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The Evil Dead movies
Part 2: Evil Dead II, Dead by Dawn!
By Bert Ehrmann
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Fort Wayne Reader
Over the last few years Hollywood has become remake crazy, and it seems as if one of the more popular types of movies to be remade are horror films. One of the movies that's in the process of being remade for good or ill is The Evil Dead.
What would become a trilogy of movies began with The Evil Dead in 1981, continued with Evil Dead II in 1987 and was completed with Army of Darkness in 1993. While The Evil Dead was mostly a straight horror movie Evil Dead II was a crazy mix of comedy and horror. But it's horror by way of slapstick The Three Stooges.
Personally, I like Evil Dead II a lot, but it's my least favorite of the trilogy. In many ways Evil Dead II seems like a bigger budget remake/ alternate take on The Evil Dead. In fact, the first half of Evil Dead II is a revised retelling of that first film.
In Evil Dead II, instead of Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his four college friends visiting a spooky cabin in the woods and discovering the tape left by the professor reading aloud passages from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the book of the dead, it's just Ash and his girlfriend. But mostly the same stuff happens in Evil Dead II as it did in The Evil Dead; she becomes possessed by demons and no matter how many times Ash kills her she keeps coming back for more.
There are differences in how Evil Dead II tells The Evil Dead Story and its mix of a bigger budget and slapstick humor make the tone and feel of the two movies completely different from one and other. The beginning of Evil Dead II is much more over-the-top, goofy and is funnier than The Evil Dead and after this retelling Evil Dead II continues the story of The Evil Dead in some pretty interesting ways.
The last half of Evil Dead II introduces a group of new characters to the mix including the professor's daughter who pays a visit the cabin looking for her father. There, they find a blood-covered Ash and assume the worst. But after they find the professor's “deadite” wife hiding in the basement and as the woods around them literally begins to creep towards the cabin these new characters realize Ash is the least of their problems.
There is gore and terror in Evil Dead II but there is also a lot of humor too. In one scene Ash's hand becomes infected by some evil presence and he's forced to cut it off, which is gruesome enough. But after the hand is detached it runs around the room on its own climbing through Looney Tunes-like mouse holes in walls and at one point flips Ash the bird. When Ash gets the upper hand (haa haa) on things he mutters, “Who's laughing now!?”
There are lots of these scenes like this in Evil Dead II that are so over the top (detached eyeballs fly across rooms, walls spew blood) they would be gross in any other movie. But here they're really funny. And that separates Evil Dead II from just about every other horror movie ever made. There are as many laughs in Evil Dead II as there are scares. If not more.
Evil Dead II also introduces a different, more action-hero like, version of the Ash character. Gone is the sensitive wimpy Ash of The Evil Dead and instead here is the catch-phrase muttering (one of his favorite lines is “groovy”) demonite killing Ash with a chainsaw attached where one hand used to be and a shotgun in the other. Evil Dead II and Ash are lot more comic book-like than The Evil Dead but they're also a lot more fun too.
While Evil Dead II is kind'a sort'a a remake of The Evil Dead, it also directly sets up the third and final film of the trilogy; Army of Darkness. This last movie would take Ash from the creepy cabin in the woods to a medieval castle in the desert! Grade B+.
Evil Dead II is available on home video and digital download. The Evil Dead remake, now simply titled Evil Dead, is due in theaters April 12. Visit me online at DangerousUniverse.com.