Evil Dead II (1987)

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AKA Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn, the subtitle which ended up lending its name to a fine Edinburgh institution.

Bruce Campbell returns, playing Ash once again, in this sequel to the heart-pounding horror that put Sam Raimi on the map. And he’s not finding it easy to escape those demonic forces.

After an initial recap of the first movie (filmed by Raimi to drag viewers straight into the story and necessary because of some problem with the rights to the first film), things start going horribly wrong for our hapless anti-hero, Ash, and don’t really let up for the duration of the film.

After the hassle he received for the first movie, Raimi went all out to make sure everyone was kept happy this time around. Using different coloured dyes to sneak past the strict censors, lashings of twisted humour and a constant barrage of moments too preposterous to be taken seriously, Evil Dead II remains one of the best, ballsiest horror comedies ever made.

Just uttering words like “groovy” and “workshed” is enough to place Bruce Campbell in the hearts of horror fans worldwide (trust me, it’s all in the delivery) while the rest of the cast do a great job even if they are all there simply to get chewed up and spat out by demonic forces. It’s Ash who remains the focus here, one of the greatest human characters ever placed in the horror genre and played brilliantly by Campbell.

As for the non-humans; this time around we get fun with a mischievous hand, there’s an evil hag called Henrietta, more nasty trees and another fantastic display of “Raimi-cam” to enjoy.

A visual treat, thanks to some wild camera moves and insane effects, the movie also throws in a surprisingly high number of great lines of dialogue considering it’s sparse script. My personal favourite involves Ash talking to himself in a mirror but there are many to choose from and who could resist smiling at the response to the demon chanting “swallow your soul, I’ll swallow your soul”? Tonally, it’s far removed from the original movie but it’s just as fantastic in a number of different ways. Taken as a double-bill, The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II are like two of your children in the way you can never pick one as an outright favourite. Well, if you’re a horror fan anyway.

Every one of the classic movies screened this year was a very special moment for me, a chance to see old favourites and one I’d somehow missed before now (The Tingler) in the company of great horror fans and great horror film-makers. This was the perfect end to the 20th birthday celebrations, and I was sure to tell Adele Hartley afterwards as we all made the most of one last late night in the bar.

DIRECTOR: SAM RAIMI
WRITER: SAM RAIMI, SCOTT SPIEGEL
STARS: BRUCE CAMPBELL, SARAH BERRY, DAN HICKS, KASSIE WESLEY DEPAIVA, TED RAIMI, DENISE BIXLER
RUNTIME: 84 MINS APPROX
COUNTRY: USA

Film Rating: ★★★★★

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