Is Evil Dead II just another generic horror movie set in a cabin in the woods? Nope. The Evil Dead franchise is much bigger than that, and this film is no exception. While many retro reviews discuss how outdated the special effects are, this movie emphasizes how much better practical effects can be. Evil Dead II actually gets better with age, much like the film’s hero, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell). Evil Dead II turns 30 this month. Take a look back with PopHorror!
So, where do the evil dead spooks come from? They originate from an ancient book — the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis — discovered during an archaeological dig by a Professor Knowby (John Peaks). Ash plays a recording by the dear Professor, not knowing that the recited passages can resurrect the dead. Oops! As the movie title suggests, these dead are evil.
Before long, Ash’s female cabin companion Linda (Denise Bixler) is demonically possessed, accidentally killed, and then possessed yet again. It’s all quite a mess! Now, imagine having your lover transform into a hideous, murderous demon witch. Okay, it’s not a huge stretch for some of us (don’t leave the toilet seat up, fellas!). Anyway, as Ash battles his own partner, she constantly taunts him and loosens a few screws in his upstairs thought-box. In the process, Ash offers us a comical and relatable delirium with boisterous elements of slapstick. Bruce Campbell does a great job of playing a surreal “everyman.”
There’s a wonderful balance between truly silly elements and more serious horror. While the laughs may outweigh the shocks, there are enough horror elements for a well-rounded experience. Honestly, I can imagine demons being silly, just as Evil Dead II suggests. They would indeed toy with us, try to possess us, rattle our sanity and ultimately devour us — based on however they’re feeling at the moment.
That’s part of this movie’s charm. The evil is not static. It is ever changing, and occasionally even relenting — like the weather, or a bitchy spouse who’s had a bad day at work. They too might make us smash dinner plates over our heads, cut our hands off with a chainsaw, or turn the chainsaw on them instead. Just remember: This is not an advice column!
Along Ash’s journey, we meet some unforgettable characters. There’s Professor Knowby’s daughter Annie (Sarah Berry), Ed Getley (Richard Domeier), Jake (Dan Hicks) and Bobby Jo (Kassie Wesley). Last but not least, we meet the undead Henrietta (Ted Raimi), who goes through some exotic transformations while battling Ash and his crew. While these characters all play a role in Evil Dead II, the audience assumes right off the bat that they’ll be goners. Evil Dead II is, after all, a horror movie. Who would expect all these folks to survive the night?
Then there’s this memorable fellow:
Now, at the end of the day, Evil Dead II is a movie that built upon its predecessor. While it can be considered a horror parody, what’s important is that it’s a wild, fun ride with some great effects. Horror fans need movies like these, at least occasionally. We get to see Ash go through a whole bunch of stuff no one should ever experience, all with the charisma that we only wish we had — all from the relative safety of our homes. Groovy!