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Evil Dead 2 Dead by Dawn review

Evil Dead 2 Dead by Dawn poster
Evil Dead 2 Dead by Dawn

By Josh Brewer, March 11, 2016, at 12:07 a.m., @theJWBrewer


Title: Evil Dead 2
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer(s): Sam Raimi, Scott Speigel
Release Date: March 13, 1987
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier, Ted Raimi

Evil Dead 2 Cliff’s Notes

S-mart employee Ash takes his girlfriend, Linda, to a cabin in the woods. There, he accidentally awakens an evil force that threatens to destroy not only him, but the world as well.

Lecture

Mixing horror and humor has long been a tricky task. Sure, there are a few that manage to pull it off (Scream, TCM, and the recent The Cabin in the Woods come to mind) but most often this is a road strewn with the corpses of those who fail. Often, these films struggle to find the right balance, suffering from non-horrific horror or non-comedic comedy. Some manage to suck at both. Plus, most horror films don’t have a cast that can support comedy and horror at the same time. That certainly isn’t the issue here!

While not as horrifically intense as its predecessor, Evil Dead 2 manages to find a perfect blend of supernatural craziness and screwball comedy. Once the middle block of this puppy hits, a manic energy takes over and the pure zaniness can’t be stopped. You want crazy possessions? Got ‘em! Self-mutilations? On tap! Chainsaw action? In spades! The pure, comedic aspirations of the middle block of this film are totally unique for a horror film. And unique, in this case, means crazy awesome!

Leading the way through all of this is The Chin himself, Bruce Campbell. In every scene, Campbell plays Ash to the hilt. His possessed demon Ash is astonishing, his hand acting fantastic, and his not-so-reluctant-badass-demon-hunter is a hoot and a half. Campbell, it seems, is so inherently connected to the role that, for one of the few times in horror, he is completely irreplaceable. In countless horror films and franchises, actors are seemingly forgotten from the roles they play, as if somehow the existence of horror should replace any connection we may have to the characters. Not here. Here we get the ultimate horror hero.

Acting

The supporting cast is all solid, even if the script An acting example from Evil Dead 2sometimes betrays them. My personal favorite is Dan Hicks’ Jake. He seems to match the chaotic energy of the events around him with ease. Sarah Berry’s Annie is also good, the script tries really hard to not like her, but by the end the actor has taken over and I was sorry to see her go. Oh, and Bruce is awesome. Beyond awesome. I still smile whenever I see him.

Directing

Raimi is in full swing here. The manic energy, the groovy angles, and the out there imagery are downright fantastic. His pacing is a touch uneven, the first half flows beautifully while the second is a little more choppy, but over all this puppy moves at a brisk pace that matches its comedy styling perfectly. Dude also deserves props for getting the absolute most out of his creative team. The flick looks amazing.

Script

While the film is insanely quotable, the script does suffer a little bit. Parts of the exposition seem a little heavy handed, and the series of events do occasionally lead to a brief lull here and there. That being said, the comedy is handled very well, and the iffy straight dialogue is often immediately forgotten once the shenanigans start back up.

Effects

It also really helps that the creative team behind Raimi is top notch.The creature designs are incredible, I love Evil Ed, and the physical effects are fantastic. Same can be said about the lighting and sound design. All grade A! But the real showboat is the Art Direction. It effortlessly mixes the cabin locale with a type of surrealist nightmare: talking animals, possessed hands, and the greatest rocking chair around!

Highlights

Any bit that involves Ash alone in the cabin. Put comedy/horror gold.

Lowlights

The occasional dumb horror movie character choice makes an appearance. It’s not too awful, but still annoying.

Final Thoughts

I really grove to the first half of this flick. The second half, while still incredibly solid, is a touch less fun, if just for the reason that it becomes a touch more traditional. Still, this is a horror classic for all the right reasons.

Grade: A-

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