The cinematic release of Evil Dead is so close that we can nearly taste it.
But, thanks to some rather awesome timing, you have another choice, as you can now also watch Evil Dead II in its fully restored, high definition glory (or should that be gory?) too!
Now I will probably get insulted heavily for saying this, but I have always preferred the second film.
Yes, The Evil Dead did terrify, amaze and disgust me, leaving a permanent mark on my memory for all time. But, Evil Dead II added a vital ingredient -comedy. And crucially, it’s comedy that is perfectly executed and completely complements the film, (arguably) making a perfect concept even more perfect.
The film starts with a re-shot recap of the events of the first film and the sequel part really starts to take off as Ash battles to overcome the demon that has possessed his body.
With all of his friends now dead at the hands of the evil forces at the cabin he struggles with his sanity as everything, including the furniture and even one of his own hands seems to be working against him.
The daughter of the scientist who initially discovered the necronomicon (the book that has caused of the demon problems to take place) eventually makes her way to the cabin with a colleague and two local guides.
Initially they suspect Ash of being a insane murderer, but when they finally manage to communicate, the situation becomes clear and the group of five are soon deeply involved in the demonic events.
With evil lurking everywhere, the group struggles to unravel the secrets of the necronomicon and send the demons back to where they came from.
And along the way there is more gore, thrills and gripping action than you can imagine.
So, what makes Evil Dead II stand out?
First there’s the story. It’s simple, uncomplicated, but oh so absorbing, well paced and exciting.
The fascinating range of events that take place in close proximity to this small cabin prove conclusively that fancy locations and complex situations are not necessary to create a great horror film.
The quality of production is also key, with both Evil Dead II and its predecessor being made on a surprisingly small budget. We’re talking about special effects from back in the early, experimental days of horror. And boy are they impressive. The quality of this second film is noticeably better, looking more polished and with even more, creatively applied gore and action.
The camera work and editing too are much improved on the first film, showing that Raimi and the team were quickly learning about their trade and how to build on the success of their first hit.
Finally you have the cast, all of whom are little known, but were fully devoted to their role and the project.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) was hard to take seriously in the first film due to his character being so achingly goofy. But the comedy element in Evil Dead II makes his actions and the whole surreal situation more acceptable. Ash is more confident and dynamic and so does a far better job at engaging with the audience.
In addition to the film, the special edition Blu Ray release contains a bunch of great extras with commentary and bonus features. Now, I’m not usually one for watching the extra features, but when it comes to the Evil Dead films, you’re guaranteed a facinating insight into the making of these films, which often involved methods that were unconventional, often uncomfortable for the cast members, and usually involved goods from the local hardware store.
In addition to that, the high definition element really does emphasise that authentic celluloid feel which is far better than the VHS, dust induced crackle that I was used to when watching this film over the years.
Although Evil Dead II is a simple concept that was produced without the support of huge budget (unlike most modern horror films) it reaches that rare level of perfection that can only be achieved by that small number of films that were made at the perfect time, in the perfect place, with the perfect people.
And much like many of the 80’s genre defining horror classics, no modern remake/reboot/re-imagining will ever topple it from that pedestal of perfection.
Horror just doesn’t get more fantastic than this.