Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

After watching The Skin I Live In, I remarked to my roommate that I’m going to need something trashy to cleanse my palate. I was so happy that the next movie in my Netflix queue features buckets of blood, chainsaws for hands, and lots of chin. So I’ve finally seen Evil Dead II. I still remember the VHS cover for it and how it used to freak me out when I went to the video store.

I used to tiptoe past that VHS and then dash past Hellraiser because I didn’t want Pinhead to notice me. Yeah, I have issues.
Evil Dead II was made in 1987, six years after The Evil Dead. Instead of picking up where the first movie left off, the movie retells the original story. In this version, Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend, Linda (Denise Bixler) are travelling alone and are up for a little breaking and entering into the creepy old cabin. What is the allure of that cabin? It looks like it should be called Tetanus Manor. This is coming from someone who loves abandoned buildings and camping. They celebrate their love for each other by playing the pian-y, dancing, and listening to that damned reel-to-reel that Professor Knowby (John Peaks) left behind before, you know, DEMONS. The recording summons the demons and we get lots of POV shots of the demons rushing to the cabin.

The action happens quicker in this movie and Linda is almost immediately possessed. The action is also bigger and more over the top. Ash beheads his girlfriend with a shovel, but this isn’t enough. Her body rips itself out of the grave, does a pert dance, and her head ends up in his lap.

So Ash jams Linda’s head in a vice and chainsaws it in half, just like Telly Savalas wishes he could have done to that evil doll in The Twilight Zone. Sadly, Ash’s problems aren’t over. He wakes up possessed, which means his skin turns into beef jerky.

The sun scares the evil out of Ash but then his right hand becomes possessed. So he chops it off with a chainsaw.


This movie likes two things; beating up Bruce Campbell and dousing him in buckets of blood. You know that one movie I watched, A Bucket of Blood, and how much I hated it because there wasn’t even one eensie bucket of blood? This movie should have been called Buckets of Blood and it wouldn’t be false advertising.
As if Ash isn’t having enough problems, the taxidermy in the cabin becomes possessed and is mocking him with its evil.

It’s just like the time I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s house and had to sleep in the taxidermy room. I already can’t sleep in places that aren’t my bed but the glinting eyes of woodland creatures helped keep me up all night, listening to Jewel on my walkman (Don’t judge!)
Aside from Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, no one from the original movie returns. Evil Dead II does have a twist by adding more people. The professor’s daughter, Annie (Sarah Berry) is going check up on her parents at Tetanus Manor. She quickly finds the bridge to the cabin out of order but there are some helpful hillbillies, Jake (Danny Hicks), and Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley), who agree to take Annie and Ed (Richard Domeier) to the cabin. Once there, they lock Ash in the basement because they think he killed Annie’s parents, and quickly discover that the path they took has disappeared. Looks like they imprisoned the only man crazy and strong enough to fight the demons.
Thus far, the movie has been mostly funny and over the top but it does get to me when Annie’s mom, played by Ted Raimi, attacks Ash in the basement.

Bobby Joe runs into the woods where the trees attack her and Jake is ripped in half by Annie’s mom. Luckily, Annie has pages that were missing from the Necronomicon ex Mortis that can give the demon flesh and push it back to its own time. Ash fashions a nifty chainsaw for his missing hand and a holster for his boomstick and is ready to fight the demons.

Annie opens the portal but she can’t close it and the movie ends, poised for Army of Darkness to begin.

Did you know that the Evil Dead series predates agriculture? You can find crude drawings of Bruce Campbell among Sumerian ruins, next to lists of royal inventory and prayers to the Anunnaki. It wasn’t until the Cold War when “In Ash We Trust” was removed from the currency and replaced with “In God We Trust.” None of these things are true, but I want them to be true, so they’re kind of truthy. Truthish. I really like this series, can you tell?
I love the first movie because it feels subversive when you watch it. It’s so grainy and looks like you’ve unearthed something evil.
I like this entry because it balances horror and comedy really well. It makes me wish that Bruce Campbell were more famous because he shows good range. In The Evil Dead, his character is really scared and tortured. In this movie, he’s scared and tortured but he’s also really really funny. And hot. And funny. Why are my favorite actors always character actors?
Then, in Army of Darkness, he brings on the funny. That movie makes me laugh so hard.
I especially like this movie because Annie is kind of bitchy, kind of annoying, but also capable. Ash would probably still be in that cabin if it weren’t for Annie. It’s nice because these movies are so dude-dominated.
There are, officially, about eight million deluxe and remastered editions of this series, that I should really invest and choose one of them. The one I got from Netflix was the Evil Dead II 2000 Anchor Bay limited edition release and it was surprisingly bare-boned.
My only real complaint about the movie is that some of the claymation effects don’t hold up as well as the ones in the original film, which is weird. Maybe they overreached and were too ambitious. They just felt very Beetlejuice-ian. Other than that, I think that this movie may be one of my movie soulmates.

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About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 1980's, possession, supernatural, zombies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

  1. amiee says:

    I hated that VHS cover too, I think I mentioned in another comment. That and the scary IT clown, I would avoid that one too. and well done for even being alone in a room full of taxidermied animals!

    • scarina says:

      You did! I don’t remember which one but I remembered it as I was writing this review. That cover is creepy and that skull has a lot of eyeball. Also, it has pretty much nothing to do with the movie. The It clown is also scary. I remember that Cracked recently did an article or short film about It & the clown was on the sidebar for a long time and the commenters were freaking out.
      Yeah, my uncle does taxidermy and I guess that room was a guest room & where they stored his trophies. I like taxidermy but that’s because it’s so creepy.

  2. Crypticpsych says:

    If I may recommend, I own two copies of Evil Dead (my autographed copy and the ultra super-duper 3-disc version)…a copy of Army of Darkness (with the regular version and the director’s cut)…and, most relevant here: two copies of Evil Dead II. I have the very very old 1998 DVD that has that exact creepy skull cover. It’s bare-bones (pun intended) and probably the same one you saw, but I’ve kept it because it’s signed by Evil Ed and Bobby Joe. The point I’m getting to, though, is that the other I have is the best release of Evil Dead II thus far: the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray they did. It’s fairly loaded with special features. I think they rereleased it on DVD too with the same cover art (they too both have the skull art), though I don’t know if they carried over most of the features….still, it’s Evil Dead II on DVD! Incidentally, I have an issue of Horrorhound that pays tribute to 1981 and, as part of it, there’s a page that has the artwork for every release of an Evil Dead movie in DVD, HD-DVD, Blu-ray, and UMD (to that point…the 25th Anniv. release hadn’t happened yet!) It’s kind of hilarious. I’m counting like 39 or so releases of the three films combined to that point including weird ones like a release of Drag Me to Hell that Wal-Mart did that came with a free copy of Army of Darkness or a lunch-box with the original that was done in 2001 (as well as Canadian and French/Canadian ones).

    Also, the Evil Dead series as a whole (particularly the first two) LOVES beating up Bruce Campbell. The next time you watch the original Evil Dead, count how many times he gets launched into furniture. Raimi so loves kicking his ass in these movies.

    If we’re lucky, maybe you’ll start a trend of Evil Dead Facts….The Leaning Tower of Pisa leans because Ash punched it by accident while fighting a Deadite…stuff like that.

    *sigh* I so love these films :)

    • scarina says:

      So the 25th anniversary rerelease is the way to go? It is so hilarious how often these are rereleased.
      Sometimes, I get the feeling that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are two teenage boys daring each other to jump off of things and filming themselves fighting.
      Omg, Evil Dead facts should happen. The sphinx lost its nose when Ash accidentally blew it off with his boomstick.
      They are amazingly fun.

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