Plot: What’s it about?
Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) decide to spend a relaxing weekend in a remote cabin the woods, but their weekend will be anything but relaxing! Ash finds an old tape recorder, and is curious at to what is on the tape, so he gives it listen. The content of the tape is a recording by Professor Knoby, who is reading selections from the Necronomicon, or the Book of the Dead. What Ash does not know is that the mere reciting of the passages from the recorder is enough to awaken the evil spirits in the dark forest. Linda is taken by the evil spirit, and only after a long, exhausting encounter is Ash able to finally defeat the evil within his dead love. But that’s just the beginning for Ash, as there is evil everywhere in the house, and soon a the daughter of the Professor makes her way to the cabin with a few people, and mistakes Ash for the killer of her parents! Needless to say, Ash has a very bad streak of luck, and it only gets worse as the movie goes along. Can Ash and the visitors find a way to quell the evil, return the woods to a safe place to be, and save their own lives before it overtakes them all?
Evil Dead 2 is a great horror/comedy that combines graphic violence with hearty laughs. Ash is such a likable character, and is played with mastery by Bruce Campbell (The Hudsucker Proxy), who plays Ash in all three Evil Dead films. Ash’s frequent turns into desperation are so funny to watch, as he goes from crying to laughing desperately to crying again. Ash is one of the true icons of the horror genre, and seems to get better with each film in the series. Other cast members include Denise Bixler, Sarah Berry, Richard Domeier, Theodore Raimi (Shocker, Army of Darkness), Dan Hicks (Class Action, Darkman), and Kassie Wesley. While not exactly a star studded cast, the cast does a nice job. Not Shakespeare or anything, but good for this style of film. But really, Evil Dead 2 is a one man movie, with Bruce Campbell carrying the film, and he is spectacular. Directing is Sam Raimi, who also directs the original Evil Dead and the third film in the series Army of Darkness. Raimi’s work can be also be seen in For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, Darkman, and The Quick and the Dead.
This movie is jam packed with gore and fun, and fans of the genre will be happy with this film. A great blend between horror, with it’s non stop array of zombies and blood, and comedy, with Ash’s antics, this picture is rewatchable, which is sometimes rare in horror movies. The make up effects are well done, with some very interesting choices, such as the stop motion ballerina dance of Linda’s decapitated corpse or the flood of a red viscerous liquid from the cellar. Very cool stuff, not just good for it’s gore value, but the effects are usually implemented in a humorous way, giving us double the bang for our buck! If you enjoy Evil Dead 2, I cannot recommend highly enough that you check out the others in the series. A review of the Army of Darkness Limited Edition is available in the review section, and of course, it’s by me. So, in closing, this is a classic, a must have for horror fans and people who can appreciate the humor in someone’s head being hacked with a chainsaw.
Video: How does it look?
“Evil Dead 2” is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, and it looks very good. This release has never had a great picture, but this is an improvement over the previous issues. The movie was obviously a low budget effort and I’m thinking that this is about the best it can/ever will look. Flesh tones, if that’s a good word for what I’m trying to describe (if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about) look fairly natural. Campbell’s face appears clear and vivid when he isn’t being possessed by evil spirits. There are a few times when some grain and artifacting are noticeable, but for a movie that takes place at night – the transfer shows some surprising depth. All in all, compare this version with an old VHS “Home Video” version and I think it’s safe to say that this looks great.
Audio: How does it sound?
A Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is supplied here, taking place of the old Dolby Surround mix from previous issues. For the most part, this is a dialogue driven movie…sorry, I couldn’t resist. There are a lot of “80’s surround effects” that try to heighten the mood and though the surrounds are used often, they really only make a difference in a couple of scenes. Dialogue still kind of has a “hiss” to it, if you listen carefully you can hear a bit of a shallowness to it. Still, like the video the audio is likely as good as it will ever sound and it’s not bad at all here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This is about the umpteenth version of this fine film on DVD. Seriously, I’ve lost count of the number of times it’s been released and it will, no doubt, be released again. Still, this Limited Edition release comes with a foam rubber cover that screams when you press the right eye (yes, really) just to start us off. The commentary track with Writer-Director Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Co-Writer Scott Spiegel and Special Make-Up Effects Artist Greg Nicotero is pretty funny indeed. These guys had a blast making the movie and are chuckling throughout – or maybe the shoot was hell and it’s been so long ago that they can laugh about it now. They know just about every inch of the movie and have some sort of story behind most everything (did you know the set was built in a high school gym)? Didn’t think so…There are also two featurettes, though “Evil Dead 2: Behind the Screams” is more of a narrated photo gallery with some more details about the shoot. “The Gore the Merrier” is a vintage featurette highlighting some behind the scenes footage. There are some cast bios and the original theatrical trailer. Bottom line, if you’ve never seen “Evil Dead 2” it’s just something words don’t do justice. It’s funny, first off and to see where Sam Raimi has come since this movie is hard to imagine. Take your pick, there’s about five different versions out there but this seems to be a pretty good one. Recommended.