Released six years after The Evil Dead, the cult hit sequel Evil Dead II sees the hero of the first movie, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) back at the cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Linda. When a tape recording unleashes evil spirits and his girlfriend is first possessed and then dismembered, Ash is left alone to fight the evil and at times his own body until the daughter of the cabin’s Archaeologist previous inhabitant joins him in the battle against malevolence.
I saw the original Evil Dead for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it. It was intense, gruesome and funny and last week I was also impressed with the remake which while not so funny, was just as intense, much scarier and more gruesome than I could manage. Evil Dead II is different again from its predecessor in that it forgoes a lot of the traditional horror and indeed most of the scares, in favour of creating a hilarious and downright bonkers movie which is entertaining from start to finish.
The film opens with the series’ hero Ash on his way to the cabin in the woods. Once there it isn’t long before all hell breaks loose (literally) and he is subjected to possessions, dismemberments, beheadings and litres upon litres of brightly coloured goo. At first I thought that our copy must have been missing a few scenes because it wasn’t explained why Ash was back at the cabin considering the harrowing events of the first film. Even now I’m not sure what he was doing there. The film takes less time to build than the original and instead of finely crafting a gruesome meal; it tips all of its ingredients into a blender and turns it on while forgetting to put the lid on. It sometimes feels a bit of a mess but then you look at some of the camera work and realise that it was probably planned to look like that.
A lot of the film feels like it’s in double speed. It isn’t of course but it rushes past you with so much carnage occurring in such a short space of time that it’s hard to keep up. I don’t think the story was particularly strong but the hero is on screen for most of the runtime and he spends it guring, slicing and reciting cringe worthy dialogue which is great fun and reminiscent of a 50s B-movie. Bruce Campbell’s acting doesn’t seem any better than it was in the first film but that’s half the charm and he embodies the character perfectly. The actors around him are mostly forgettable again and are mainly just cannon fodder. The dialogue, storyline and effects add up to making Evil Dead II the funniest horror movie I can remember seeing which goes a long way to combating the lack of scares which the film fails to produce.
The direction and camerawork is excellent. There are seemingly hundreds of great shots and picking a couple out is near impossible. The camera seems glued to Campbell’s face at times and follows him whether he’s upright, on the floor or spinning through the air or crashing down stairs. The camera adds a lot to the frenetic pacing of the movie and was probably my favourite thing. The effects were crazy and fun and look completely outdated in a good way. Instead of being ultra realistic and horrifying like in the Evil Dead remake, they are silly and fun. Silly and fun are the two words I’d actually use to describe the film as a whole. I don’t think Evil Dead II is as good as the first movie but it is just as fun and much sillier.
- The character of Bobby Jo was based on Holly Hunter who was a house mate of Sam Raimi's in the 1980s.
- A 'Freddy Krueger' glove can be seen hanging in the tool shed.
- Most of the film was shot on a set inside a school gymnasium.