Evil Dead II, 1987
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks and Kassie Wesley
Ash, the sole survivor of the previous film, returns to contend with the evil spirits summoned from the cursed Necronomicon, the book of the dead. Joined by those present at the book’s original discovery and others, Ash and his new allies struggle to find a way to banish the evil forever before it destroys them in all manner of horrific ways.
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell take us back to that ghostly cabin in the woods for another slice of gore-drenched horror, inadvertently creating one of the greatest sequels ever made, and one of my favourite horror films of all time. I am of course referring to Evil Dead II
If one were to watch the first two instalments of this series back to back, they would be struck by the sudden tonal shift between instalments. Whereas the first was very much a straight up horror film played seriously with genuine sincerity, the sequel is much more akin to a twisted Laurel and Hardy film, with gory slapstick and a much greater emphasis on comedy.
Bruce Campbell delivers arguably his finest performance of all his appearances as the Ash character. The character is allowed to go through something of an arc, beginning as a meek, terrified everyman, before the horrors he endures ultimately transform him into to a chainsaw wielding, gun toting, one-liner spewing action hero. All stages of which are brilliantly portrayed by Campbell, who also uses the performance to showcase his hilarious slapstick comedy skills, especially when he batters the ever loving shit out of himself.
The gore, while somewhat toned down, is still here in bucket loads. We have blood gushing like a hydrant from the walls, dancing naked zombies that roll their heads around like a bowling ball, eyes popping out of skulls and a hero chopping his own possess hand off with a chainsaw. However, unlike the first film, in which the gore is made for scares, here the gore is very much played for laughs. With Ash tumbling around as he’s is hit full force by a blood hydrant, or our hillbilly sidekicks is gruesomely torn apart and yet his overalls somehow remain intact
The film, while more comedic than its predecessor, is still very much a horror though and some parts are equal parts hilarious and bloody terrifying, particularly, when everything in the cabin starts to laugh at Ash. With the chorus being started by a freaky looking deer head, with a nightmare inducing cackle to boot, the unease and scariness of the scene only being broken by Ash’s own manic laughter, which I can’t help but crack up at every time I see it.
Evil Dead II is without question the best of the series, managing to perfectly blend the screams and the laughs in all the right places. Campbell gives us his best performance as his signature role, allowing the heroic aspects to gradually develop over the film’s runtime, making his eventual heroic transformation all the grander.
The greater emphasis on humour is also a welcome addition, allowing Campbell to showcase his comedic prowess and letting Raimi play fast and loose with the blood and gore, with most of the slapstick routines being brutal and bloody, yet always remaining funny, even with gallons of blood being sprayed across the screen.
Bloody and brilliant, Evil Dead II is easily one of the greatest sequels of all time, and also one of the greatest horror films of all time.
Check it out or I’ll swallow your soul.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★