Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)
This weekend, we are taking a break from the obscure, the low-budget and the Coroner. As in, I’m taking over for a few days and I’m going to turn the focus of this daily feature toward my favorite sub-genre: horror comedy. And while Robert Fure did write about the entire Evil Dead franchise in one post last year, I just cannot let such aggression stand. These movies (especially this and tomorrow’s entry, Army of Darkness) deserve their own posts. So lets do this…
Synopsis: After spending a horrific night in the cabin from hell and having to fight off the demon-possessed bodies of his girlfriend, his sister and two of his best friends, Ash (Bruce Campbell) wakes up in the woods not far from where all the mayhem of The Evil Dead took place. And he still can’t get away. In this sequel/remake, Ash is found by the daughter of the professor who translated the Book of the Dead and her entourage, but must hole up in the cabin for one more night before they can finally escape the grasp of the Deadites.
Killer Scene: Ah, the chain saw. It is put to good use in this film. And by far the best way that it is used isn’t exactly in the hand of our hero, Ash. Instead, it is when a headless Deadite, the body of Ash’s once-lovely girlfriend Linda bursts into the shed where he’s about to dispose of her severed head and attacks him with the chainsaw. But Ash isn’t having any of that, as he grabs the headless body’s arms and flips the chainsaw over. This results in a few gallons of blood being spilled and a very sweet Deadite cut in half moment that is a deliciously grotesque as you’ll ever see.
Violence: As with the first Evil Dead film, there’s plenty of violence here. Bruce Campbell lays down his patented smirk while wielding a chainsaw, an axe and a shotgun to slowly, but surely decimate the agents of the dead, including his friends and even his own hand. Not to mention that gigantic tree-like thing that tries to eat him near the end. Nothing like a little gross-out violence, I always say.
Sex: The first Evil Dead film had a bit of skin in it, but nothing to write home about. This second movie, which garnered a bigger budget and a much wider release, didn’t up the ante with the boobage, sadly. Also, there’s no tree-rape. Sad times.
Scares: Sam Raimi uses a very soft score and at certain points silence to build to some very jumpy moments throughout the film, but most of the scariness of Evil Dead II rests in the shock and awe of its absurd gore. It will scare you almost as much as it will have you laughing deviously like a blood-covered Bruce Campbell.
Final Thoughts: There’s a scene early on in this movie in which Bruce Campbell, as Ash, finally almost succumbs to the will of this crazy, blood-soaked house. The deer head on the wall is talking, the outlets are bleeding and Ash is losing it. Without missing a beat, he bursts into laughter along with the rest of the house. It is one of the most brilliant and telling moments I’ve ever seen in a horror/comedy hybrid. This film, without a doubt, is one of the most fun horror movies ever created — which is why it’s a certified cult hit. And it deserves our time, and a full entry into the ever-growing assortment we call 31 Days of Horror.