Friday, October 30, 2015

Evil Dead II (1987)

Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (USA, 1987) - Color, Director(s): Sam Raimi
MPAA Rating: Unrated
[UK: 15]
Approx. 84 min.

Z-rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cheese Factor: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the film most people think of when talking about The Evil Dead franchise. A bigger and better sequel that features more over-the-top gore, slapstick moments, and memorable one-liners. This is also where Ash really comes into his own as the bad ass hero of the franchise with a chainsaw arm and his trusty boomstick. There has been some confusion, even among fans, whether this is truly a sequel or a remake of the first one. Ash burns the book at the end of the first The Evil Dead but this one opens with him driving up to the cabin, finding the book, and playing the recording all over again. Technically, this is both a remake and a sequel. The opening sequence of Ash arriving at the cabin with his girlfriend is just a recap of the events from the original film, he even decapitates her with a shovel again. Originally, the script had all five characters from the first film returning but the others were cut to save time and money. When the unseen force moving through the house pushes Ash through the forest, this is a continuation of the final shot of the first film.

The Evil Dead was originally titled Book of the Dead but Irvin Shapiro, the man responsible for distributing Night of the Living Dead among other famous horror films, suggested Raimi change the title because it made the film sound boring. Raimi's interest in H.P. Lovecraft was the inspiration for the film's original title, which might explain why they immediately establish the name of the book as the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis at the beginning of this film. Ash takes even more abuse this time around as he battles the demons that possess damn near everything including his hand, the cabin, and even inanimate objects like lamps and a mounted deer head.

Things only get worse when the daughter of Professor Knowby, the archaeologist on the tape recorder, comes to the cabin looking for him. At first she assumes that Ash murdered her parents so he gets dumped in the cellar but then the other people she brought with her just serve as fodder for the evil spirits. From there, it's (much) more of the same chaos from the first one only with better effects. Some of the best gags include Ash's reflection jumping out of the mirror and choking him before the camera pulls back to reveal his own hands around his throat, an eyeball flying out of a demon's squished head into someone's mouth, and of course the infamous scene where Ash cuts his own hand off with a chainsaw. In order to stop the spirits, they have to collect missing pages of the Necronomicon and read the correct passages to send them away. This is one of those films that's hard to explain why it's so great, you just have to see it for yourself. Where the first Evil Dead is more of a straight horror, this one perfectly balances the slapstick elements with the ridiculously over-the-top gore and genuinely creepy moments. 

Nudity: None, which is a shame cause Kassie Wesley who played Bobby Joe was smokin' hot. The trees are still up to no good but they don't rape or molest anyone this time around.


Gore: Tons. This is on the same level as Peter Jackson's Braindead a.k.a. Dead Alive as far as splatstick horror comedy goes, although not quite as much fake blood is used. Much of the gore in both films are used for gross-out comedic effect rather than to disturb audiences.

I'll let you guess what's happening here

Awesome: to the MAX! This movie is balls to the walls insane. Raimi's trademark inventive camerawork puts us in the perspective of the unseen evil force moving through the woods and the cabin. We never see what it is but it chases Ash through the cabin at one point. Ash's personality is fleshed out more and he becomes the hero most people know from the comics and video games. There aren't any rules for how the evil spirits possess you and like the first film, the only way to kill anyone possessed is to completely dismember the body. There are some interesting easter eggs like Freddy Krueger's glove can be seen in the tool shed and the basement, this was in response to Wes Craven putting The Evil Dead on TV in A Nightmare On Elm Street. What's interesting about this is easter egg is that the Necronomicon appears briefly in Jason Goes to Hell, where Freddy's glove also pops up at the end and pulls Jason's mask down to Hell. Many years later, there would be talks of Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash as a sequel to Freddy vs. Jason. The movie fell through but fans would eventually get to see the three horror icons face-off in the comics. Overall, this is my favorite film in the franchise but all of them are worth a look if you haven't seen them. There's a reason this franchise remains so popular among fans.

Check out the trailer here: