Right, brace yourself… I’m about to hit you with some knowledge that may initially sit uneasily with you. You ready?
Evil Dead 2 is without a doubt the greatest pure movie experience in the history of cinema.
You recovered yet? Take a moment if you need it…. But it’s true. You know when someone describes a film as being a rollercoaster ride? Well no other movie made feels like one more than Sam Raimi’s goofy triumph of splat stick lunacy, which combines the ferocious prat falling of the Three Stooges, with the crazed cartoon logic of Chuck Jones and then soaks the whole thing in gore.
The plot is utterly inconsequential, as nothing but pure incident powers the characters through this hyper-active spook house, but here goes anyway: Granite jawed Ash has headed to an abandoned log cabin with his girlfriend Linda for some vacation time only to find a tape recorder sitting on a desk. After turning it on, the recorded spoken incantations resurrect Dark spirits in the wood that possess Linda whom Ash kills in self defence and buries out back. After being tormented by weird visions, laughing furniture and the very bitey remains of Linda’s head, Ash slowly starts to lose his mind until a new group show up lead by the daughter of Professor Knowby, the previous owner of the cabin. So Ash and the group have to weather a night of flying eyeballs, gibbering cellar monsters and the very real fact that any of them could get possessed at any moment, in order to find a way to send these creatures back to where they came from.
This could be the greatest fusion between Sam Raimi and his long suffering lead actor, the legendary Bruce Campbell, that exists. More polished than the first film, more focused than the third, the sheer energy of the thing is breathtaking with Raimi hurling every cinematic thing in the book at the screen with audacious camerawork erupting everywhere.
Be it a POV of a creature as it charges THROUGH a car via it’s windscreens or us tracking with a screaming Cambell as an evil force barrels him through a forest at dizzying speeds, Evil Dead 2’s inventiveness knows no bounds and subtlety is not an option. It’s also wildly funny too with an extended scene of Ash’s own possessed hand beating the crap out of him among the many brutal indignities he has to face as Raimi’s own personal punching bag.
The special make up effects by Mark Shostrom are top notch, with ghoulish, over the top monsters walking the tightrope between scary and cartoonish, terrorizing everyone around them with their massive, tombstone teeth and milky white eyes and matching the tone of the film perfectly.
Evil Dead 2 is also one of those rare films that actually get better the things you find wrong, too. In their sheer zest to get such insanity filmed, in one scene you can actually see the studio ceiling, spotlights and all and in another there’s clearly a yawning tear in the crotch of the suit of the Henrietta Monster (played by Sam’s brother Ted), but it actually doesn’t matter. Neither does that fact that it doesn’t even try to sync up with it’s predecessor, with the first 15 minutes acting like a mini remake with only two people showing how important utter propulsion is to it’s story, as is the bizarrely quotable, yet totally short hand dialogue too with “Groovy”, “Chainsaw!” and “Workshed!” becoming instantly iconic the second they leave Campbell’s mouth.
As you may have guessed from the five hundred or so words of me gushing my heart out, Evil Dead 2 is a movie that’s incredibly close to me as I utterly fell head over heels in love with it and it “swallowed my soul” the second I saw it. Incredibly fun, ridiculously silly and as mental as a caravan full of rabid Mormons, Sam Raimi’s gore classic stands tall as one of the most inventive horror/comedies of all time. Not bad for a film with a lead with a chainsaw for a hand.
“Who’s laughing now?” Screams Ash during a bout of impromptu chainsaw surgery.
The answer is you will. A bloody lot.