on 13 December 2002
It's perhaps easy to forget in this era of post-modern cinematic irony, that there was a time not so long ago when all you needed to make a horror movie was style, wit, vision, an unrelenting determination to create the most enjoyable experience possible, and about 500 gallons of stage blood. After their low budget success with Evil Dead which we all rushed to see before it got banned back in the early eighties, Raimi, Tapert, Campbell et al, fuelled by some extra cash from Dino De Laurentiis, managed to put together one of the best made, energetically crafted, stupid-but-fun films of all time. Now nearly fifteen years old, time had diminished its vitality not a jot. And now its available in all its uncut glory on DVD. The commentary from Raimi, Campbell, Scott Spiegel and Greg Nicotero is frequently very amusing, points out several things I had never noticed before (but now I'll never be able to ignore them), and is a more than pleasant way to while away 80 minutes. Also included is a 'Making of' featurette which lasts about 30 minutes and deals with little more than how various special effects were achieved. Where this extra comes into its own, however, is in the tiny additional film made by the special effects boys in their lunch hour. 'Evil Dead Baby', tacked onto the end of the documentary, is a tiny hilarious take on ReAnimator and well worth fast forwarding to the end of the featurette for.
on 28 January 2013
One of the greatest horror films ever. Evil Dead 2 actually seems more like a remake of the first as we see Ash played by Bruce Campbell, going to the cabin with his girlfriend this time without his friends, and having survived his hellish night of battling the evil dead. Ah, morning's here, time to escape. Wrong! Just as Ash is preparing to leave, the last remaining demonic spirits rocket him through the woods in a very comical scene. Crashing into a tree, Ash regains consciousness only to be possessed by the evil dead, but eventually the morning light chases these spirits away, sparing our hero.
Ash then falls unconscious, only to awake as dusk is setting in. . . . ROUND 2. During the ensuing night, Ash battles his dead girlfriend, his own hand (which he lops off with a chainsaw), and more evil dead than you can shake a shotgun at. They are looking for fresh souls. Who can stop these evil demonic creatures? I won't tell--but as you can see, there is a sequel.
Remake, sequel, or both? I would definitely say sequel. There are two reasons why Raimi filmed the flashback sequence the way he did. First, to bring those unfortunate who didn't see "Evil Dead" up to speed and second, because he couldn't get the footage from New Line. Evil Dead 2 is no doubt one of the greatest horror films ever made, following a great low budget cult classic horror film. The sequel improves on everything including the great special fx, lots of blood and over the top gore which was done in a slapstick almost 3 stooges style of humor, as we now have a much bigger budget.
Oh and watch out for the hilarious "A Farewell to Arms" joke. The same dark atmosphere was much improved upon and Raimi shows us some great camera work, a style that influenced several other filmmakers like Peter Jackson who did Braindead/Dead Alive. If you're wondering if Evil Dead II looks better on Blu-ray, the short answer is yes, if only a little. The BD'S improvement was only marginal. The Blu-ray has less image noise and slightly more depth due to more accurate black levels. The colours are a little more vibrant here than before and there's also more detail in the image, mostly noticeable in better lit scenes.
A choice of either Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS HD Master Audio. At least the sound gets a decent lift. There's also a 32 minute making of titled 'The Gore the Merrier' which deals with the makeup and effects. It includes interviews with the guys from K.N.B. EFX Group plus on-set footage of the cast and crew. It's basically the same featurette from the previous Anchor Bay region 2 dvd, nothing new here unfortunately. Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn is a true horror masterpiece. A completely original concept, some screwy camera angles, and one Bruce Campbell make for an entertaining combination. If you don't like it, "I'll swallow your soul, I'll swallow your soul."
Although this is the second film in the trilogy, it doesn't matter if you haven't seen the first one. Within the first few moments of Evil Dead 2 there is a prologue detailing the existence of the book of the dead before a recorded incantation is played and something evil is released. The ensuing carnage ruins a romantic retreat when Ash's girlfriend is killed.
The first few minutes act as a retelling of the first film - although a version where two other characters are ignored, and then the story continues with Ash waking up after a collision with a tree with the prospect of spending another night in a secluded lodge. The first film had some moments of dark humour but it was above all a horror film, but with Evil Dead II it's soon made clear that this is an all-out comedy when we see the dead Linda dancing during a brilliant stop motion sequence, followed by fantastic slapstick action involving both parts of his undead girlfriend.
Bruce Campbell became a cult icon through his very physical performance, watching him get beaten up by his own possessed hand brings to mind the sort of display Jim Carrey would make famous in the nineties. Bruce deservedly gained his iconic status here, there's a lot on his shoulders - in many scenes he is the only live actor but he has such strong presence that you can't help but share in the fun he is obviously having on screen. It's not easy to give a convincing performance when you're fighting zombies, but Campbell comes across as a regular guy you can empathise with.
I'm not a massive horror fan, but I love this film. It's a genuinely funny film which survives repeat viewings well and has earned it's place in cult cinema history. Sam Raimi obviously had a much bigger budget for Evil Dead II but he doesn't let that stop him from squeezing every last drop of creativity from each scene. As before the pace is fast and the movie looks like a group of mates had got together to create fan-fiction and have a bit of fun with a camera. It's clear though that a lot of effort has gone into every moment of the film. The slapstick comedy is executed perfectly, the gore is gloriously over-the-top, and Bruce lives up to the best line of the film; "Groovy!"
Evil Dead was a masterclass in how to use well established filming techniques and take them to the next level, it looked a bit amateurish but it was technically brilliant. Many of those methods are employed here too and it's clear that Raimi is a man of vision. Evil Dead two is less darkly lit than the first so you can see much more of what's happening, the visual aspect has been worked on and every trick is used - from puppetry to stop motion. The result is a film which never once becomes boring and always maintains your interest.
This Blu-Ray transfer isn't the most impressive, scratches and specks on the screen appear now-and-then, and the picture is often soft with areas of artificial sharpening to try and make it look cleaner. This is no doubt due to the source material and it's probably the best we can expect. However, having watched this many times on VHS and DVD I can say that this is the finest looking that I've seen the film. For a fairly low budget '80s movie (though not as low as the first one!) you don't expect awesome picture quality, that's all part of the charm. But on this Blu-Ray transfer there's more detail visible than before, and the darker scenes (there's plenty of them) don't suffer as much from smudgy rendering like they did on DVD. Previous DVD releases have had various bonus features. Although the American release is meant to contain everything ever bundled with the film in previous versions, this is pretty sparse. I've not listened to the commentary track on this Blu-Ray but it's the same one on the DVD release I own, and it's a great commentary full of interesting technical aspects (thanks to Sam Rami and head of make-up Greg Nicotero), and with both Bruce Campbell and script writer Scott Spiegel there's a definite sense that the guys are enjoying watching their classic, it's as entertaining as the film itself. A half hour long documentary on the visual aspect of the film appears on this disk too, but again it's recycled from the old DVD. It's a solid feature though, even if it has aged slightly. If you're hoping to upgrade to Blu-Ray in order to collect all the previous bonus features then it's not going to happen. Personally I'm happy with what's on here but I know that some may be disappointed.
In a nutshell: Although there is a loose continuation from Evil Dead, this sequel isn't really a sequel - it feels more like the first film in a series of two rather than the second of a trilogy. It takes the foundations from the first film and repackages it with a shift of focus. Instead of including just a bit of comedy - the film concentrates on delivering laugh after laugh. This makes Evil Dead much less scary, but far more entertaining. It's not often that the word "genius" is aptly used when describing a film - but here it is justified. Spattering blood, severed limbs, and relatives who refuse to stay dead have never been so funny!
on 25 May 2009
After the low budget success (and notoriety) of The Evil Dead, director Sam Raimi revisited the same story of evil spirits terrorising a group of visitors in a log cabin with a bit more cash, the same hut in the woods, and the same main star (Bruce Campbell). What he came up with essentially has the same plot as the original (there is some debate as to whether this is a remake or a sequel) with better effects, some nice twists and a different ending. Where the Evil Dead was essentially a very harrowing horror, Evil Dead II mixes perfectly the elements of tense horror with comedy, bordering on slapstick.
It is a much more polished film than the Evil Dead, building nicely on the ideas in that film such as the kinetic camera-work and using them to better effect. Improved too is the performance of Bruce Campbell as hero Ash. His character is stronger and more assured, with bags more attitude and aided by some cracking one-liners, he puts in an animated and staggeringly energetic performance, spending more than half an hour of screen time alone as he battles the tormenting evil spirits and also to keep his own sanity.
Evil Dead II is a rarity in horror cinema, a film that manages to be both intentionally laugh-out-loud funny and scary at the same time. The tension makes the laughter short-lived and a little nervous. Plenty have attempted this difficult feat of mixing horror with comedy and the majority have failed such that here are really only a handfull of horror comedies that are also genuinely excellent films.
This is undoubtedly one of the best horror films ever made. Shocking, inventive, fast-paced, frenetic and wonderfully entertaining from start to finish.
on 30 July 2004
I first watched this movie back in 1998 along with the film "Spaceballs", This would have made me the age of 10, although I missed the first 20 minutes I got into the film straight away, it was great, it's sheer randomness mixed with spookiness from the "Spiderman" Director Sam Raimi was an instant success for me.
So I waited a year for it to be shown on Sky (The Old Channels that show oldish movies) and I took the opportunity to tape it, again I was amazed by the sheer enjoyment of the film which must have given it's fair bit of inspiration to other horror/action film writers.
Built with the style of Arnie's one Liners, Bruce Campbell pulls off Ash again with a Chainsaw weilded to his hand and his "Boomstick" fighting the hordes of evil that live in the basement, sure the film may have alot of Cherryade in but i'd buy it because it's a great movie.
If you want to be scared and entertained at the same time, here's the Book of the dead for you!
on 2 January 2007
Ignore E. F. Hanson's review, for starters the star doesn't go back to the cabin, he never left, the opening scenes are re-shoots/recap of the first to explain why he's there - they couldn't get the footage rights to the first, any Evil Dead fan knows that! - and it's not a remake, same situation but different characters and scenes, most notably the hand, Ash getting his chainsaw and the comedy elements are much higher. It's slightly slicker rather than sicker than the first, but the two do go together as one film detailing two nights at the cabin. Army of Darkness explains where the demons came from and why they're bound to the book. There isn't much else different about this release thou, other than the cool cover, which is a marketing gimick, but a cool one along with the book of the dead original. Buy 'em!
on 9 April 2005
If you are looking for a fright filled scare fest that will give you sleepless nights for the better part of the year... go buy The Exorsist.
If you want a slightly gorey, gag-fest with the most Bad-ass of Bad-asses Buy EvilDead II (Dead By Dawn).
I first saw this film on a pirated VHS (I know, please forgive me) when I was 9... needless to say I fell in love with it, now at the age of 23 I can honestly say that this is a "MUST HAVE" for any fans of the horror/comedy genre.
If the word's "Groovy", "Boomstick" or "Workshead" mean nothing to you (admitadly, you'll have to be kind of a die-hard fan to understand the importance of that last word)... then you need to buy this movie now.
So butter up that pop-corn, get a few beers, call all your friends and "Hail to the King, Baby"
on 3 February 2013
There is a special kind of charm to the special effects in this perennial classic: you can tell just how much creativity went into creating the scenario - and even if many of those effects are clearly dated and nowhere near as realistic as the CGI we are used to these days, they communicate an atmosphere and honesty that's missing in many (if not most) contemporary productions.
on 22 April 2013
Lets clear something up to begin with.. This is definitely a sequel to The Evil Dead (1981) and not a remake. There are many miss-conceptions about this. The initial opening 5-10 is in fact a recap. Due to copy right reasons Sam Raimi et al were unable to use footage from the original movie, so instead they remade elements of the original film which would be relevant to Evil Dead 2. However, due to the way the movie us edited, it does give an impression of a remake. Anyway..
I purchased this movie on Blue-Ray (after owning all three movies on VHS and DVD previously) and the first thing I noticed was that it is no longer classed as an 18 certificate. I was concerned that the Blue-Ray edition may been heavily edited. Rest assured, this is not the case. The film appears in all its gory glory ( I guess it isn't considered as nasty as it once was). While still being violent and bloody like the original, the action is more comical. But throw in the numerous one liners, and you're in for an enjoyable ride. Criticisms about the film itself; While I do love this movie, it does start to lose steam after about 45mins in. The middle is dragged out a bit, but its worth it once you get to the epic show down against the "The Witch" in cellar. As for the Blue-Ray and extras; I was hoping for more. The HD isn't really noticeable. There is no more picture clarity than you get on the DVD version and there are no additional extras to what you get on the DVD either. I was really hoping for at least some deleted scenes (I know there are many out there on the internet, go ahead, have a search), but alas, nothing. But to round up, it's still a top film. After all, it stars Bruce Campbell.
But he isn't. Ash (Bruce campbell) has survived [sort of...] the first movie (Evil Dead)and virtually re-lives the entire first film all over again. New stuff this generally isn't, it's more a reworking of the old script. The opening shots do 'flesh out' things that were not explained in the first film and attempt to give a very rough summary of the first movie plot, but alters it quite a bit (but you don't need to see the first film to appreciate this one). We learn more about the Necronomicon, the 'Book of the Dead' and extra information on the 'evil', but otherwise it soon enters into the main story, which is basically the same.
The flaws in the movie are numerous, the script obvious, but that merely adds to the pulp schlock horror feel that means it doesn't exactly take itself seriously, and neither should you. And even calling it a horror seems wrong as I simply couldn't stop laughing -despite the gore, zombies, possessions etc. Much of this was down to the acting style and expressions on the actors faces, and one scene in particular has them all staring wide eyed as they follow the strange sounds moving around the building -it rivals a similar wide eyed scene with Humphrey Bogart in the African Queen for laughs.
This film builds on the slapstick humour of the first, but makes it much more humourous. I doubt many can watch this without raising a wry smile now and again, but be warned, it's not all fun and games. The violence and gore may be over the top, but it's also extreme and not to everyones taste. Some of the special effects may be badly executed from a modern' standpoint, but to me, it's all part of the 'feel' of the movie.
So lighten up and brace yourself for a horror film that may prove to be more laughs than you expect, whether they be intentionally included or not. This is definately one to watch if you don't mind the low budget style movies, and this has to be amongst the greatest of them, along with Army of Darkness, the final part of the trilogy.