Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ten Statements About....EVIL DEAD 2 a.k.a. EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN (1987)

Remember...he's not laughing at you....he's just laughing...
"In 1300 AD they called this man the uh, 'hero from the sky'. He was prophesied to have destroyed the evil."
"He didn't do a very good job...."

1) You know what's brilliant about this film, and something very few people mentions?  This is the first Sam Raimi superhero origin film.  Bruce Campbell's Ash experiences a trauma, rises above it, takes command of his destiny, gains what amounts to super-powers and ends up fulfilling a prophecy.  It even has a 'suiting up' scene to represent Ash's transition into herodom!  The only reason we probably don't realize it's a super-hero film is because it's surrounded by this wacky haunted house/demon horror film!

2) I know there are some people who deride Bruce Campbell as a terrible actor (Hi, Kevin!), but this film really needed his physicality.  There are moments of extreme physical comedy, especially involving That Hand, that I can't envision another actor selling effectively.

3) And speaking of That Hand...I like how this film is blocked out so well that we forget entirely about it not once, but twice, creating these genuine shocks for the audience.  But then...

4) ...we are talking about a film so fast paced that the audience barely has time to breathe, let alone think about any plot holes.  Raimi barrels through the plot so fast that we're swept up in the insanity.  This is one of the few films I can confidently call a thrill ride because it never bothers to give us much of a lull.

A severed possessed hand is giving you the finger.
Your arguments are no longer valid.
5) I get that we're not dealing with Grade A actors in this film.  That being said, I do think that Sarah Berry's Annie doesn't quite work.  Her introduction and expository scenes are amongst the very few things that slows down the film, and she never quite convinces me that she's some archaeologist type.  Truth be told, I'm pretty sure she's only there because a) She's a big screamer and b) she looks a little bit of alright in those knee-high socks.

6) Bless Sam Raimi for insisting on using so much stop-motion animation.  Sure, some of it is kinda hinky (although the worst example--Linda's 'dance'--make up for it in its inventiveness), but it gives the film a distinctive flavor all its own...and as a devotee of Ray Harryhausen, I ate up every second of it.

7) In this world where even the slightest movie plot is stretched out to two hours, I am so glad this film is roughly eighty minutes in length.  It makes the constant barrage of gags and grue last just long enough we don't tire of it.

"Gee, your hair smells...edible!"
8) Boy, given everything that Sam Raimi puts his best friend and his brother through...well, I guess there's a price for loyalty.

9) Supposedly, the whole reworking of Evil Dead 1 in this one's first five or so minutes came from Raimi literally being unable to get the rights to use any original footage.  But all told, I think it works pretty well because the retread takes such a short time, and because Raimi is able to bring to bear on that sequence everything he learned in the intervening years.  And while this reshooting thing doesn't work as well when Raimi does it again in Army Of Darkness (mainly because it's hard to get away from the fact that Linda is being played there by Bridget Fonda), this time it gives us a cue that the story we're about to see may have a different tone and feel to the previous one.

10) And it's that tone that may make it unique--in a way, this is the film that reflects Raimi's sensibilities the truest.  It's got comic-book-y elements, lots of slapstick and lots of outrageous shocks and gore.  Everything that Raimi does in the future can be seen in the entrails of this film.

Overall...a classic little film that shows a great filmmaker in his embryonic stages.  Essential viewing if you're interested in horror or indie filmmaking.

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