Watching The Evil Dead 2, I couldn’t help but wonder what the creative process must have been like. I can only imagine it involved Sam Raimi saying “Say, wouldn’t it be great if we took all of the stuff from the first movie and went ape-shit with it?” The answer is a resounding YES. The Evil Dead 2 takes all of the legitimate horror of the first film and turns it on its head to produce a much more manic and amusing experience, and turns Ashley “Ash” Williams from a terrified every-man into a one-liner-spitting-chainsaw-handed-Bad-Ass-Motherfucker.
The film begins with a highly abridged version of the first film (I actually had to look this up, I thought they were just having the same exact thing happen all over again Hangover 2 style) in which Ash (Bruce Campell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) head up to a cabin in the woods for a romantic getaway. When a recording from the previous resident of the house awakens an ancient evil spirit, Linda turns into a freakish undead version of herself and tries to kill Ash. Long story short (literally), Ash dismembers his now ex-lover only to be attacked by the evil spirit himself, which brings us to the real beginning of The Evil Dead 2. Ash, joined by the daughter of the previous residents of the house along with a few other unlucky souls, continues to battle the evil spirit as it possesses his fellows as well as himself.
Screw it, I’m not even going to go into the other characters. Let’s just jump to Ash, as he is the reason this movie works at all. The events of the first movie have left Ash shaken, but still alive. However, if you had to spend the whole night fighting the undead versions of your friends and family, not to mention your own possessed hand, you’d probably go a little crazy too. As for Ash, crazy he goes and the film goes along with him. At times this made the movie’s tone a bit too manic for me, but there were more than enough spot-on scenes to make up for that. I loved the Ash vs. Ash’s hand battle (as well as weighing down the severed hand with a copy of A Farewell to Arms), but I’ve got to say that nothing compares to the scene in which Ash finally dons his chainsaw-arm and sawed off shotgun. “Groovy” indeed.
– There were a lot of the make-up choices in The Evil Dead II that reminded me of John Carpenter’s The Thing, especially the neck-elongation of Deadite Henrietta near the end.
– Still the same over-contrasted volume issues as the first film, so don’t watch this at 1:00 am when your roommates are studying or sleeping like I did.
– The most defining scene of the whole movie for me was the part in which everything in the cabin starts laughing demonically at Ash, only for Ash to laugh just as demonically back. It felt like the movie had gone just as crazy as Ash had.
– After two of these movies I’m already tempted to start watching Burn Notice if only for Bruce Campbell’s presence
– The final scene is a great tie-in for the final entry of the Trilogy; Army of Darkness
The Verdict: 8.5/10 Impressive
I can understand why a lot of people disagree about whether The Evil Dead or the sequel is the better film, but from a level of sheer enjoyment I would say that the sequel wins hands-down. The first film succeeded by taking a genre-specific formula and executing it imaginatively and effectively, but The Evil Dead 2 creates a genre of its own that defies formula. The film sits somewhere between Horror and Comedy, reaching a wonderful level of over-the-top without stooping to self-parody. Some of the scenes fell a bit flat for me, but it’s the scenes that didn’t that stick out in my memory, and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.