In this day and age, the notion of an isolated cabin in the woods evokes only one image: that of a fright film where a bunch of unsuspecting teenagers end up falling victim to unspeakable horrors one after another. Back when Evil Dead II came out however, that was not the case, and this film (along with the first in the series and several other horror movies) would be the ones to create the concept, and it is pretty easy to say that among all these influences, Evil Dead II is one of the strongest.
What is Evil Dead II?
As with many 80’s films, most of what you should expect from the movie is already found in the title. This sequel follows up right after the events of the first film (you can actually watch the two movies back to back for a full experience).
As a quick recap, here’s basically what happened in the first filme: Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell), his sister, his girlfriend, and two other friends go to a cabin for a vacation during spring break. It turns out that the basement of the cabin is the current home of a demonic book of the dead and they end up unleashing evil spirits thanks to an unfortunate circumstance of playing a tape that has a recording of the invocation. As expected, they all start getting killed one after another and by the end of the film, Ash is the only survivor.
Evil Dead II begins with a re-shoot of the last scenes of the previous film –establishing Ash as still the protagonist. This time, he encounters the real owner of the cabin: the daughter of a professor who have found the book and her team who has new pages of the Necronomicon from some digsite somewhere else in the world. The movie centers around the group working (begrudgingly) with Ash in order to find a way to destroy the book before it kills them all.
Birth of the Boomstick
This is the film that coined the nickname ‘boomstick’ for shotguns –so that should give you a pretty good idea of what the writing is like. Raimi is obviously a fan of the horror genre, but he also makes the effort to add a little more life and zest to a film genre that is normally just filled with blood, gore, and creative forms of violence. Not that the director does not have moments of sheer terror, while none of the scenes in this second film is as disturbing as the tree-rape scene in the first film, Evil Dead 2 delivers a fair share of gore and jumpscares.
But as we said, the writing is truly something to appreciate. Most of the dialogue, by itself, is the kind of campy, cheesey sort that one would expect from a low budget b-movie. But the delivery of the lines by the actors (and particularly, Campbell’s gloriously hammy approach) makes it all feel enjoyable to watch. The audience is easily caught up in the emotions and moments of the film and allows you laugh along with the characters instead of laughing at the movie itself.
The Test of Time
Considering that the movie was shown back in 1987, the pacing, cuts, and overall approach of the movie certainly feels dated (though a little bit less so compared to the first film). The best way to watch this is still as a three-movie affair with the entire trilogy and a large bag of popcorn. Evil Dead II is not going to leave you scared, but it will leave a pretty strong impression especially on those watching it for the first time. The dialogue is entertaining, the visuals manage to still look somehow decent in today’s modern age of special effects, and the overall experience will have you better off than not having seen the movie at all.