Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Eric Alan

Plot: What’s it about?

It’s not a sequel…it’s not a sequel.

This is one of the oddest remakes I have ever seen. And I am not sure if you can even call it that. But then again, “Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn” is in a class by itself.

And I am reviewing this DVD without even had watched it. Odd, I know, but I’ll explain

…in time.

First let me talk about the film.

Despite the name, “Evil Dead 2” assumes you have never seen Part 1. In fact, it will likely confuse you silly if you have. The film begins by re-shooting and collapsing the whole first movie, which had about seven characters, into the first five minutes of this film with only two characters.

In “The Evil Dead” a group of young adults travel to a small scary cabin in the middle of the woods. They are there to have fun, have booze and have sex…or so they think.

Instead, they are really there to die… for our amusement. And it is an odd amusement!

Separately I will review the first version of this movie, which has just been released, with a very special version with outtakes, deleted scenes, commentary and much more. But now we will talk about the much better Part 2? Or it really should be called VERSION 2–it’s like a software upgrade, same thing done much better… much more user friendly.

This is one of the best films I have ever seen. In a Film Design class [my degree from BU is in “Broadcast & Film”, if you can imagine that] I wrote a 50 page breakdown on this film. It is a work of pure brilliance. But the excellence has nothing to do with the story.

Here goes the story: Boy [Ash played by Bruce Campbell] and girl [soon to be headless] go to cabin in woods [remember in Evil Dead 1 this was a bunch of guys and girls all aching to die]. Boy and girl read from “Book of the Dead.” Girl dies. Boy cuts off girl’s head and buries her in forest. But this is only after she’s become verey unpleasant company. Man’s hand comes alive. Man cuts of his hand…which torments him in very unpleasant ways while boy brings back his severed head girlfriend to also ruin his night. That’s the plot. Basically the story of a boy and his hand.

Moral is: don’t read from the Book of the Dead. Never read from the Book of the Dead. Silly, silly thing to do. NEVER read from the book of the dead!! This movie will show you why.

But when it is Bruce Campbell that does the reading and Sam Raimi does the directing, it’s a very funny thing. More than anything else this film is a comedy, but it is also an action film, a horror film, a spoof, and a 3 Stooges movie– all dreadfully funny stuff.

The film really relies on Campbell and his comic skills because it’s a one man show. Apart from the effects and the frenetic direction, Campbell has to carry the show. And he is a comic master. He is asked to perform every slapstick maneuver in the book of the dead and alive including hitting himself in the head with a stack of plates, 3 Stooges style.

He also is asked to make it funny as he takes a buzz saw and cuts off his hand. As blood splatters in his face he screams to his hand [now being severed], “Who’s laughing now?”

All very funny stuff.

When his hand starts to scurry away he traps it under a wastepaper basket and weights in down with a stack of books. The top book is “A Farewell to Arms.”

When his hand runs away into a mouse hole all the lighting fixtures starts laughing at him.

What makes this film so stellar is that it makes references to EVERY genre of film. I even noticed a reference to “The Final Countdown” and a big reference to “Time Bandits”. And it all can kill you will laughter.

I wasn’t savvy enough and Raimi wasn’t clear enough when he made the first movie. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to laugh or not. Now I know I was. But there is no question watching “Dead by Dawn.” If you can stomach the blood and gore and violence you will be laughing yourself into stitches. Just don’t let the gouls smell your blood as you start to bleed from those stitches.

Video: How does it look?

Remember when I started this review I said I hadn’t watched the DVD. Well, that’s the truth, so I can’t tell you anymore than its widescreen. And it has no features. NONE. So I leave this DVD in its shrink wrap-because this movie DESERVES features, anything else doesn’t do it justice. It’s one of the best films ever made! It NEEDS features!

Audio: How does it sound?

If the gouls haven’t sucked your brains out yet, you will know from this review I can’t answer this until the right version is released. Then it will sound frightfully good.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I haven’t heard anything but I know this film will be released with a full set of features. The original “Evil Dead” was released in a basic form and just came back from the undead in a new special release with all sorts of neat extras. And “Evil Dead 2” is a MUCH better film, so I know Mr. Raimi and Mr. Campbell will find it in their immortal souls to do the same for this much more deserving film.

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