Evil Dead II (1987)

Director: Sam Raimi

Obviously there was only one way to follow up last night’s viewing. It was a less obvious idea for Sam Raimi, though, who had considered a sequel to Evil Dead but expected his second feature, Crimewave, to be his real breakthrough hit, and who only took the sequel option seriously when it proved not to be so. The second Dead film, therefore, went ahead with more experience on the crew’s part and also a substantially bigger budget (Evil Dead mega-fan Stephen King prevailed upon Dino De Laurentiis, who was producing various King adaptations at the time, to cough up cash for it), which I’m pleased to say does show on screen (literally, too; it’s pretty visibly shot on 35mm rather than being blown up from 16mm like the original was). And, as I noted, this one was intended to be rather more comedic, so I didn’t have any queries about the tonal register of the thing. Best of all, Evil Dead II relies a lot more heavily upon Bruce Campbell, who has to carry most of the film’s first half pretty much by himself; it’s all about his amazing facial expressions (especially in the “laughing room” business) and his physicality as he fights the demons, particularly the one possessing his hand and using it against himself. It’s an amazing performance that demonstrates just how committed Campbell clearly was to this thing. And yet something stops me from quite loving the whole thing… I suspect a good part of that is the film’s weird pacing. Basically, it opens with what might be called the Readers Digest condensed version of the first film, a recap to set up the sequel, but this is delivered at such a ridiculous rate I suspect someone unfamiliar with the original might be left wondering what the hell they just saw. And I’m sure this rapid-fire retelling was meant to be part of the film’s humour, I’m just not sure how well it worked. Still, Evil Dead II has more things in its favour than otherwise, and I imagine it would be a riotous experience with a cinema audience. I suspect it’ll grow on me with more viewings, and I really must also see Army of Darkness as well now, mustn’t I…

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One thought on “Evil Dead II (1987)

  1. Lucius Paisley October 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    “… and I really must also see Army of Darkness as well now, mustn’t I…”

    Well, the question there is, exactly WHICH version of AoD will you see? It’s one of those curiosities of film you see every now and then where different prints have made it to all formats with no clues as to which one you have.

    Minor to major changes in dialogue, scenes cut, scenes put in, alternate endings… the pot luck of cinema awaits you.

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