioned a Halloween game?
Palace Pictures owned the rights to "Evil dead and Halloween" Hence the Game tie ins. Somewhere in the loft in my house in Gravesend I still have the C64 assembly code on paper for Halloween. Halloween was going to be a 3d Isometric version with you the female character (another radical thought for its time), being chased around by various characters controlled by the hockey masked Michael Myers character (not the one from Austin powers). Unfortunately because of the bad response to Evil Dead prior to it's release (RE: the anti video nasty protesters), Halloween was cancelled and my position was cancelled. After Evil Dead was released they took on Stan Schembri and Richard Joseph and created "Cauldron" and "Antiriad"
I spoke to Richard some years later at his flat in East Ham while he was programming Barbarian for the Amiga, and he explained that the Evil dead had only sold 5000 copies.
What did you do once leaving?
Because of the anti video-nasties propaganda being issued from the press, the Evil Dead game looked like it was going to have a hard time, so Halloween was cancelled and I left Palace Software. After I left, Palace went on to bigger and better things. Pete Employed Stan Schembri to program "Cauldron", and the company had a hit on their hands, followed by Antiriad and Cauldron 2. Palace continued until 1992 when they were bought out by a French programming house and that marked the end for Palace Software.
The Evil Dead might not have been the best game for the C64, but it had inside it all the game structures that are used in modern games. Many of the things that Richard programmed were totally new ideas at that time. Richard is now a Director of Electronic arts. Matthew Smith (Sales) apparently owns his own film company, Pete Stone works for Konami, and Stan Schembri for IBM. Apologies to "Slop" (the Secretary) and "Impossible productions" I don't know where you are. Richard Joseph (Music designer) has his own website. Me? I run my own little computer shop out here in Tor Hill road, Torquay Devon. Come say hello if your on holiday.
What do you make of the fans your game has after all these years?
I think it's great. It was a surprise to me to find my name on the internet after all these years. If I had the skills to program a game these days I could truly make a "Game which guarantees sleepless nights". Better still, I'd give a few pounds of flesh to project lead or design a remake using today's technology. Another piece of trivia for you. "The Evil Dead" by Palace Software has now been downloaded more times off the net from C64.com than its original number of sales.
Richard Leinfellner (Commodore 64 programmer)
This interview was conducted by
an excellent website devoted to Commodore 64 home computer related nostalgia. You can view the original interview page
Richard, how did you first get started in programming and what inspired you?
I started programming at school on a Research Machines 380Z, mostly in BASIC. I guess I liked it because I felt like a high tech pioneer.
What were your first and last ever productions on the C64?
The first one was The Evil Dead and the last was Barbarian.
Out of all the games you have worked on, which were you most proud and disappointed with?
The Evil Dead was the worst and Cauldron was my favourite. We broke some new ground in having a platform game with a scrolling section. Kind of a first, also the first time we had real art in a game.
You are famous for creating Cauldron on the C64. What was the inspiration for creating a game of this kind?
It was a co-production between me and Steve Brown. Steve was the artist, and one day he asked me: "Why are there either platform games or scrollers?" I thought about it for a little while and then told him there is no reason. They are always separate games so we started building a game which had both.
You also did the C64 conversion of the horror film The Evil Dead for Palace. Were you a fan of the film or did you find it more funny than scary?
I sort of hate horror films, so I was not keen watching it. My old boss and I watched it in fast forward eating pizza at his house. I thought it was quite funny and we came up with the simple design there and then. I now think the film broke new ground in many ways, including the way Sam financed it.
Were there any particular games that you would have loved to have worked on yourself, or converted from arcade?
I always wanted to do a 3D game but never really got round to it.
You worked on the fantastic beat'em up Barbarian, where an axe wielding warrior battled to save the princess. In what part did you play in the game's creation? Were you the original designer for the game?
I was by then more of a producer/lead programmer, and so the game was designed by Steve Brown. Steve had lots of great ideas such as the marketing campaign.
Barbarian was obviously inspired by the Conan series. Did you feel satisfied with the final outcome of the game and the reviews it received in general?
I thought it was a great game, the reviews were also excellent. I think we really hit the spot for single and multiplayer.
Barbarian caused controversy in the press due to its violence, but mainly for the advertisements which featured Maria Whittaker partially clad. How did you react at the time to all the fuss that was caused, and did you think it did the game more good than bad?
The game was great, the publicity was also great. In Germany we got banned. It all seems so tame now, but at the time it was rock and roll.
Did anyone's work on the C64 or other machines ever inspire you with your own creations?
Sprite multiplexing taken from the demo scene. That was pretty cool and allowed us to bring big characters to the screen.
What was it like to work at Palace Software? Was it a friendly and fun working environment to be in?
It was great! We had a great team spirit and socialised lots. I still keep in touch with many of the people.
Did you ever come across any disagreements or problems when creating any games?
I can't recall anything too bad. We were all pretty opinionated but there was lots of respect.
Found on the Internet was a breakout clone called Brick Busters, which is credited to yourself. Unfortunately not much else is known about the game. Is there anything more you could elaborate on about this title?
I did this game as part of a regular piece I did for a German magazine to teach kids C64 programming.
In your time on the C64, were there any other games that you worked on which sadly became scrapped or never quite made the light of day?
We did scrap some stuff but I can't really recall anything specific at the moment.
Out of all the games you've played, what was your favourite game on the C64 and on other systems?
Elite C64 and Lemmings Amiga.
Who were your favourite C64 coder/s, artist/s and musician/s at that time, or even today?
Jeff Minter on C64 programming, Jez Sans ST programming, Richard Joseph (music/SFX), and Steve Brown (design/art).
The C64 broke all records by establishing itself as the greatest selling home computer of all time, and lasted a staggering 12 years! What would you say impressed you most about the C64 and for what reasons?
It was such an advanced machine; well thought out and hugely powerful for its time. The sprite system was such fun to work with and the smooth scrolling was ahead of its time.
Would you say that the C64 was just a simple step in your programming life or was it a major inspiration for the future?
The C64 was designed by the same people who built the Amiga. They were some of the brightest people I have ever met. The C64 taught me that all computers are basically the same. This was a great step in my learning.
Do you still own a C64 today, and if so, do you still play it on occasion?
What are your current activities these days?
I am running a game team working on a big license for EA.
Do you feel that the games industry today is as fun as it used to be back in the 80's?
Mistakes are more costly and teams are huge, as are budgets. I now realise how na´ve we were then and how lucky I was to get into this business early.
If I was to tell you that with a C64 these days, you can new connect up a hard drive, CD-ROM drive, 20 Mhz accelerators, Internet connections (with a graphical browser) and also play Doom-like games. Would you believe me?
Not really. However, Commodore gave in the battle to Microsoft years ago. They had a world class machine with the Amiga and gave it all away through lack of focus, very sad.
What is your take in general on the whole retro phenomenon which is going on today with classic games and machines?
I see mobile phones as an ideal platform; simple gameplay can be compelling in people's busy lives.
Please feel free to send any greetings to anyone you know.
Steve Brown, Stan Schembri, Gary Carr, Richard Joseph, Dan Malone, etc.