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 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 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."
on 13 July 2015
I recall seeing this amazing film when Palace Pictures unleashed it onto home video back in the late 1980s and I was totally blown away by its dizzying invention and splat-stick humor. Fueled by a UK wide advertising campaign backed by Jonathon Ross (Google it, its great) and director Sam Raimi, the film crossed over from humble X-rated beginnings to mainstream acceptance elevating its star Bruce Campbell to cult stardom... and rightly so.
A quasi-remake of the original movie, yet upping the ante with increased gore and high five belly laughs. Ash (a chiseled and pitch perfect Bruce Campbell) escorts his girlfriend Linda back to the cabin where the infamous possessions took place all those years ago. Within moments of their arrival, he inadvertently plays the tape recording of the previous inhabitant's recital of passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (ie: Book of the Dead) and sets in motion a series of events which culminate in Ash... well, having a very bad day. Between dancing ghouls, laughing deer heads, chainsaw dissection and crazy camera angles, the movie delivers the goods like no other. Wildly veering from graphic gore to laugh out loud comedy, it walks the tightrope between horror and humor with extreme confidence and gifts the audience with a wonderful ride that hasn't ceased to be funny or indeed, gross in the intervening years.
Director Sam Raimi (who would go on to helm the first 'Spiderman' series of the early 2000s) is truly on fire here as a visual stylist. His camera prowls and zooms all over the screen in a manner that has been duplicated time and time again but never bettered. Kudos also to the inventive make-up and effects work that combines 1980s state of the art gore with kooky stop motion that wouldn't look out of place in a Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movie. The cast also shine with their varying parts (Danny Hicks being a highlight) but its Bruce Campbell's show all the way and he holds the movie together - whether being beaten or beating the bejeezus out of undead folk, his Ash character is the poster boy for this movie and deserves every accolade. Cool, handsome and immeasurably stupid in one fowl swoop, its a testament to Campbells' commitment and talent that Ash works so well.
The blu-ray is fine, but some of the films age does start to show. This special edition sports a number of extra special features which range from okay to good. All in all, an essential purchase for horror or indeed, comedy fans alike. Highly recommended.
on 21 October 2003
When Sam Raimi made this film he created one of the funniest movies I have ever seen and he did it with a spattering of blood, guts and eyeball swallowing. Not only does this movie surpass the less funny but more intense original, it did it with a smile on it's sick little face. The story revolves around Ash (Bruce Campbell) who, having survived the first movie, has to go through it all over again. There are possesions, zombies, chainsaws, shotguns and the afore mentioned eye swallowing incident (it has to be seen!) galore in this stunning sequel.
Most of this movie will have you wetting yourself from laughter thanks mainly to it's star, an icon of the genre, Bruce Campbell. Throughout the course of this movie he changes from your average Joe into a one-liner spitting superhero thanks to the unbelievable amount of torture he has to go through. Hacking your undead girlfriend up with a chainsaw has to have severe adverse affects on your brain. There's no doubt that Ash has one of the worst days in movie history.
In conclusion, 'Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn' is an utterly stunning movie that will have you glued to your TV throughout the movie, unless you have to pause it to stop yourself from laughing that is.
on 26 October 2009
i have seen this movie maybe 18 years ago on vhs, now I bought it on bluray and this movie is still great, thats for sure. But for bluray i expect at least better picture quality than on dvd and its not there unfortunatly. In fact at some scenes you can feel like you watch it on vhs, which has been copied few times already. To be fair, most of the time, its not so bad, but digital noise reduction is killing it and its never even close to bluray standards. Whats more, almost no bonus materials, only 30 minutes making of and commentary, there is nothing else, not even subtitles. I still enjoyed watching this masterpiece after those long years and i love this motion picture, but terrible bluray execution for sure.
on 23 October 2001
The quality of my battered VHS copy of this is appalling so the crystal clear imagery of this DVD is a refreshing change.
Unfortunetly this is the major problem with the DVD, the digitally remastered footage allows the viewer to see all the monofilimate wires controlling props especially when "Henriettas" eyeball flies into "Linda's" mouth. It is also very easy to see that the cabin is a studio now, as the roof is clearly visible in many shots.
These minor details aside (as in many ways they don't really matter) the DVD is excellently put together. The commentaries are brilliant and rather than seperate Sam Raimi and Bruce Cambell onto different tracks as in the first DVD, this time they are together which makes hilarious viewing as they constantly argue and mock each other. As well as this, there is the original theatre trailer and "making of" documentry shot by the special effects team which includes there own short: "Evil Dead Baby".
All in all although the quality may spoil it for some, fans of the film will consider this an compulsary purchase.
‘Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn’ – is it a sequel? Is it a remake? The argument rages to this day. However, ultimately, who cares? It’s awesome! Well... if you like seeing grown men screaming as they’re repeatedly covered in a variety of different-coloured bodily fluids. Luckily, I do.
Ignore the original ‘Evil Dead’ (yes, it was fun – for the time – but this one’s head and shoulders over it when it comes to special effects, gore and characters). Whether Part II is a remake or sequel, it basically covers the entire of the first film in the opening ten minutes and then gathers steam from there. It is basically the original ‘cabin-in-the-woods-movie.’ So many times since we’ve seen a group of annoyingly-good looking teenagers head out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, only to meet their end at the hands of something pretty nasty. But, back in Evil Dead/Evil Dead Part II’s day – it was actually quite an original prospect – especially when it’s done as well as this.
Yes, the prospect of people being stuck in a remote location and hunted by someone out of this world isn’t that revolutionary, but it’s the way it’s done here that makes ‘Dead by Dawn’ a classic. Here the hapless humans are hunted by, not just the undead, but the ‘evil’ dead. If you’re unclear of the difference, the evil dead aren’t just your run-of-the-mill zombies, but demons who just look like zombies, but are a hundred times more powerful and are completely insane.
If the gore and general craziness of seeing a man fight his own (possessed) hand isn’t enough for you to get you to watch this, you have Bruce Campbell as the central character, Ash. After this performance the B-movie world had a new cult hero who has gone on to not just star in the sequel, but countless computer games, comics and most recently a TV show. Basically, Ash is a chump – a stupid, sexist idiot who causes more problems than he actually gets round to solving. He is definitely not your average Hollywood hero – and the film is all the better for it.
Ash makes Evil Dead. Evil Dead would just be another horror film without Ask. If you don’t believe me – look into the remake of Evil Dead that completely omitted him (and I’m not counting the ‘too-little-too-late’ cameo at the end of the film). It was rubbish. Or rather it was just another horror film. If you like your horror films, B-movies, or just wise-cracking insane heroes battling even more crazy demons, give this one a go. It’s groovy.
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 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.