Friday, October 14, 2016

31 Days of Horror- Day 14: Evil Dead II (1987)

(dir. Sam Raimi)

Rosebud Releasing/Embassy Communications/ De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Ash Williams romantic getaway to a cabin in the woods with his girlfriend turns into a night of strange terror thanks to the Book of the Dead.

I won’t hesitate to admit that despite Evil Dead II’s superior reputation, I actually prefer Raimi’s first film, The Evil Dead, significantly more. Evil Dead II is well put together and creative as all get-out but it lacks the surprise factor of the first film, even with the bonus of Ash becoming the iconic horror hero in this film. Part of what makes The Evil Dead so successful is its amateur production and the fact that Raimi and his crew were able to pull off so much on such a small budget and only a recently acquired knowledge of how to make a horror movie. While Evil Dead II is more closely in line with Raimi’s subsequent filmography, it isn’t genuinely frightening like that first film.

I think what defines the popular opinion of The Evil Dead vs. Evil Dead II comes down moreso to a taste in comedy than in horror. Bruce Campbell’s antics as Ash Williams are undoubtedly ionic and he’s a master of physical comedy, a live-action Looney Toon. But physical comedy is quite my temp and there’s only so many times I can watch Ash crash into objects and smash plates against his head without it becoming a bit trying. The one-liners are though, are groovy as hell, and that’s where I find the comedy aspect of Evil Dead II to be the most successful.

Even given my preference for the first film and lack of love for the comedic aspect, Evil Dead II is still a film that I like quite a lot. Tonally, there was nothing quite like it at its time and it really set the precedence for the over-the-top horror comedies that followed in its wake. While some of the films that followed Evil Dead II were more humorous, none achieved the same remarkable design work or ingenuity of scenes like the laughing cabin or the film’s climax. The level of insanity at work in this film isn’t something to downplay, and while I may go against the grain on its placement in the trilogy, I can find no fault in the popular opinion that Evil Dead II is the best of the three films.

Scare Factor: 1/5 Evil Dead II is a must watch for fans of the first or Army of Darkness, and fans of Raimi’s particular style and brand of humor. The Evil Dead set the bar too high for its sequel to have the same effect on me, but I will admit that the film’s ending remains one of the genre’s best.

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