Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Evil Dead II (Sam Raimi, 1987) Review

So the first Evil Dead films, while it was scary at the time, hasn't aged well. Sure, the effects look good for the time, it just comes off as cheesy and accidentally what would happen if the film makers themselves realised this and thought "you know what? Why don't we just make it again but deliberately cheesy and silly". Evil Dead II is this exactly this idea. So will the sequel (..or remake...kind of) be better than first or will it just be too forced with its humour. Let's find out.

Retelling the first film, Ash (Bruce Campbell) takes his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) to a secluded cabin in the woods where thing to wrong after a professor's recording of the book of the dead is played. Linda is transformed into a 'deadite' and the same could happen to Ash. The professor's daughter (Sarah Berry) returns to the cabin after Ash fights off the curse (and his own hand) but things continue to spiral out of control as the spell strengthens. Ash has to fight the evil dead armed with a shotgun and a chainsaw for a hand.

Let's address Ash. In the first film, he was a generic survivor character who didn't have much to him outside of living (debatably). This time, however, he is expanded as a more interesting character who Bruce Campbell brings a lot to. He is more competent despite the horrible situations he finds himself in. I think the more relaxed and comedic environment that he finds himself in makes for more character based moments that make him stand out. With a more interesting protagonist also makes for more interesting villains. The monsters in this film are much more impressive and well designed than before. Instead of just make up, we are given stop motion monsters that are more threatening and actually can freak you out. A much needed improvement over vines and camera tricks.

The new tone that the film established is much better than playing horror straight. It gives a new twist on what was established (literally) and makes the film much more unique. Seeing the look of a gritty horror film combined with more comedic dialogue and character moments is bizzare but welcomed. I suppose my problems with the film derive from the fact that Ash, once again, is the only interesting character in comparison to the rest of the cast. Considering that Ash this on his own for most of the film. Most of the my flaws with the first one are fixed as whittling the cabin crew down to two was a smart idea.

Evil Dead II is a big improvement of the first film. It's interesting that a film labelled as the second film is more akin to a remake than a continuation. Begs the question which film is canon but, considering what's next, I can assume this one is seeing as the next film literally takes place seconds later. Join me next time for the last in the Evil Dead trilogy that doesnt even have the name: Army of Darkness. What about the actual remake of the first film? Well, I have it on DVD now but with Army of Darkness and my Halloween pick there won't be time...maybe next year.

The new found sense of humour is welcomed as the series steps into a more comfortable environment.

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