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EVIL DEAD II, 1987
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Denise Bixler, Dan Hicks and Kassie Wesley DePaiva.
A sequel/remake of the film The Evil Dead. A young man named Ash takes his girlfriend Linda to a secluded cabin, and plays back a professor's tape recorded recitation of passages from the Book of the Dead. The spell calls up an evil force from the woods which turns Linda into a monstrous Deadite, and threatens to do the same to Ash. When the professor's daughter and her entourage show up at the cabin, the night turns into a non-stop, grotesquely comic battle with chainsaw and shotgun on one side, demon horde and flying eyeball on the other.
One of America’s most recognisable film directors, Sam Raimi has made some of the most entertaining and cheesy horror and action films in the last few decades, including Drag Me To Hell (dir. Sam Raimi), The Spiderman Trilogy (dir. Sam Raimi), Darkman (dir. Sam Raimi) and The Evil Dead Trilogy (dir. Sam Raimi). After watching the surprisingly funny and highly entertaining Evil Dead 2 (dir. Sam Raimi), it was a film that me and my mates couldn’t stop talking about days after seeing it on the television.
Considered by some people as being a remake on the first film of the series, the second instalment follows Ashley ‘Ash’ J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) as he takes his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) to a cabin in the middle of the woods that ‘Ash’ thinks is abandoned, unaware that it actually belongs to Professor Raymond Knowby (John Peakes). While looking around the cabin, ‘Ash’ finds The Book of the Dead on the Professor’s desk and after reading some passage from pages within the book, he soon finds himself alone within the cabin and fighting off the demons that have been released from the powerful and dangerous book.
During the course of the film, ‘Ash’ is constantly being confronted by demons in different forms and eventually encountering new characters that have come to the cabin for different reasons. Even though the reasons for the characters going to the cabin and the different demons don’t seem to make sense, it’s not the kind of film that you shouldn’t really think about too hard since the entire film is extremely entertaining and the story is really written to serve the audience with low-budget effects and cheesy gore.
With the screenplay written by Sam Raimi and Scott Spielgel, they have managed to write a film that is mainly driven by visual effects and this style is accompanied by the cheesy dialogue and great one-liners. The best dialogue is really written for Bruce Campbell to perform with and he manages to make even the worst pieces of the screenplay really entertaining and filled with character. And for people who don’t know who Scott Spielgel is, he later wrote Intruder (dir. Scott Spielgel), The Rookie (dir. Clint Eastwood) and From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (dir. Scott Spielgel).
Because Evil Dead 2 is my first review that has Bruce Campbell in it, I’ll use this rare opportunity to talk about his performance as well as the other cast members that briefly star in the film.
With the Evil Dead franchise being one of his first leading roles, the success that the films managed to create got him more work in other low-budget and B-Movie films that have made him most recognisable and the second Evil Dead film is the first time that I’ve seen him in a leading role. It comes to my surprise then to see him squeezing the most out of the cheesy dialogue and managing to make it work for his own gain that he pulls off very well. As well as using the screenplay for his own advantage, he does occasionally encounter other characters that appear for a brief period of time and even though they really serve as plot devices, it’s a great opportunity for Campbell to reflect his skills on other actors and actresses before confronting another demon. After only watching Campbell appear in small roles for The Spiderman Trilogy and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (dir. Phil Lord and Chris Miller), it’s great to see where this recognisable actor started his obscure career. Definitely worth watching just for his performance alone!
With only a budget of $3,500,000, the film’s crew managed to pull off some pretty good effects that used puppets and stop-motion models that would have used computer affects if it was to be remade for today’s cinema industry, which is accompanied by the creativity from both the director and editor.
The main driving force of the film was the simple fact that there was many effects made on a small budget and the list of effects that the different art departments managed to succeed in includes stop-motion and deformed corpses, all the props within the cabin coming to life, shape-shifting witches, a possessed hand and a gigantic demonic tree. Even though they all look obviously fake and aren’t made to look as serious as most of the horror films that were released at the time, the entire experience of the film was just to have fun with the audience and the fact that the crew and cast obviously knew this only makes these elements of the film more enjoyable.
As for the direction and the editing that was behind the film, director Sam Raimi and editor Kaye Davis made a film that was very fast paced and is actually structured quite well for this horror/comedy type of story. Considering the fact that Raimi’s choice of shots was quite interesting to see in the final edit of the film, he mainly uses hand-operated framing that makes a very claustrophobic and spooky feeling that suits well with the setting of the cabin.
Overall, Evil Dead 2 is one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a really long time and is a great starting point if you’ve never seen a horror film by Sam Raimi. Funny, exciting and gory, this is a true highlight of classic 80s films!
EVIL DEAD II