Evil Dead II (1987) Review

So I’ve finally watched Evil Dead II and holy fuck, what a movie. Sorry, I’m still collecting my thoughts after finishing that movie, it’s such a ride. Evil Dead II is a 1987 horror comedy written and directed by Sam Raimi, and stars a returning Bruce Campbell as Ashley J Williams, Sarah Berry as Annie Knobby, Dan Hicks as Jake, Kassie Wesley DePaiva as Bobby Joe, Ted Raimi as Possessed Henrietta, and Denise Bixler. This movie is a reboot/retcon of the first movie, due to movie rights issues from the original movie. Evil Dead II catches us up with Ash after the “first” movie where he is continuing to be assaulted and tortured by the demons, now named deadites. We are also introduced to a new group of characters lead by the daughter of the archeologist who owned and lived in the cabin. Shit hits the fan when Ash meets the new group and the deadites come to play. 

The plot line of this movie worked for me. It tries to keep some similarities with the first movie, but it also works to set up things that will be used down the line in the franchise. It works to set up more of the lore and mythology of the deadites, while directly leading to its sequel. The one thing about the story and plot line is that it takes a little long to get going with the full group, and spends a lot of time in the first act showing Ash being tortured. I get why they did it this way, as it allows us to see more of what Ash is going through since a lot of the first movie was retconned in the opening recap. That’s one thing I would change about this, is that I would add more to the recap about the rest of the friend group from the first movie vs just having linda. To me it helped to show Ash’s determination and toughness that he’s still going strong, even after losing his girlfriend, sister and his friends. I guess it helps to view this as a different timeline version of events as a lot is different between the movies. 

This movie is a pretty big departure from the first movie, the first one was more serious in tone and in the things that happen. Whereas here the movie is more comical, especially in the scenes where the deadites are messing with Ash. The comedy doesn’t  take a way from the movie for me, it adds to it’s charm and works with the over-the-top nature they’re going for with this movie. The movie also has a much bigger budget than the first one does, and it uses it well. The sets, the effects, the blood all of it is at another level compared to the first. This one also has more thought behind it as well as you can tell they know where they want to go with it in the future. This was a movie made with a sequel in mind, but even if it didn’t get a sequel there’s enough established here to be a satisfying conclusion to the story. Whereas with the first movie, other than the ending scare, it feels like a complete story with the book being destroyed and the deadites defeated. 

Another big difference between are the characters and performances. Bruce Campbell goes full balls to the wall with his Performance as Ash. He has a lot more to work with in this movie since he basically gets to play 4 versions of Ash. He gets to be normal, losing his mind crazy, possessed hand, and full possession. I think it comes through how much fun he had on this movie. He’s a lot more experienced and confident this time around, he doesn’t have a timid voice anymore and gets to be more badass and heroic. This also comes through in his characterization, he’s more of a ladies man, he cracks one-liners, more no-nonsense after his experiences the cabin, and seems like a more traditional action hero. This version of Ash also makes great use of Bruce Campbell’s physical comedic talents and timing. I know he roughed up in the first movie, but the bigger budget allowed for likely better safety protocols to rough him up again. He takes a beating in the first half of this movie. 

The rest of the characters are pretty  good and interesting. Probably the best new character is Annie, as she has the most to do outside of Ash. She is the most related to the story and plot of the movie. Her performance is great as well. Everyone else does a great job with what they’re given. Its interesting though how many characters in this movie are done in because of people’s choices vs the first movie. Though I like the dynamic of the group more in the first one than I do here. Where this group shines is that the actors feel more experienced, or at least are given better direction when compared to the first movie. Which makes sense though as he had more experience by this point, as well as working with more experienced producers. 

Everything technical about this movie is incredible. It’s visually stunning and interesting and makes great use of all kinds of special effect tricks. The gore is more over-the-top and surreal, and not as gritty as the first movie. It’s not as brutal as the first movie as well, but makes up for it in just the sheer amount of blood that is sprayed in this movie. The music is great as well, just as good as the first one. One thing that’s not really technical is that this movie uses a lot more jumpscares than the first movie did. It’s not a knock against the movie as I feel like they’re used to help balance out the more comedic elements and moments. 

Over-all Evil Dead II is an incredible movie. Filled with scares, gore, fun, and some incredible one-liners. For those that haven’t watched it yet it is well worth the watch. Two-Thumbs up for me !!

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