If there’s something that can be said about Sam Raimi it’s that he’s a director that doesn’t allow himself to be taken super-seriously, crafting films that jump different genres. Even with disappointing failures like Spider-Man 3 and Oz: The Great and Powerful, Raimi still goes for it. He started out as an amateur filmmaker shooting short horror movies on his super 8 camera at a young age, which helped catapult Raimi onto the next step which would prove his metal as a filmmaker; The Evil Dead. Considered a cult classic to this day, the original film still stands as one of the corniest but imaginative horror films ever made, and its successful legacy put both Raimi and main star Bruce Campbell on the map.
Six years after the original was released, a sequel materialised in Evil Dead 2, a film that maintained the creepy horror of the first but cranked up the corniness into a perfect hybrid of funny and scary. In many ways, this is a superior film in the series and one of the best sequels ever made. The main protagonist in Ash has gone from the dorky, gormless dweeb of the first film into the iconic larger-than-life, line-quoting screw-up we all know and love. Bruce Campbell absolutely nails the role to a T. The deterioration of Ash’s psychology into madness is interlaced perfectly with the humour and slapstick that unfolds on screen, and as absurd as it is, it humanizes Ash all the more.
The relationship between Ash and the Kandarian Demon and its Deadites minions is perfectly established in this film to hilarious, cartoonish degree. While the eerie atmosphere is not quite as terrifying as the original film, this one makes up for it by drenching you in the face with plenty of blood since the gore is just as imaginative as before. The added touch of black comedy is great, most notably during the sequence where Ash takes on his possessed hand, which rivals the slapstick in The Three Stooges. Also, it’s worth noting how incredibly quotable the script is with plenty of one-liners that stay with you long after the film has finished (“Swallow this!” Groovy!” “Oh god, how do ya stop it!?”).
In many ways, Evil Dead 2 remains one of the greatest sequels of all time, is the best of the series, and is the one that gave the franchise its definitive style and tone. Whereas the original was a corny, low-budget horror film intended to be the most shocking film in its genre at the time, this film was arguably the first “true” Evil Dead movie since everything that came after with Army of Darkness and the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series borrowed heavily from this. With a special 4K Ultra HD release right around the corner, now is the perfect time to delve back in and have a blast from start to finish.
Dir: Sam Raimi
Scr: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier
Prd: Robert Tapert, Alex De Benedetti, Irvin Shapiro
DOP: Peter Deming
Music: Joseph LoDuca
Run time: 84 mins
Evil Dead 2 will be released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-Ray on March 4th.