Essential Too

Over some 40 editions of The Evil Dead on home video, dating back to Laserdisc, that film’s behind-the-scenes story was told. Then again. Then again. And again.

Invaluable adds to that. Again. With the focus on effects artist Tom Sullivan, Invaluable often drifts away from its core subject. While it’s incredible see actual props, stop motion armatures, trinkets, and locations with Sullivan, the content itself seems pulled from any number of those bonus features on Evil Dead discs.

Invaluable is equally invaluable to Evil Dead fandom and lore

It’s not wrong to interview Bruce Campbell for a documentary like this – it makes perfect sense – but Sullivan turns into a background character. Invaluable has all the trappings of a super fan project, whose interest in the movie supersedes Sullivan’s story.

This doesn’t make Invaluable a failure. It succeeds more in establishing the true camaraderie shared by the small crew who worked on Evil Dead, letting them tell wild/weird/funny stories as they reminisce about their parts and friendships. It’s clear all of them would likely jump at the chance to do it again as a group, even as they tour the convention circuit.

At about an hour into Invaluable, Sullivan shares multiple key stories from his life, including the loss of his wife and a car accident that caused him physical distress. In those moments, Invaluable finds the needed emotion and Sullivan’s reactions display the human side missing from the rest. Sullivan’s art matters and partially defines him; a documentary exploring lives through traumatic events brings richer material than digging into prop rooms. Kudos to Sullivan for his willingness to share these events on camera.

All that said, Invaluable is equally invaluable to Evil Dead fandom and lore. It belongs on any future release, whether the original movie or its sequels because so few ever show actual items from those movies. Invaluable still features the usual assortment of set photos and private Polaroids dug up in archives. In fact, Sullivan loads up a random 8mm reel only to discover test footage from Evil Dead 2 in a stellar moment. Even with the wavering focus, finding these priceless pieces of Sullivan’s career is worth the detours.


A lower-budget documentary, the video quality varies wildly. Sometimes it’s excellent, clear, and sharp. Other times, it’s weak SD digital video flush with artifacts. As such, detail and resolution waver wildly shot-to-shot.

Various artifact filters include faux film print damage and chunky blocking; that’s intentional of course. Tom’s early films, shot on 8mm, look as well as they could considering.

Like everything else, color saturation, contrast, and black levels bounce all over the quality spectrum. At its best though, Tom’s still drawings appear scanned at generously high resolution. They look sensational.


PCM stereo services Invaluable, but it’s rarely challenged. Dialog balances well. Music stays under the interview volume with the slightest bass.


An entire bonus documentary tells the story of filmmaker Josh Becker, and Becker is featured in additional interviews elsewhere on the disc too. A Tom Sullivan interview dates back to 1989. Evil Dead’s cinematographer Tim Philo is featured in another interview. A few short films from Invaluable director Ryan Meade, a making of one of them (Bong Fly), short clips, and promo materials finish this disc.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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A fine documentary about The Evil Dead, Invaluable is interesting even if the focus veers wildly from Tom Sullivan himself.

User Review
4 (1 vote)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 38 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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