'Evil Dead 2' Review: Bloody Looney Tunes
To understand the greatness of the success of this 1987 sequel to The Evil Dead, you have to picture that experiment happening today.
Imagine a movie that is promoted as a supposed sequel but is really more of a blurry, light remake/reboot. The events of the first movie are completely ignored storywise but used as inspiration for the first act of this story. And above all, the tone of this new film is much more focused on comedy and slapstick than on serious horror. These are two tonally different films, with no continuity between them. Also imagine that the cast & crew involved in this film are the same ones as the first like they were making a clean sweep of a prior "error" (a beloved movie!) to tell the story they really wanted to tell.
Also, imagine that the true sequel that the creators wanted to do included medieval knights and time travel portals, but they didn't get the money to make it so this movie basically ended up being the cheap version of their creativity.
In principle, that is Evil Dead 2. A shameless experiment that reimagines the first film but decides to take a decidedly more cartoonish and over-the-top route, to the point of standing firm on the border of self-parody.
That is why the quality of this film—which on paper seems doomed to failure—is undeniable. This is a vastly superior film that has more than deserved its place in many different "best of" lists.
Evil Dead 2, Repeating With a Unique Personality
In Evil Dead 2, it all starts with a modified recap. We see Ash coming back (or, well, really going for the first time) to the creepy cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Linda (played by Denise Bixler who replaced Betsy Baker in the same role). The extra friends or Ash's sister Cheryl are nowhere to be found inside the classic 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale.
Once again, we listen to the tape of archaeologist Raymond Knowby reciting passages of the Book of the Dead/Necronomicon, unleashing hell in the forest and in the cabin. Linda will be the first one to be possessed, forcing Ash to decapitate her in order to survive.
From then on, Evil Dead 2 shows us new characters/excuses of human bodies to be mutilated in different ways. Thus we meet, among others, professor Knowby's daughter Annie (Sarah Berry), Jake (Dan Hicks), Bobby (Kassie Wesley), and Annie's hideous and possessed mother Henrietta (Ted Raimi).
And although this sequel repeats many gags (like the rapist tree), Evil Dead 2 does it by spreading its wings for a very different experience with a unique personality.
What's Your Rating For Evil Dead 2?
High Speed Slapstick Horror
Sam Raimi seemed to be possessed by a 1940 slapstick cartoon demon. This is practically a horror live-action film inspired by Tom & Jerry or Looney Tunes at 1000 km/h, full of unforgettable and bizarre moments. Scenes like the room with all the objects coming alive laughing hysterically or the whole sequence with Ash's hand attempting to end its owner's life are absolute classics.
But the truly admirable thing about that slapstick feeling is that Raimi uses it masterfully to build an unhinged atmosphere of horror. Ash's anguished, nervous breakdown with laughter is the ideal reflection of the viewer's reaction. As the audience, it's impossible not to laugh and at the same time have an expression of discomfort or confusion.
The Evil Dead is the classic that started the cult, but Evil Dead 2 is, without a doubt, the best entrance of the whole saga.
Title: Evil Dead 2
Release Year: 1987
Director(s): Sam Raimi
Actors: Bruce Campbell, Dan Hicks, Sarah Berry, a.o.