Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn The Evil Dead Army Of Darkness - Ash Evil Dead - Groovy Army of Darkness - Movie Score
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The 31 Greatest Horror Movies For Your 2005 Drunken Halloween Bash
(That Probably Cost Less To Make Than You Paid to Rent Out A Few Kegs*)
Horror Movie # 19:  Evil Dead II

Halloween is a weird holiday. It's the only one where we celebrate spirits, reanimated corpses, and death (if you don't count Christmas). It's the one day out of the year where freaks can look normal and normal people go out of their way to look like freaks. And, best of all, it's a great excuse to pull out your stash of horror DVDs -- ranging from laughable low-budget garbage to quality low-budget classics -- and party like those dancing corpses in the Thriller video. Since many people consider a Halloween Party with the Scream trilogy and some Old Milwaukee a "smashing success," I figured I would put my unhealthy obsession with all things horror to good use and let the world in on the cinematic secrets to giving the best damn Halloween party ever! A new movie will be added daily, right through until the morning of October 31st! You can thank me later. Now, would be fine, too. Either way.

Would "care to lend
a hand?" be too obvious?

Evil Dead II
AKA: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
AKA: Evil Dead 2: The Sequel to the Ultimate Experience in Grueling Terror

Review written by: Alex Sandell

The Story

Ash is back (?) at the cabin his friends were killed in during the first Evil Dead movie.  For over 15 years Dead fans have tried to decide if Evil Dead 2 is a remake or a sequel.  To make myself feel better, I've found justification for it being a sequel.  Ash hasn't really forgotten the evil things that happened in the first film, but as he was possessed at the end (when he screams and the film comes to a close), the evil side of Ash is bringing the love of his life to the place as a sacrifice to those trees that rape people, or something.  That's probably not the story, but it is to me, and I'm the one writing this review.  So there.  Anyway, Ash is bringing his girlfriend up for a night of rollicking fun in an old cabin about 3,000,000 miles away from the nearest gas-station.  The two plan on drinking some champagne, having sex and doing bad Groucho Marx impressions.  They're interrupted when Ash comes across an old reel-to-reel recording where Professor Raymond Knowby rambles on about how he found the Book of the Dead and how the incantations started creepy, demonic things happening.  He then proceeds to read the incantations, just in-case anyone else missed the whole "creepy, demonic things" part of his ramble.  As soon as Ash plays the careless professor's incantations, the evil demons and spirits in the woods (usually a fast-motion camera and the sound of a powerful vacuum cleaner) possess his girlfriend.  He spends the rest of the night fighting off the decapitated head of his ex-girlfriend (who just can't take a hint, even when she's headbanging against walls like a fan of Quiet Riot), a bunch of nasty demons, a couple of rednecks, his own hand, and some fat bitch locked away in the cabin's fruit cellar.  

How Many Beers Should Be Consumed Before Watching?

It's a riot drunk or sober.  The first party I played this at was my 15th birthday party.  None of my friends had been drinking, but they were rolling on the floor with laughter.  The good kind of laughter.  The intentional kind.  Not that sort of, "a little shit came out when I farted" sort of awkward giggling stuff.  When the eyeball flew across the room into that redneck chick's mouth, one of my friends went into fits of laughter that literally lasted the rest of the movie, and started getting annoying.  I still have pictures from that birthday where my friend always looks like he's cracking up.  He is.  And that's because he couldn't get the scene out of his mind, and it really struck his funny bone.  But since you're not 15, you're hosting a Halloween party and people of drinking age are far too jaded to break out laughing for hours on end over a couple of neat gags, I suppose your friends (and the 3 weird people in the corner, that you swear you've never met) could handle 4 beers and still fall immediately in love with this movie, along with you, for showing them what they've been missing all their lives (I suppose those 3 weird people standing in the corner also missed getting an invite to your party). 

Gore Score

Choosing between a score of "Light Bruising," "Recently Deceased," "Badly Decomposed" and "Puke-Inducing," Evil Dead 2 gets a rating of "Badly Decomposed."  Being that the movie went out unrated anyway, I've never been able to figure out why some of the gore shots were cut.  I distinctly remember seeing pictures of a hacked up Evil Ed in Fangoria magazine.  The hacked up demon parts are no where to be found in the movie (although the green blood is still there).  A lot of the goriest scenes are shown in the shadows.  The movie is still one of the bloodiest around, but the self-censorship Raimi and the gang pulled never brings it to a "Puke-Inducing" level. 

Would You Like Cheese With That?

Horror movies can be "Easy on the Cheese," "Regular Cheese," "Extra Cheesy" or "Instant Cheese Based Coronary."  Evil Dead 2 is "Extra Cheesy."  Any movie where a man does a dance with a possessed lamp earns some extra cheese.  The stop-motion Linda corpse is also worthy of the rating, even though it scared my younger brother so much when he was a kid, he left the room and said, "that's it!  I can't take these Evil Dead movies!"  All in the eye (and age) of the beholder, I guess.  While Evil Ash looks scarier in this than he did in Army of Darkness, he is always lit up by this dorky red light, which is one of the only unintentional cheese moments in the film (I think somebody thought "red light = scary" while filming).

Drug Use 

With "Let Off With a Warning," "Pay a Small Fine," "Put on Probation" and "Go Directly to Jail" to choose from, Evil Dead 2 gets "Let Off With a Warning."  Outside of a bottle of champagne, which is never even sipped from, there are no drugs in this film.  The movie makes you feel like you must be on something, but the characters never are.  So why would it even get a warning?  Cops like warning people.  It makes them feel important.  I wonder if they use the line at home, like when their wife adds too much salt to the meatloaf?  "Honey," the cop says, staring at his wife from across the table, "I'm going to let you off with a warning, but next time I'll have to write you up a ticket.  The ticket will be written on a brick of salt.  And I'll make you lick it.  Now, could you please put your right leg up in the air and touch your nose, while I squeeze your left boob?  Darling, have you been drinking?"  The dumbfounded wife will look from her husband to her glass of wine and back to her husband.  "You know I've been drinking, Butch -- you brought home the wine!"  Butch will keep that hard-ass cop look on his face, stare into his wife's eyes and say, "No excuses.  Just answer the question, ma'am."  And they wonder why their wives leave them.

Sex and the Psycho

Horror flicks and sex go together like romantic comedies and crap.  A terror movie can be rated "Nun," "Curious Schoolboy," "Chick After 8 Beers" or "Paris Hilton."  It's a "Nun."  There's no sex or nudity.  Christians can sleep soundly tonight.

When Should it Crash the Halloween Party?

There's no wrong time or place for Evil Dead 2.  I've been your party guide for 12 movies, now (19 to go).  I think you've learned to make the call all by yourself.  Just remember what I said:  "There's no wrong time or place for Evil Dead 2."  I'm sure, if you keep that in mind, you'll play the DVD at just the right time and place. 

Will You Hate Yourself in the Morning?

Waking up from a night of partying can be downright depressing.  Waking up with a cheap horror movie in your DVD player can feel like "Sex With a Hotty," "Sex With Someone in Your League," "Sex With Your Sister" or "Sex With a Sheep."  Evil Dead 2 is like having "Sex With a Hotty."  First and foremost the film is funny.  The scene with Ash being attacked by his possessed hand and looking for a way to lop it off is the best slapstick ever seen in a horror flick.  If Charlie Chaplin were alive today and into terror, he'd be directing this movie.  Okay, maybe not -- but at least he wouldn't be dead.  Ash in the room with the partying possessed piano, books, lamp and deer's head is a riot.  Bruce Campbell's performance in this scene could make Jack Nicholson at his nuttiest proud.  Sam Raimi has never done a better job directing in his life.  Not even the fastest and most frantic moments in the Spider-Man films, or even those in Army of Darkness, match his work here.  It's a shame he's taking the easy way out and producing a remake of the original Evil Dead instead of directing the fourth in this series.  It's been a long time coming, and a remake without Bruce Campbell as Ash just doesn't cut it.  It'd be sort of like a new Indiana Jones directed by Michael Bay and starring Hayden Christensen as Indy.  But no matter how much Sam Raimi fucks up his own series with a big cash-in remake, we'll always have Evil Dead 2.  The movie is like the wildest roller-coaster ride you've ever taken.  It moves at a mile a minute (you know, they need to update that expression, because a "mile a minute" really isn't considered that fast, anymore) and will keep your butt stuck to the seat and your eyes glued to the television set for the duration of the ride film.  The movie isn't all just fun and games, though.  It does have some serious terror.  When Ash is locked in the fruit-cellar, to find he has a roommate in the form of the hideous decomposing Henrietta demon, it's suspense at its best.  When she busts through the dirt floor and says, "Someone's in my fruit cellar -- someone with a fresh soul," it still sends chills up my spine.  But it isn't the demons or the slapstick moments or the buckets of blood that has turned the Evil Dead franchise into the biggest cult phenomenon of the past 20 years.  It's those one-liners Ash is always so quick with and the pitch-perfect way Bruce Campbell delivers them.  Evil Dead 2 definitely doesn't lack in this department (actually, it doesn't really lack in any department, outside of some shaky acting and a few plot holes).  Ash getting ready to do some serious ass-whuppin' by adding a chainsaw to the stump that used to hold his hand, creating a sawed-off shotgun and saying, "Groovy" could be the most beloved moment in horror history.  This is right up there with Dr. Frankenstein's, "It's alive!  ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!" or Norman Bates', "Mother! Oh God, mother! Blood! Blood!"  You have to see it to really understand why it's so powerful, but once it's been watched, it won't be forgotten.  I wouldn't think twice about putting the scene into the top 100 moments in movie history.  Not "horror movie," but movie.  As in, every film ever made.  Then there's the "swallow this" line, which I'll let you see for yourself.  It gets cheers every single time, and I've seen this with an audience plenty of times at horror conventions and midnight screenings.  This is the movie every other horror/comedy is trying to be.  Shaun of the Dead?  It wanted to be the next Evil Dead Dead and Breakfast?  It hoped for the title, as well.  Bubba Ho-Tep, Cabin Fever, Dead/Alive ... the list could go on forever.  Evil Dead 2 redefined horror/comedy and none of its imitators will ever touch on its greatness.  This one's magic in a box, and if you don't already own it, you owe it to yourself to add it to your collection -- especially with the just released limited edition DVD case, which is an exact replica of the Book of the Dead used in the movie (see below).  Groovy! 

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Fellow horror hound?  Have any comments on this film?  Recommendations for the list?  Email Alex!

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