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Face-Off: Evil Dead II vs. Shaun of the Dead

10.20.2015by: Brian Bitner
All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up! Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres next weekend (Halloween night, to be precise), marking the return of Bruce Campbell as the titular Ash Williams. I was already curiously anticipating the show, but when I found out one of the wonderful servers at my local bar, the beautiful and talented Dana DeLorenzo, had been cast in a lead role, you'd better believe I was on board.

Horror comedy films have been around almost as long as the horror genre itself (which is no surprise given how absurd horror movies can get). Since its release in 1987, EVIL DEAD II has been considered one of the best horror comedies of all time, alongside cult classics like DEAD ALIVE and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. In 2004, though, a small British film called SHAUN OF THE DEAD hit the scene and has been making its way to the top of those lists ever since...but which is the better farce of the dead? Let's go.
LEAD
Bruce Campbell as Ashley "Ash" Williams, one of if not the main reason EVIL DEAD franchise is so beloved. No one can say "groovy" quite like Bruce.
Simon Pegg as Shaun, the lovable, irresponsible everyman in the role that put Pegg on the map in the States. Shaun is also a fantastic character, to be sure, but Ash is Ash.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS
Sarah Berry as Annie
Dan Hicks as Jake
Kassie Wesley DePaiva as Bobby Joe
Denise Bixler as Linda
Richard Domeier as Ed
Ted Raimi as Possessed Henrietta


While the acting in this film is certainly better than its predecessor, it's still Campbell's show.
Nick Frost as Ed
Kate Ashfield as Liz
Lucy Davis as Diane
Dylan Moran as David
Penelope Wilton as Barbara
Bill Nighy as Philip
Peter Serafinowicz as Pete

A lot of great British comedic talent in this film, but really Nick Frost wins this category on his own.
SETTING
A cabin set deep in the Tennessee woods. The perfect setting for a story of demons attacking in the night with no way to escape.
North London. Suburban enough for houses and backyards with enough of an urban feel to allow for bars, city streets, and plenty of undead citizens.
COMEDY
EVIL DEAD II has some hilarious moments, but the focus here is more on making a fun movie than a funny movie.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD is full of laugh out loud moments and subtler jokes that hit you the second and third time around. The Pegg/Frost combo is hard to beat.
THE DEAD
The evil dead. The things that were and shall be again. Demons from another dimension who can take the form of humans, appliances, trees, and unholy monsters- and can't be killed simply by removing the head or destroying the brain.
Zombies. Just regular zombies.

(Whoops; don't use the Z word!)
WEAPONS
Sawed-off Remington shotgun, axe, shovel, Kandarian dagger, CHAINSAW ATTACHED AT THE WRIST.
Cricket bat, shovel, Shaun's record collection, ash tray, playset chair, tetherball pole, darts, pool cues, fire extinguisher, putter, Winchester rifle, David's leg.

Okay, okay, I'm not saying anything above is equivalent to the almighty chainsaw, BUT it's a consistent usage of found objects throughout, while the chainsaw-for-a-hand/boomstick combo only makes an appearance in the final fifteen minutes of EVIL DEAD II. If we were talking ARMY OF DARKNESS, it'd be a totally different story.
QUOTES
"There's something out there. That... that witch in the cellar is only part of it. It lives... out in those woods, in the dark... something... something that's come back from the dead."

"Groovy."

"We are the things that were and shall be again! Spirits of the book! We want what is yours! Life! Dead by dawn! Dead by dawn!"

"Let's head on down into that cellar and carve ourselves a witch."

"Let's go."

"You bastards... you dirty bastards!"

"Swallow this."

"You did it, kid."
"As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no I in team, but there is an I in pie. And there's an I in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team... I don't know what he's talking about."

"Ooh, he's got an arm off!" "Get him!"

"We're coming to get you, Barbara!"

"I'm sorry, Shaun."

"Your mum rang about you going around tomorrow night, and then Liz rang about the two of you eating out tonight, and then your mum rang back to see if I wanted to eat her out tonight."

"Don't forget to kill Philip!"

"F*CK-A-DOODLE-DO!"

"You've got red on you."
ACCOLADES
IMDB: 7.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% (Audience Score: 89%)
Metacritic: 69 (User Score: 8.6)
IMDB: 8.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (Audience Score: 93%)
Metacritic: 76 (User Score: 8.6)
TIEBREAKER
EVIL DEAD II is considered a sequel to THE EVIL DEAD by some and a spoof of its predecessor by others. It seems like, if the film was a sequel, it shouldn't have rehashed so much from the first film, and if it was a spoof, it should have felt, well, spoofier. Some people call it a remake, too, but that's just silly.
For being a comedy, SHAUN OF THE DEAD is actually better than most zombie films out there. The slow build of the outbreak, the relationships, and the scene where Shaun has to shoot his own mother are more gripping and real than plenty of run of the mill zombie films full of two dimensional characters and ridiculous logic.
SHAUN OF THE DEAD
Certainly, these are very different films, and the two can coexist without too much butting of heads, but SHAUN OF THE DEAD works more as a well-rounded film, where EVIL DEAD II plays more like one long, gory, insanely entertaining scene. I will say the EVIL DEAD trilogy improved along the way, where the Three Flavors Cornetto trilogy got a little less satisfying with each film (still plenty of love for HOT FUZZ and THE WORLD'S END, though). Hopefully, Ash vs. Evil Dead brings the same laughs as the EVIL DEAD franchise along with some present day special effects and a bit more story to sink our teeth into. Are you excited for the new show? What's your favorite horror comedy? Oh, and in case you haven't seen EVIL DEAD II yet:



Agree? Disagree? Which do you prefer?
POST YOUR CHOICE BELOW!

If you have a suggestion for a future Face-Off, let us know below or send me an email at brianbitner@joblo.com.

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