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When the bridge is destroyed by demonic forces, Ash finds himself stranded in the region of the cabin wherein he had only recently barely survived an attack by forces from another dimension. Strangely, he is visited by a woman and her colleague who are searching for a missing professor - the woman’s father. Along with his girlfriend, Linda, Ash and the others play back the professor’s tape recorder reciting passages from the Book of the Dead, and inadvertently calls up evil forces. Linda is taken over by a Deadite, which is just the beginning of an overnight onslaught from the demonic dead. Furthermore, there is the animated corpse of the professor’s wife in the cellar to contend with. Can Ash survive the attack until morning? Especially as he has been possessed himself and become Evil Ash. The possible answer lies with the surviving pages of the Book of the Dead. But the demonic force is making itself manifest...
I’ve seen Evil Dead II at least two or three times before, and let me tell you it has never looked better than it does now on Blu-ray. This is one of only a handful of examples I can think of when the sequel exceeds the original film. The then young but determined director Sam Raimi had initially refused to make a second Evil Dead film, but when he failed to get backing for another venture he returned to what he knew. It’s just as well he did, because this film is a delight from start to finish. It is still today truly amazing just how much was achieved by a mostly young cast and crew. There were no computer generated effects; everything was done for real, using prosthetics, make-up effects, stop motion, rigs and mechanisms, and not forgetting good old fashioned stunts.
A large ingredient of what makes this movie work is the balance between dark humour and scares. It is said that Sam Raimi produced the scares, whereas writing partner Scott Spiegel injected the humour. However it originated, it’s rarely been done better in a horror film (An American Werewolf in London though was spot on). This is a crazy kind of off-kilter humour which certainly fits the situations inherent in the plot. The best example, perhaps, is the scene when Ash lowers himself on to a chair with his shotgun to begin a vigil, only to have the chair collapse under him. The deer head on the wall turns toward him and starts laughing. Then the table lamp joins in, along with the books and even the cushions on the sofa - to the point that Ash can only join in the crazy cackling himself.
The pace is incredible; events come thick and fast. From Ash’s attempted escape, through the others attacking Ash, thinking him the aggressor, to the relentless demonic onslaught. Evil Ed, Evil Ash, the dancing headless Deadite, the professor’s demonic dead wife, forest trees attacking the cabin, a possessed hand, and the evil manifest. That’s not to mention the more than weird ending through the portal.
The acting is intense, as you would expect, but you just get the sense everyone is having a wonderful time playing these parts. That is more than confirmed when watching the plethora of fantastic extra features. Special plaudits go to the great performance given by B-movie actor Bruce Campbell, which he has only bettered once in Bubba Ho-Tep. There’s so much to enjoy in Evil Dead II. It should be cherished as something truly remarkable. This is a hands-on horror movie done the old-fashioned way. Of course, Sam Raimi has since moved on to multi-million dollar Hollywood projects such as the Spider-Man trilogy, but his true heart lies with horror, as proved when he recently returned to the genre with Drag Me To Hell.
Extras include Swallowed Souls, a fascinating ninety minute look behind the scenes; Cabin Fever, a fly-on-the-wall look at events as they happened (a surprisingly huge amount of footage, including some fooling around); an Audio Commentary with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel and make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero; Road to Wadesboro (a modern day revisit to the shooting locations, including the shack); Featurettes: Behind the Screams, and The Gore the Merrier; a Theatrical Trailer, and Photo Galleries with commentary.