Directed by: Sam Raimi
Distributed by: De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Written by Alexander Reams
The level of shock and awe that was showcased in “The Evil Dead” must’ve seemed like child’s play when Sam Raimi released his even funnier requel, “Evil Dead II,” sometimes known as “Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn.” If the first film was Raimi being a minimalist, this is his definition of maximalist filmmaking. A blood-soaked fever dream that follows the last survivor of “The Evil Dead,” Ashley “Ash” Williams played by Bruce Campbell as he once again brings his girlfriend up to the same cabin in the woods and the woods start to come to life (again). But Ash remembers the last time, so he isn’t playing around. And it’s clear “The Evil Dead” was Raimi getting warmed up.
With backing from the legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis the budget expanded from the previous film’s modest $375,000 budget to $3.5 million, Raimi has more room to throw guts, gore, and grim reapers at the audience. The animatronics from the previous film are upgraded, looking frighteningly realistic, more so than the first film, and put to effective use. Their presence is introduced through the same frenetic camerawork that Raimi employed during “The Evil Dead.” Whipping, diving, and attacking Ash with the screeching glee of a banshee. Using the camera to invoke the idea of a point of view angle of the woods attacking adds to the terror that we already know is waiting out in the woods, the deadites and demons, waiting for a new soul to torture.
Raimi paces “Evil Dead II” at breakneck speed, the Book of the Dead is revealed earlier, leading to the demons possessing Linda and moving the plot forward earlier in the film which allows it to take over the majority of the short, 84-minute, runtime. The film focuses on the environment, the roads they take on the way to the cabin, the bridge they cross, which is a catalyst to one of the great movie “screams,” and the forest itself. The appreciation of nature and the intrusion by people is one of the more surprising parts of “Evil Dead II.”
By the finale, Raimi is mixing comedy and horror expertly with Ash having been possessed, exorcised, chopping off his own hand, and affixing a handy-dandy chainsaw to the bloody stump. It’s gleefully macabre, a damn good time at the movies, and makes a great case for the power and importance of animatronics and practical effects in the horror industry.
“Evil Dead II” Trailer