Review: Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Well, hello there, in the new year! 2016. And it’s high past time to get the ball back rolling on this blog, so let’s start it out with a bang, so we can fade out with a whimper as this year closes. I kid, I kid. To begin this year’s slate, I decided to check out a camp classic and sequel to the film included in this blog’s last experiment, Grab Bag, way back in early December. So, like 3 posts ago. Whoops.

Anyways, we’re here today to check out Evil Dead 2, known in some circles as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, though that’s such a terrible subtitle that it’s left off of the Blu-ray cover and even the film’s title card. So for the rest of this review, I’ll be completely ignoring this subtitle. Okay? Okay.

Boy, did this film surprise me. I’m not even joking here, after viewing the first Evil Dead,  I hardly expected such a drastic leap in quality between films. It’s seriously insane. Not only does the production value increase by an insane degree, but the genre shifts completely, as does the tone. Make no mistake, Evil Dead 2’s primary goal is to make you laugh, not to shiver your timbers. The comedy in this horror-comedy far, far exceeds the horror, both in quality and in quantity. Sam Raimi’s mastery of old-style slapstick a la The Three Stooges or Looney Tunes is a sight to behold, adapting cartoonish violence to life in a good way, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, not in a terrible way, like Baby’s Day Out.

babys_day_out_poster
Written by John Hughes. I kid you not.

The flair with which Raimi’s hand pulls us into the picture is breathtaking, bringing not just the audience, but the cast fully along on the ride. Bruce Campbell fully commits to the redefined role of Ash Williams bringing a campy energy that’s a joy to behold. The rest of the cast does not disappoint, though they are far overshadowed by the glory that is Campbell. Campbell fully embodies the B-movie spirit that Evil Dead 2 seeks to emulate, with an artistic merit that prevents it from feeling derivative, instead creating its own, iconic atmosphere.

And the iconography of Evil Dead 2 is a beautiful sight, from the gleeful gore of the Deadites to the ludicrously badass chainsaw arm to the sly, knowing look on a transformed Ash’s face as he spouts that epic line.

giphy

While the knowing winks and nods of the film to the audience let us know they’re not taking it seriously either, they don’t detract from the film, or become chafing or irritating. The film is laughing with you, not at you. Think the playful silliness of a latter Fast & Furious film vs the cynical excess of a Michael Bay production.

The cheesy special effects do not hold up, at all, but this adds to the film’s overall campiness. If there’s one thing I will always love, it’s a stop-motion effect integrated into a live-action film, and Evil Dead 2 delivers with a dancing corpse.

evildead2dance
Seriously, why don’t films use this effect more? It’s so much fun!

Evil Dead 2 isn’t for everyone. For those who cannot stand B-movie silliness or camp, I could hardly recommend a watch. It’s humor is broad, usually sticking to good old-fashioned slapstick violence and Bruce Campbell’s phenomenal comic timing. Where your tolerance for silliness falls will determine your enjoyment of the film.

But, personally, these thrills cannot be beaten. Evil Dead 2 is among the best of 80’s camp, a rolicking good time, and a solid A+.

a plus grade


So, how’ve you been? Did you miss me? Did you curse to the skies when you saw my new post? Did you pull one of these?

Seriously, though, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to more postings. Thank you so much for reading my ramblings, and I’ll see you next time. Bye!


 

 

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