Evil Dead II (Anchor Bay Edition) (1987) Review
Written by: azathoth
This is my favorite movie along with the original "Evil Dead". I like them equally but for different reasons, which I will discuss later. There has been a remarkable amount of debate as to whether ED2 is a sequel or a remake of ED1. Being the useful fellows that they are, both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have at different times stated both. My opinion is that they are not really even sure themselves, and it does not make any difference anyway.
The film was directed by Sam Raimi ("Evil Dead" series, "Spiderman" series). The cast is small with Bruce Campbell ("Maniac Cop" 1 and 2, "From Dusk till Dawn 2") playing our 'hero' Ash and Denise Bixler playing his girlfriend Linda. Later on Kassie DePaiva (16 years of "One Life to Live") shows up as local Bobbie Joe with her boyfriend Jake. They are escorting Annie and her boyfriend Ed to Annie's dad's cabin, which just happens to be the same cabin that Ash is holed up in. The only other character is Possessed Henrietta played by a rubber suited Ted Raimi (brother of Sam, "The Grudge", "The Attic Expeditions").
First there is nice introduction about the "Book of the Dead". Bound in human flesh, inked in blood, supposedly lost. Now on to the movie proper. The overall plot is straightforward. Ash and Linda go to a very secluded cabin to get away. Annie's dad was an archeologist who specialized in some obscure occult areas. Ash plays some tape recorded notes and the couple gets attacked by Kandarian demons. Linda gets possessed and Ash goes a bit stir crazy. Later on the other four characters show up. Seeing that her parents are not around and there is a good bit of blood splattered in the cabin, Annie makes the understandable buy incorrect assumption that Ash killed her folks.
Soon more demons start attacking, and to prevent their deaths or being possessed, they must find the "Book of the Dead", which the professor found on a recent dig, and read the banishment spell. There is a lot of mayhem going on throughout the film. For some details on the mayhem read the SPOILERS section.
The biggest difference between ED2 and ED1 is the amount of humor. While still violent and ultra gory, there is a lot of humor also going on in ED2, often of the slapstick variety. This is the reason I like both films, but for the different reasons. ED1 is more scary, ED2 has a lot of humor.
The film print in this edition is good. There is not a lot of background music, but there are plenty of audio FX, which have varying sound levels but all are within acceptable range. The visual FX range from OK to great to over-the-top 'wow'. The acting is great for this movie. Probably the best aspect of the film is the cinematography. There are the famous 'Raimi POV' shots, a classic 'spinning Ash' scene, and many other great shots. There are no real lulls in the action; exposition takes just as long as it needs to.
Go buy it. Now. Great for parties.
*** SPOILERS ***
I will be running through the film to hit some highlights, as well as throw in some bits from the commentary from the DVD.
To begin with, I have some questions. How does Ash know this out-of-the-way place is here? Did he just break in since Annie knows nothing about him being at the cabin? Unless he is going back to the cabin from the original movie, in which case he is really stupid or just insane. Anyway, it takes about five minutes before Linda is abducted and possessed.
Eventually Ash chops off Possessed Linda's head with a shovel and buries her. Ash then gets attacked by a POV shot where he starts spinning like one of those spin-the-wheel games at the county fair down the road till he hits a tree and gets knocked out. He wakes up possessed but it goes away when the sun comes up. He tries to drive away in 'The Classic' but the bridge has been torn up. He's chased back to the cabin, where he outruns the POV demon through a labyrinth of corridors that would take the size of a movie star's house to hold.
We now interlude to Annie and Ed arriving at an airport. Notice the guy trying to get the second airplane door open, and failing. That's producer Rob Tapert, long time friend and collaborator with Bruce and the Raimis.
Linda's corpse rises and does a nice ballet dance for Ash before she clamps her teeth on his hand (plot point!). To get the head off Ash goes to the "work shed" and clamps the head in a vice and gets attacked by a chainsaw wielded by the headless body. He gets around to dicing the remains of Linda to little pieces. This is only 20 minutes into the movie.
Next up is another infamous scene. (The Ash from the mirror is actually another actor they found locally, not a double exposure of Campbell.) Ash's hand is now possessed and proceeds to beat him up. Ash cuts it off with the chainsaw while yelling "who's laughing now!" Unfortunately, this doesn't help much since the hand runs around give Ash the finger until it gets snapped by a mouse trap. Then all the furniture in the room starts dancing and laughing at Ash.
The other four characters show up and beat up Ash for seemingly killing Annie's parents. Neat bit of info- the one bit the UK version had to cut out was Ash getting kicked in the head after he was unconscious. As Campbell says "In England, you can't kick a man while he's down".
Things get a bit more serious now. Possessed Henrietta is found in the basement. Bobbie Joe swallows a flying eyeball, Ed gets possessed (Evil Ed), Evil Ed eats some hair. A while later Bobbie Joe runs from the cabin and gets killed by the forest. After a great scene where Ash attaches the chainsaw to his arm stump and utters the line "Groovy",and some more wackiness Ash finally reads the passages from the "Book of the Dead" to send the demons back from where they came from. A black hole like portal opens up, sucking everything, including Ash through it. Ash and his car end up in medieval England surrounded by knights. He shoots a winged demon and the knights hail him as their savior.
The end. Seriously. Were you expecting something that made sense?
*** SPOILERS ***