Review: Evil Dead II / Cert: 15 / Director: Sam Raimi / Screenplay: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel / Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Benny, Dan Hicks / Release Date: April 15th
Genre legends Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and friends follow up one of the greatest horror movies of all time with one of the greatest sequels of all time. Not bad for a motley gang of budget filmmakers and their grotty little cabin in the woods.
Remake and sequel all at once, Evil Dead II brings Bruce Campbell's Ash back to the cabin, where he hopes to spend a romantic few days with lovely girlfriend Linda. Where this leaves the events of the first movie and its characters is unclear, but that madness and devil-may-care attitude to convention is all part of the film's charm. Ash being possessed by the force in the woods and smashed face-first into a tree is where Evil Dead II begins. The lone survivor of a brutal massacre (or is he? Were Shelly, Cheryl and Scott ever there in the first place?), Ash's attempts to escape the woods are thwarted when his dead girlfriend and the lurking demons come back at him for round two.
The humour of the first Evil Dead is brought to the fore for this sequel, which uses an increased budget to unleash its creators' love of slapstick and extreme violence to torment poor Bruce Campbell and Ash. Forced to spend extended periods of time by himself, Ash is transformed from horror movie stooge to genuine hero and icon. The Evil Dead may be one of the most gruelling horror movies of all time, but Evil Dead II is where Ash becomes the Ashley J. Williams that we all know and love.
Chainsaw strapped to the stump where his hand used to be, and armed with a fistful of boomstick, one time store clerk Ash battles the insidious forces of the Necronomicon, his own demonic possession and much more. New characters are also introduced in the form of some investigating kids (“Bobby Joe!”), but this is always Bruce Campbell's movie (although Ted Raimi is very memorable as big bad Henrietta). A scene in which Ash brutally beats himself to a pulp is one of the finest, most entertaining fight sequences of all time. Not bad for a one man fight scene. If anything is sacrificed in the shift from extreme horror to horror comedy, it's certainly not entertainment value. Evil Dead II stands tall with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 as one of the best sequels on the market.
With the film having aged very well anyway, Evil Dead II has never looked better than in this glorious Blu-ray transfer. Accompanied by a host of documentaries and featurettes, it's a worthy addition to any horror fan's collection (although the rubber Necronomicon editions remain king). Even the main menu is bloody beautiful. Well, as beautiful as a disembodied hand can get, anyway.
Groovy. Very groovy indeed.
Extras: "Swallowed Souls" - 90 min making of documentary / "Dead by Dawn" - the creation of "Evil Dead II" / "The Chosen One" - Bruce Campbell looks back / "Madman Sam" - cast and crew reflect on working with the director / "Dead Effects" / "Re-animated" / 5 other featurettes / Stills gallery / Audio commentary with Raimi, Campbell and others