Friday, October 12, 2012

Evil Dead II (1987) Review

Evil Dead 2 posterDirector: Sam Raimi
Stars: Bruce Campbell
Genre: Horror, Comedy

A follow up to Sam and Bruce's 1981 The Evil Dead, though Evil Dead 2 doesn't continue the story of the first, it actually reboots it. I'm not exactly sure why they thought they needed a reboot of a film only six years old, but I guess it worked out for the best.

It's essentially the same plot as the first, but we get thrown into the action much quicker here. There's really no build-up and within the first ten minutes we already see Bruce, or Ash rather as his character is named, killing demons. His girlfriend gets possessed and he has to kill her. Then more people actually go to the cabin, looking for their father who was supposed to be working there. Together they do their best to survive the evil demons.

This one puts much more of an emphasis on comedy rather than horror. The first one was much, much scarier and had a vastly superior atmosphere and sense of claustrophobia. It's a shame that this one didn't do those things as well, but this reboot does manage to do a few things better than the first.

First of all, this film is hilarious. It might even be a bit funnier than Army of Darkness when it comes down to it. Bruce Campbell successfully delivers a very slapstick performance that will have you laughing the entire time. My favorite scene hands-down is when all the furniture in the house comes alive and starts laughing at Ash and Ash just laughs right back at them. I could watch that scene all day.

And you have to love Ash's possessed hand who just keeps causing problems. I suspect it was inspired by a short film Sam and Bruce worked on withe their friend Scott Spiegel directing (who also co-wrote the script for Evil Dead) when they were younger called Attack of the Helping Hand!

Bruce Campbell as Ash is a much more memorable and iconic character than from the first one. In the first one he was almost a generic genre character, but in this he's much more of a badass and dons his signature look, with chainsaw and double barrel.

Bruce Campbell as Ash in Evil Dead II

I shouldn't even have to say that Bruce Campbell gives an amazing performance. But I will. Bruce Campbell gives an amazing performance. He's a charm to watch every second.

This film, as with all the others in the series, has its awesome camera angles and techniques. From the swooping shot to the weird distorted shot, it's all quite beautiful camerawork. As I've said before, The Evil Dead series has some of the greatest cinematography in the horror genre. 

The special effects are decently done. I still think the first one has the best effects of the entire series, but the effects here aren't too bad. They're not as scary but they get the job done.

A deadite from Evil Dead II

The original Evil Dead felt like a very traditional horror film, with a bunch of kids in a cabin in the woods it almost felt like a set-up to a Friday the 13th film. In here it doesn't feel like that at all, which is good, but alas it still has a few genre conventions. Like all the bad decisions made and whatnot. Still, an improvement from the first.

Many people consider this to be superior to the first one. I disagree. Though this does some things better, and some things worse, I still slightly prefer the original to this. The first one was actually scary and had such a great atmosphere. Though this one has the iconic Ash character and some pretty damn funny parts. So it is a tough one.

Ash's possessed hand sticking up the middle finger in Evil Dead II

Either way both are worth watching. A classic of the genre. 

Fun fact: Evil Dead II references A Nightmare on Elm Street in one scene when Freddy Krueger's glove can be seen hanging on the wall. This is a reference to a reference in A Nightmare on Elm Street when The Evil Dead can be seen playing on the TV.  In turn, that scene was a reference to the torn The Hills Have Eyes poster seen in the original Evil Dead film, which was itself a reference to a torn Jaws poster in The Hills Have Eyes. Try figuring that shit out. 

4/5 stars
Predecessor: The Evil Dead (1981)
Remake: The Evil Dead (2013)

Purchase Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn: Blu-Ray - DVD - Stream

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