Following the success of The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi decided to go down the horror comedy route and cast his charismatic lead Bruce Campbell once again as the ultimate anti-hero Ash Williams. Unfortunately for Ash, his battle with the undead is not over in the 1987 sequel, which, although a very different beast, overshadows the original The Evil Dead movie in many ways as being one of the greatest horrors of all time.
Best known among fans for a hilarious single line, quippy dialogue and Bruce Campbell slaughtering demonic creatures with yet another chainsaw in a comedic fashion, Evil Dead II is more light-hearted though no less gory than its predecessor. In a bizarre re-imagined re-cap of the first movie, Ash and his beloved girlfriend Linda head to a secluded cabin in the woods on a romantic vacation. However, a foolish archeologist has left behind a tape recording of himself reading a demonic incantation from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis; a Book of The Dead which, according to legend, raises demons and allows them to possess the living. The tape plays and hell literally breaks loose, possessing Linda and forcing Ash to promptly dismember her in a comical series of grotesque and terrifying events.
The bulk of the film sees Ash trying to escape his flesh-eating undead lover and evil inanimate objects which turn on him inside the cabin. Most memorable of the special effects is the evil animatronic Stag’s Head above the fireplace. In fact, the special effects were understandably nominated for a Saturn Award as the production team brought the entire cabin to life in the most horrible of ways. Slowly driven insane by the demon, the most recollected, famous scene is that of Campbell chainsawing off his own possessed hand, screaming, wide eyed and covered in blood whilst in-between trying to negotiate with the archeologist’s daughter Annie about how to put the dead to rest. Once again, an array of characters are killed in increasingly violent and hilarious ways with the genuine eighties-style gore that defined the first making a triumphant return to form.
Bruce Campbell may not be the super-serious intense axe-wielding knight in shining armour we see in the contemporary carbon copies of Evil Dead II, but he is a tough and quippy badass who pulls no punches when dealing with unholy monsters. More interestingly, Raimi sets us up for the third installment which is very far removed from that godforsaken little cabin.
With the darkest of humour taking the edge off the chills and thrills, Evil Dead II is certainly not as nightmarish as the first movie but is equally as blood splattered and more subversive with its guilty laughs making it the most ‘Groovy’ horror film in history.
Best Line: ‘Groovy’ – Ash Williams, after cutting off his own hand and re-attaching a chainsaw in it’s place.
Best Scene: Ash starts to go stir crazy inside the cabin leading to his own hand becoming possessed.
Good Question: “For God’s sake! How do you stop it?”
Pesky Pigs: Contrary to popular belief, this is still a sequel and not a remake of the first film. The crew could not obtain the rights for the original footage to re-tell how Ash got to the cabin and woke the demons so they had to film the scenes again with a slightly different narrative.
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