Evil Dead II (1987)
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Call it a sequel, call it a re-make, call it a stand-alone film, call it whatever you like but Evil Dead II is still one of the daddies of the horror genre. A culmination of raw talent, smart ideas, excellent execution and Ash, Evil Dead II is the business.
Our hero Ash returns, or continues (or whatever) his duel with the Candarian demons or deadites, in the follow-up to Sam Raimi’s classic The Evil Dead. Surviving the first night against the forces of evil, can Ash survive again and stop these horrors from hell?
Of course he can, it’s Ash and it’s going to be groovy.
For those who may have missed the original horror classic The Evil Dead (shame on you and let the deadites take your soul), fear not [for] Evil Dead II lets you in on all that has gone before.
Ash (Bruce Campbell – Army of Darkness / Maniac Cop / Bubba Ho-Tep), our hero has decided a nice trip away into a deserted log cabin with his girl friend is the ideal place for some time alone, though little does he know what is in store for him. While at the cabin, Ash finds a tape recorder and an old book, bound in what looks like leather. This book however, is the Book of the Dead, also called the Necronomicon, a book which is written in blood and bound in the skin of the dead. This book when read aloud can raise the dead and the evil spirits and demons within its pages.
All of this is unknown to Ash until he plays the tape recorder and hears the voice of Professor Knowby. The professor details the history of the book and starts to read passages aloud from it. With these recorded passages being played aloud from the tape recorder the demons and spirits rise up and take Ash’s girlfriend, Linda (Denise Bixler – Crisis in the Kremlin). Ash running out into the woods to find her, but he finds that she is now possessed by the evil Candarian demons, which are now after him. After a classic encounter with his possessed girlfriend, involving expert shovel work, decapitation and a flying head, Ash buries his now dead girlfriend and heads back to the cabin for safety.
This is now where Evil Dead II really starts to begin, because what has past so far is just back story from the first Evil Dead movie. Ash, after surviving his first night against the evil dead, sleeps to wake the following night just as the sun is about to set. With the sun still just in the sky Ash tries to make his escape, but it seems the demons and spirits have blocked his escape by destroying the bridge. With the sun ebbing away Ash must get back to the cabin as the demons and spirits will be out to get him come nightfall.
As the next night arrives Ash must once again fight off the evil dead if he’s to survive once more. What follows is cinematic gold, as Bruce Campbell produces a tour-de-force of self harm, energy and down-right lunacy as he portrays Ash being attacked mercilessly by the demons and spirits of the evil dead. With one scene, the possession of Ash’s hand; with queues from Tex Avery and The Three Stooges, Sam Raimi (Darkman / Spider-Man / Within the Woods) with the energy of Bruce Campbell, create a scene that goes down as a classic in movie history.
With Ash’s hand possessed, there’s only one course of action, cutting the dam thing off. So with chainsaw in hand, he dispatches the possessed appendage, for it to scamper off, giving the finger as it goes. Now one hand down and with more and more attacks from the evil dead, Ash’s is losing it big time. With monsters and demons coming at him from every direction and blood flying by the gallons, what could be coming next for our hero?
It seems that there are a few other people that want to come and stay at this ‘fun house’ of a log cabin. Annie Knowby (Sarah Berry – C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud), daughter of the professor and her boyfriend Ed Getley (Richard Domeier – Die Hard 2 / Teen Wolf) have some pages from the Necronomicon that they want to show the professor, unaware of what has been going on at the cabin. With Jake (Dan Hicks – My Name Is Bruce / Darkman / Spider-Man 2) and Bobbie Joe (Kassie Wesley DePaiva – One Life to Live) in toe, who are two hillbilly locals who show them the way to the cabin.
With more lambs to the slaughter the mayhem cranks up a gear with everything from possessed dead biddies in the basement, flying eyeballs and chainsaw shenanigans. Raimi goes for every trick in his messed up book of tricks, with brake-neck speed camera work and ingenious effects, all with an excellent sense of fun yet never losing the horror.
Though maybe not as tense and horrifying as the first Evil Dead, nothing can stop this film from being the shining light of what horror and cinema can be when in the right hands. Bruce Campbell is immense as Ash, now a true cinematic hero of the highest order, and Raimi’s direction, ingenuity and plain fun with genre if easy to see and make Evil Dead II such a pleasure to watch. With its sequel Army of Darkness, more an adventure/action film than a true horror, the Evil Dead trilogy is one set of films that everybody should have in their collection.