|31 Days of Horror: Day 2|
Evil Dead II picks up right where...well, where the other movie began. This time around, though, only Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend, Linda (Denise Bixler), make the poor choice to spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods. This isn't a creepy, ramshackle cabin, though; it is well-furnished --- it even has a piano! --- and looks more like a vacation home than anything else. Not that Ash and Linda are renting it or anything; Ash is taking her there because it is "deserted." Essentially, Ash is an aspiring squatter. He then makes the mistake of playing an audio tape he finds on a desk in the cabin, where a professor of some sorts reads off his phonetic translation of the passages in the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, or the "Book of the Dead." Soon enough, an evil spirit possesses Linda, she get decapitated by Ash's shovel, and Ash is the last person standing, alone in the woods with some sort of woods demon out to get him. To this point, the story has been pretty much a highly edited (about six minutes long!) remake of the original movie. But then things start to get a little weird.
|That's right: hillbilly-in-overalls weird|
- the only bridge leading to or from the cabin has been wrecked by the demon spirit thing
- Ash is a stranger, covered in blood and Annie's parents are missing
- All they have to do is decode a dead language and apply that knowledge to the problem at hand
The acting in Evil Dead II is certainly not impressive at first glance, but Bruce Campbell's improvement is more noticeable if you compare it to his work in the previous film. This is less of a straight horror movie, as it has added a lot of broad slapstick comedy to the mix, and that plays to Campbell's strengths. Specifically, he does well with exaggerated expressions and hammy dialogue, so the cartoony sequences in the movie (especially Ash vs. his hand) are a lot of fun to watch.
|"What's up, Doc?" would have fit this scene like a glove|
|Why is this not Ted Raimi's IMDb image?|
Only one film bridges the gap between the Sam Raimi that made The Evil Dead and the one that made Evil Dead II, but it makes all the difference. Raimi is much more confident as a director and the overall feel of the film is less "amateurish" and more "professional with a low budget." The most obvious difference between the two films is the conscious choice to add a lot more comedy to Evil Dead II, and that was probably the right choice. Raimi has a talent for capturing comedy on camera, especially slightly awkward comedy, and this was his first true platform to show off that talent. I don't know if I would say that Raimi was any better at directing the cast in this film, but he and Bruce Campbell seemed to be working on the same comedic wavelength, if nothing else. The cinematography, while not spectacular, wasn't bad. The iconic POV shot of the evil woods demon thingie tearing through the woods made a return, and that was probably the most memorable bit of cinematography in the film. Raimi also did a good job capturing some truly weird and gross moments on film.
|...sometimes bordering on cold-medicine-induced-nightmare moments|
Evil Dead II may be going for laughs, but there are still enough horror tropes to satisfy most fans of the genre. If you're looking for fake blood, this has some of the more ridiculously over-the-top spurts of the 80s. I was a little surprised to notice that there is very little gore captured on-camera, though; the most gruesome scenes simply show blood spattering on something else, like the wall of the shed.
|Remember those Gatorade "sweat" ads? Raimi missed an advertising tie-in.|
|Can you imagine this with 80s CGI? Ugh. Now THAT'S gross.|
|"NO RAPE TREE? NO X RATING! IT'S PRACTICALLY A RULE!"|
In fact, Evil Dead II is generally less horrific than the original movie, despite the cast and director having more experience and money to work with. And yet, Evil Dead II is a much, much more entertaining movie on every other level. The characters are a lot less irritating, the story makes a little bit more sense, and the comic weirdness and goofiness that comes from a hero with a chainsaw hand all add up to something odd and unique. Ash may have been the main character in The Evil Dead, but the character that has become a cult icon doesn't appear until he grabs a chainsaw and shotgun.
|Behold: Ash is born!|
Oh, and I have come to a realization with the "is it a remake or a sequel" question that surrounds this movie. We don't actually see the Necronomicon after the six-minute recap at the beginning of the film, just the additional pages. It is entirely possible that the events of the first film could have happened (minus, I guess, the other two friends). So, aside from the recap --- which was necessary to explain what the hell was going on --- there is little to no remaking going on. Why did they film the recap instead of showing clips from the original film? Since it was made by a different production company, I will assume there was some sort of ownership issue.