Horror Movie Matters: #15: Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn 1987, Dir. Sam Raimi

#15: Evil Dead II 1987 Dir. Sam Raimi

In 1983, The Evil Dead was widely released. It was given a rave review by Stephen King and gained publicity through being banned in several countries. Due to the film's marginal success, it was granted permission for a sequel. Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn isn't so much a sequel, as it is an extended, comedy remake. The first Evil Dead film played everything straight and most of the black comedy was derived from uncomfortable surprises like the "amorous tree scene", but Evil Dead II takes everything to the next level and lets its the audience in on the joke, turning this 1980's horror film into a demented Warner Bros. cartoon. The film begins with Ash Williams and his girlfriend Linda on a romantic trip to a cabin in the woods. After they arrive, Ash discovers an archeological recording of a professor reading an excerpt from the Necronomicon, an occult tome. After the passage is read, all hell literally breaks loose. There are only a handful of films that make watching gore and violence so much fun, and Evil Dead II is chief among them. The character of Ash, played by cult-movie hero, Bruce Campbell is really created in this film. He is the cocky, out of his depth everyman that we love to watch get knocked around. Evil Dead II would spawn a direct sequel in Army of Darkness, a throwback to the works of Ray Harryhausen, featuring Ash fighting monsters in a medieval world. These films would go on to inspire an off-Broadway musical, a remake, three video games, a comic book series and several pop culture references, the most recent of which was Cabin in the Woods. Although, while both The Evil Dead and Army of Darkness are enjoyable, if you've never seen the series before, I have to recommend Evil Dead II to start,for its intimate moments of horror, its pitch black comedy and its goofy performance from the incomparable Bruce Campbell.