Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987, USA)

               Evil Dead 2 is one of the rare sequels that eclipses its predecessor at all levels. After the miserable failure of his feature Crimewave in 1985, Sam Raimi returned to the drawing table. Raimi got the greenlight for Evil Dead 2 via the help of Stephen King, who had been working on his own feature debut – Maximum Overdrive. King, who was deeply impressed with Raimi’s debut, recommended the young director to legendary producer Dino DeLaurentiis. DeLaurentiis greenlit the film, and the result was essentially a higher-budget, higher-talent remake of the original Evil Dead.

               While Evil Dead 2 doesn’t particularly improve on the original Evil Dead at the level of plot, it does introduce Ash this time as a fully realized character. The wisecracking Ash who has come to be a cultural icon was launched in this film. The character is played by actor Bruce Campbell with a manic intensity that has rarely been rivaled. It is remarkable that Campbell didn’t become a bigger star after this film, but his style of acting would have been better suited to the silent screen.

               Evil Dead 2 departs largely from the true horror of the first film, instead presenting more of a slapstick comedy that is infused with truly horrific moments. The film starts at 11 and hardly lets go for the entire 90 or so minutes. While the film is indeed gory, Raimi is much less interested in making a gory film per se as using the gore as a prop. The film owes a great deal to the Three Stooges and Looney Tunes. There are comic routines in the film which are truly hilarious. My particular favorite is the section of the film where Ash’s hand becomes possessed and takes on a life of its own. Evil Dead 2 stands as the best film Sam Raimi has ever made.

8/10

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