EVIL DEAD 2
|July 14, 2011 | SHOW||Posted by James Watkins|
If someone asks me to suggest a good horror, it sets off a series of sparks in my dark reptilian mind, causing a collage of fantastic colours, deep in the reptilian complex, the name of a single film, which makes its way down into the flem of my throat then slithers up my lizard like tongue to form the passionate words that are like music to my scaly ears, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. For me there simply is no substitute for one of the most entertaining and richly creative horror movies of all time.
No horror will scare the bejesus out of you one minute and have you shitting your pants in laughter the next, like Sam Raimi’s 1987 masterstroke of filmmaking . A black comedy in every sense of the word, Evil Dead 2 is actually an update or upgrade of Raimi’s first film in 1981, Evil Dead, which was made some years earlier on next to no budget, whilst the director and most of the crew were still college students.
Armed with a budget of 3.6 million this time around and co-written with Scott Spiegel, Raimi (who has since gone on to direct Spider Man 1,2 and 3 and will soon be at the helm of the new Wizard of OZ flick) took all the best elements from the first film, threw in some slap stick humor that rivals the Three Stooges, nitrous injected it with Gregory Nicotero’s special effects artistry and captured it in all its gory details and suspense through the action packed cinematography of Peter Deming. Utilising every trick in the film handbook and throwing in a few of their own causes a state of nervous psychosis that could easily bring on old chemical flashbacks, leaving even the great Dr Timothy Leary shaking in his psychedelic coloured boots.
Evil Dead 2 tells the story of a couple who travel to a seemingly abandoned cottage, deep in the woods for a romantic escape. There they find a disturbing ancient book Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (The Book of the Dead), and after reading from the pages unleash a reign of terror on themselves in the form of demon zombies which systematically terrorise, kill and take over the bodies of the cast.
Our hero, Ash (played by actor Bruce Campbell, who reprises his role from the original Evil Dead) is our beast of burden during the film: copping slap stick beatings from an old zombie woman, as well as being forced to decapitate his girlfriend with a shovel and then has his hand processed by a demon, which he consequently chops off with a chainsaw. The Chainsaw then brilliantly becomes a substitute for his right hand…makes perfect sense.
Without giving too much away (too late) the film ends with Ash being pulled through a time portal into the past: 1300AD medieval England, which leads into the opening story for the next, more mainstream Evil Dead film, Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (1992), which despite the genius of the second film is still more widely know amongst the greater commercial masses.
Bruce Campbell is one of my favorite character actors and his performance in this film is at times deliberately borderline cheesy, but his ability to convey so much raw emotion in his face, and body language have immortalised him as the ultimate action hero in my opinion – especially with his kick ass chainsaw right hand and double barrelled, sawn off shot gun. His character aint perfect and he’s not trying to be. He’s just an everyday dude that’s been thrown in the meat grinder and is forced improvise the best he can. The scene where he forces the demon possessed, decapitated head of his girlfriend into a bench vice is one of the most disturbing and funny scenes in cinematic history.
Filmed on location in Wadesboro, North Carolina, in the autumn of 1986, it has a rugged look and feel with the real standout in the production being the makeup effects under the direction of Raimi and effects legend, Tom Savini’s protégé, Gregory Nicotero.
Forget the CGI crap that our cropped attention spans are conditioned with today – the latex rubber, fake blood, camera tricks and master puppetry is what makes this film so special and stands it apart from the modern day horror. Respect needs to paid to the directors brother, Ted Raimi, whom despite ongoing problems, wore a massive latex rubber fat suit of an old zombie woman for much of the film. Sweating so much into the suit that it had to be drained regularly, awesome.
For me filmmaking is all about creativity and this movie has it in spades. From the tense, drawn out scenes to the gore fest comedic moments, it’s the extra little touches that are thrown into each scene that makes it so ingenious. A scene where Ash’s demon possessed hand is dragging him unconscious across the floor, upon waking, Ash, takes a knife, stabbing it “Look who’s laughing now” he says at the same time as he can clearly feel the agony of what he’s done to himself.
Next time you are lost in the video shop, stoned, hungover and on a come down whilst struggling to find or think of that elusive cult classic you have been wanting to see, but just can’t remember the name of – access your Reptilian complex, think horror, think zombies, think chainsaws, think Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn and fully realise creative film making in all it’s glory.
The Void – 5 Stars.
deadites.net – Official Evil Dead fan site