EVIL DEAD II
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Picking up where the first film leaves off, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is fighting off the possession of evil spirits as the lone survivor of a demonic attack in a cabin in the woods. Soon enough, the daughter of the people who owned the cabin shows up with some people while looking for her parents. Chaos ensues.
Is it good movie?
Last night I had the opportunity to catch Army of Darkness on the big screen here in my city, so I thought that I was very fortunate to have this modern horror classic grace my desk earlier this week. I decided to make a night of it, settling into the couch watching the first two films before attending the rousing theatrical experience at midnight. I'm quite glad I watched all three films in one night as it really gave me the opportunity to see how Raimi's series grew and changed over the years.
Arguably the most popular entry into the series, Evil Dead II strikes the right balance between comedy and horror. The first film is much more serious, while Army of Darkness is like a live action cartoon. Once again, Bruce Campbell is the star of the show here, and this is where Ash really becomes the iconic hero of the series. The whole film essentially rests on his capable shoulders and the man really does everything he can. The first half hour of the film is really the Bruce Campbell show, as Ash struggles with both his sanity and the desire to stop his possessed hand from killing him. It's really funny, manic stuff that is infectious and compelling.
Before I wrote this review, I read my man The Arrow's review of this horror classic, and one of his big gripes was that other people showed up and that they were mostly unlikeable characters. I agree, but only in part. Although the male characters were pretty unlikeable, they weren't unbearable and to be honest, they don't last very long. This one really picks up a pretty frenetic pace and wastes no time doing it, with people getting possessed right from the start. I've always been told that this film is more of a remake of the first one, and although that could be partially true, I think that Evil Dead 2 is different enough to stand on its own.
What else can I say about a film that has been critically expounded upon by far worthier critics? Personally, I really enjoyed this film for the most part. Bruce Campbell is Jim Carrey's true predecessor, the gore is hilariously overdone, Henrietta is a great beastly monster, Ash's hand and chainsaw is a classic moment in horror, and who can forget when Ash becomes evil? The effects can get pretty awful at times, but they hold up for the most part. Ultimately, the film tends to collapse a bit under its own weight during the last half hour because it builds to such a fever pitch that the final scene just can't match the rest of the film.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 1.85:1 widescreen (fullscreen too), and the colors seem a bit muted but this one looks quite good for a film that's 20 years old.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (mixed with THX), and sounds awesome. This is a good way to show off your stereo system, and this movie relies a lot on its audio.
First is a commentary track with director Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, KNB's Greg Nicoterro and Scott Spiegel, and this kind of thing is always a treat. Everyone is in good spirits and full of great little tidbits. A really good listen.
Also, there's a featurette titled The Gore the Merrier: The Making of Evil Dead 2. It runs about a half an hour long and interviews all the big names you'd expect, focusing a lot on the boys from KNB effects. Lots of great behind the scenes stuff here. Good watch.
You'll also find a trailer, a little snippet from the old Evil Dead video game, a still gallery and talent bios.
Ultimately, Evil Dead II is a great addition to any horror fan's collection. It mixes humor with horror and adds buckets of copious, ridiculous gore to come up with a great combination. This is simply an entertaining, old school horror movie that strikes the perfect balance between the first film, and Army of Darkness (which was a blast to see on the big screen!).