Evil Dead II (aka Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn)

Dir: Sam Raimi, 1987

7/10

With Sam Raimi’s 1987 horror classic, you have to ask yourself, “is it a sequel?” or “is it a remake?”. Maybe, it’s a re-imagining. I’m not sure, that even the director knows.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) takes his girlfriend, Linda, to a secluded cabin in the woods.

While there, he inadvertently releases a horde of demonic spirits, intent on killing Ash and Linda.

Despite the addition of the number two at the end of it’s title, this movie does not follow on from Raimi’s 1982 revered masterpiece.

The only character to appear from the first one, is Ash. Even though it is strongly inferred that he died at the end of the original, here he is, in this, unharmed and with no recollection or any mention of the previous events.

So, what is Evil Dead II? 

I’ve no idea but, in the long run, it isn’t really that important because the film is a very funny, clever and inventive movie that is a joy from start to finish.

Taking a slightly different approach than it’s predecessor, this entry into the series has a much more comical tone to everything, emphasising the humour. The Evil Dead had a current of comedy running through it all, but could be easily missed amongst the gore and terror.

For this, Raimi has lessened the horrific nature that was so dominant in the 1982 feature, and transformed it into slapstick, strengthening The Three Stooges influence.

Bruce Campbell is perfect as the unlikely hero, Ash. A self proclaimed B-movie actor and proud of it, Campbell adds just the right amount of ham and stupidity to the character, making him the ideal person for the role. A natural for comedy, Campbell is an amiable sort with a predilection for self deprecation and no hint of Hollywood egotism.

What is blatantly clear, is the fun that everybody has while making it and this comes through. Old friends director Raimi, star Campbell and producer Rob Tapert, made the movie out of love and not money, allowing the audience to join in.

However, The Evil Dead was, and is, a masterpiece. Infinitely rewatchable, the film never loses any of pleasure, resisting the disease of time and becoming stale. But, this entry (or incarnation) misses out on the thing that made the original so perfect.

A bigger budget, Evil Dead II is liberated from the restrictions of time and money that weighed on the aspiring filmmakers all the way back in ’79. And that is a good deal of the problem.

Working on a limited (miniscule) budget, the making of the original was a showcase of creativity. The cheap, yet very effective, special effects, added to the brilliance of it all. It’s gung ho, guerilla style way of working, lies at the heart of the movie’s success. A cost measuring ad-campaign, ties the package off nicely.

Here, there is no denying the thought that went into the production, with several minds collaborating and synching perfectly.  The stronger special effects are more professional, but seem less impressive, subtracting the low grade, rough feel that helped the first film.

That’s not to say that Evil Dead II is a bad film. Far from it. There are some wonderfully hilarious moments, that will make you belly laugh and keep you chuckling long after the credits have rolled. It just, sadly, lacks the power and punch of Raimi’s debut feature.

All sequels or follow ups, have the problem of living up to its older sibling and this is no different. The Evil Dead is an hard act to follow.

A joyful and imaginative film, that still stands up well.

Definitely worth watching.

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