So I’m having a Necronomicon fix tonight and I had to revisit one of my favourite films of all time EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN. Not only does it showcase one of the greatest actors alive in the one and only BRUCE CAMPBELL as ASH but it also features a wall of visual and practical effects that just make me cheer every time I see it.
This sequel that doesn’t really have any coherence with the original, sees Ash having to fend off the Evil Dead after dismembering his possessed girlfriend Linda after passages of the book of the dead are played off a recording. When 4 people rock up to complete research on the Book of the Dead it’s yet another night of terror for Ash and his new guests. It’s kind of like a reboot but not, kind of like a sequel but doesn’t quite fit, kind of like a horror film but it’s so incredibly and intentionally tongue in cheek.
Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, Ivan Raimi and Bruce Campbell return to the shack that started it all for this all out boundary pusher low budget spectacular that gives Campbell that chance to show off his physical comedy and impeccable comic timing. This is one hell of a physical role and it’s like watching Bruce’s mates just make an excuse the belt the crap out of him for 85 minutes. There are strong homages to Jerry Lewis, The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers in Bruce’s Ash and considering the beatings he puts himself through it’s an inspired and much adored performance.
The visual effects range from fantastic stop motion animation, prosthetics, reverse shooting, wire work and puppetry. Add to that the nightmarish, exaggerated carnival atmosphere of the whole film loaded with gallons and gallons of multi coloured liquids (they couldn’t just use red or the film would’ve copped an X back in 87 – so you get red, black, yellow, green) and you’ve got yourself a cinematic classic.
There’s the flying eye, the demonic hair ripping head twister, Ash demon hand, talking taxidermy and a head in a vice just to name a few. Be sure to look in scenes where you can see the set with no roof above them, the massive tear in the arse of the demon mother prosthetic suit and the extension cords that do the lighting. It’s all in there. This is renegade, raucous film making at its best – and its a celebration of it. Instead of trying to hide the foibles Raimi and his team leave it all in there and man it just makes for a greater film.
Don’t dismiss EVIL DEAD II as just another old horror movie – it is truly so much more than that – this is one of the funniest, most insanely demented entertainments ever made and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN is out now on all formats