"Evil Dead II" Review – Continuity Is My Deadite
Evil Dead II was born out of a simple and pedestrian necessity.
After the absolute collapse of his 1986 film Crimewave, Sam Raimi knew he needed a hit so that his career, still incipient, would not hit a wall.
The Evil Dead was his only hit so far. So, logically, a sequel was the logical answer.
Raimi had serious problems getting financing, but he got it. It helped a lot that Stephen King (a loud supporter of the first film) begged mega-producer Dino De Laurentiis to help with the funds.
De Laurentiis accepted, but with some reservations. That’s why Raimi’s original plan, which was to place Ash in the Middle Ages, could not be carried out due to the limited budget.
Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel then proceed to create a script that at times seemed focused to essentially insult the original The Evil Dead. As if it were a forced assignment made with cynicism, both ended up creating a kind of sequel/reboot that was really a brazen self-parody of the universe that they had created 7 years before.
Continuity was sent straight to hell. It matters little that the original film focused on Ash and four friends. Now we would have a clean slate, with only Ash and his girlfriend. Oh, the cabin and the Necronomicon were destroyed in the first movie? Don’t worry, they will just re-appear intact, without any further explanation.
And above all, this sequel would no longer have a serious horror tone. This would be a physical comedy, a splatstick. An episode of The Three Stooges mixed with Looney Tunes, all bathed in gallons of fake blood.
Just imagine if something like this happened today. From all points of view, logic dictated that this sequel should have been a resounding failure. The fans of the first movie should have been offended by this cruel and cynical Raimi joke. Evil Dead II was simply an absolute insult to continuity and to the creation of narrative universes.
Incredibly, none of this happened.
While its premiere and box office was moderate, Evil Dead II would end up becoming the absolute favorite entry of the franchise.
With Evil Dead II, Sam Raimi finally found his own voice. His experience and experimentation lead him to this point. This was the movie he always really wanted to do and logic was not going to get in his way.
Evil Dead II is not a sequel, but a comic reinterpretation of the original story. Same structure, different details: Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler, replacing actress Betsy Baker) travel to a remote cabin to spend their vacations. Ash found the Necronomicon and a tape recorder in the living-room of the old cabin. Verbal enchantments occur. The POV of the Evil Dead running through the forest is activated. All hell breaks loose.
From then on, Evil Dead II becomes a wonderful cinematic machine of frenetic shots, zoom-ins, amazing camera movements and dozens of practical effects designed exclusively to entertain us within the framework of horror. Laughing furniture (including the iconic bust of a demonic reindeer), obese deadites filled with pus and giant demon trees are just part of Raimi’s arsenal (aided by brilliant minds like Greg Nicotero) for this 90 minutes of absolute grotesque fun.
Evil Dead II not only worked because of the expertise of Sam Raimi. Bruce Campbell made a physical performance that has been perhaps underestimated by the artistic elite for its obvious over-the-top and absurd intentionality.
Not only does Campbell carries the vast majority of the film (he appears in roughly 90% of the screen time), but during the entire first half, his performance practically holds the mayhem tone all by himself. One of the most memorable scenes in the film includes Ash battling against his own possessed hand. Campbell, with a muscular charisma with few precedents, makes the absurd idea work. This is practically a pop culture cinematic version of a contemporary dance.
What's Your Rating For Evil Dead II?
That’s why Evil Dead II is also the consecration of Ash as a horror iconic character. Ash finally has it all: His internal fight with Evil Ash, his severed hand replaced by a chainsaw, his short-cannon shotgun, his one-liners and catch-phrases. This is Ash’s true origin.
Evil Dead II is a wonderful paradox. Canceling and ignoring the original film, it ended up validating it and boosting it to new heights. It is my favorite entry in the Evil Dead saga.
Even beyond the horror genre, there is just no other example in the history of cinema that resembles the feat achieved by this movie.
Evil Dead II is simply a wonderful unique rarity that reveals a new gag with each viewing.
Title: Evil Dead II
Release Year: 1987
Director(s): Sam Raimi
Actors: Bruce Campbell, Dan Hicks, Sarah Berry, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards