Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Cambell
Review Author: Tony
It’s a strange thought that Evil Dead 2 was a film made out of reluctance and somewhat desperation by the man who brought this insanely entertaining series. After the knockout success of Sam Raimi’s microbudget horror, The Evil Dead, Irvin Shapiro, a publicist who helped make the film a mainstream hit, approached Raimi with the plans to make a sequel. Raimi had no interest as he was suddenly a hot prospect in Hollywood and was given his first big budget to make his first studio film, Crimewave.
Unfortunately for Raimi (fortunately for all of us), Crimewave was a disaster receiving poor reviews and bombing at the box office leaving him wondering whether his career was over just as it was beginning. Feeling he had little options Raimi took Shapiro up on his offer and began writing a script. Backed by horror legend Stephen King, who loved the first film, Raimi was set up with a producer and distribution company. After many rewrites of the script, Raimi decided that he was going to make a sequel that he wanted, focusing on comedy and slapstick (he was a big Three Stooges fan) with an emphasis on guts and gore.
Although named Evil Dead 2, the film isn’t quite a direct sequel to the first as certain characters and events from the original film are excluded. Instead of the original cast of five, Evil Dead 2 instead opens with Ash and his girlfriend Linda going to the infamous log cabin where the basic plot of the first film unfolds within the first 20 minutes of Evil Dead 2. From there the film follows Ash as he deals with the situation and slowly slips into madness as the lines between reality become blurred.
It’s no secret that I consider myself a superfan of the Evil Dead series and an enthusiast of Raimi’s films. It’s a series that has evolved and dipped itself into various genres all while showing Raimi’s talent behind the camera. While Evil Dead one certainly had humour it played more like a straight horror while the third entry in the series, Army of Darkness embraced the comedy aspect over the horror. Evil Dead 2 manages to be a perfect blend of both horror and comedy with some genuine spine-tingling scenes and scares, yet at the same time delivering an abundance of laughs.
Ash Williams takes his girlfriend Linda on a romantic getaway to an abandoned cabin in the woods. While enjoying each others company they discover recording equipment from an archaeologist. Out of curiosity, Ash plays the recordings and hears about the discovery of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, The Book of the Dead. As the archaeologist recites pages from the book, a demonic force awakens and posses Linda forcing Ash to kill the woman he loves. Unfortunately, Ash’s ordeal is far from over as he is forced to survive the night.
Raimi has a number of motifs he’s used throughout his career which can be attributed to this film. The first person shot as the camera rushes forward, the zoom in on items of interest or extreme close-ups to capture character reactions and dutch angles. Here Raimi uses them to capture tense and genuinely scary scenes with unorthodox angles and wide shots which feel they can be invaded at any second. It’s the laughs where Raimi’s style truly reigns supreme with clumsy characters, over the top reactions and buckets of goo and gore.
Two sequences come to mind which displays Raimi’s mastery, firstly a scene where Ash has to dispose of his former lover’s possessed head which is latched onto his hand comically by her teeth. He rushes to the utility shed looking for his world-renowned chainsaw only to pull off a cover and see a chalk outline of where chainsaw should be (a fantastic visual gag). The scene is then ramped up to a hilariously absurd degree as Linda’s headless body barges into the shed with his missing chainsaw. The second scene and one of the most well known is where Ash begins to lose his mind in the sitting room as various inanimate objects come to life and laugh menacingly.
Of course one cannot simply just write about an Evil Dead film without singing the praise of it’s leading man, Ash Williams. Ash is the man of the hour, an everyday guy forced into a terrifying situation and musters the strength to become a hero and spout some great zingers (Groovy). It’s a role made for only one man, the great Bruce Campbell. Campbell has spent most his years flaunting his pristine chin in various B movies but his charisma and smug humour has made him a cult superstar. Unfortunately, Bruce retired Ash Williams after the cancellation of Ash vs The Evil Dead but it’s a role only he could play and he blessed us with it for nearly 40 years.
Rating: 5 / 5 Jack-o’-lanterns