As opposed to the first film where it began with a group of friends, ‘Evil Dead 2’ begins with Ash going to an abandoned cabin in the woods with his girlfriend Linda. However, after finding a tape recording that unleashes the evil dead (or deadites) that can possess the living, Ash finds himself fighting for his life along with a journalist researching a book of evil (Annie, played by Sarah Berry) and hillbillies Jake and Bobby Joe (Dan Hicks and Kassie Wesley DePaiva). Whereas ‘The Evil Dead’ leans more towards horror, and ‘Army of Darkness’ is more comedy, ‘Evil Dead 2’ is, as far as I’m concerned, possibly the best example of how to combine the two perfectly.
Raimi mixes slapstick and dark humour with the scares, creating an absurd atmosphere that he has since managed to recreate in ‘Drag Me to Hell’ (2009) that remains just as entertaining with every viewing. However, none of this could have worked half as well if Bruce Campbell hadn’t been cast as Ash. Although in the first film he doesn’t seem to particularly stand out amongst the group, Campbell really manages to come into his own in this film and find his feet (not always literally, however, as he’s always falling over), and brings an incredible physicality to the role. He was clearly dedicated and not afraid to throw himself around for the sake of art.
As for the special effects, a lot of people seem to find them outdated, however I think that the stop motion mixed in with the live action adds a certain charm, and also heightens the sense of absurdity in the film as a whole. I of course couldn’t go without also mentioning Raimi’s dynamic camerawork – most people have heard of the iconic ‘Evil Dead shot’ of the camera gliding through the woods towards the cabin, searching for victims, and that’s just for starters. It all goes to show the knack for visual style that he’s always had from the beginning of his career, and that a low budget and difficult filming process couldn’t trump his passion and talent for filmmaking.
Overall, I think this is not only one of the best horror films of all time, but one of the best films period. What was achieved from ‘The Evil Dead’ when it was so difficult to finance and film was already incredible, but to go on and make an even better sequel that would be loved and appreciated by the horror community for generations is another thing. It’s a brilliant display of how every element of filmmaking is important – from the acting, editing, directing, script, sound design etc – and doing all these things well together can elevate the experience for the audience to another level.