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.
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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