The Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Sam Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Ted Raimi

Synopsis: Ash is back, and so is the Book of the Dead.   That means more nasties being transported into our living world.   With Linda dead, and Ash fearing possession, he has a one man stand-off against other-worldly creatures.   That is until the daughter of the archaeologist the found the book comes knocking, along with her hick guides (read; fodder for the nasties outside).

I am sticking with the horror theme of the last few posts, and if you are a fan of horror, how can you not be a fan of The Evil Dead series?   Indeed, when the event organisers at The Nightmare Returns invited attendees to suggest guest stars for future events, the loudest cheer was given to the suggestion of Bruce Campbell.   It is with this film that we really start to see the Bruce Campbell that fans love world-wide… not the scared kid from the first film pushed to extremes, but the maniacal, delightfully OTT Campbell with the arched eyebrow that seems to go higher every time you look.

Like most horror franchises from the ’80s, the segue from the last film to this was not smooth.   This would clearly have a lot to do with the fact that in the last instalment, the threat was defeated, so a way must be found to bring back the antagonist.   Clear examples are the films following Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.   Both these films were promoted as the end of Freddy and Jason respectively.   Both series had many more films left in them each, including a cross-over between the two.

In the case of Evil Dead 2, the opening minutes are spent retelling the first film in greatly abridged form.   The most significant difference here is that *SPOILER ALERT* Ash never destroys the Book of the Dead.    Despite this difference though, one can consider this film a true sequel in every other respect, even providing us a follow-on from the final scare of the first film.   The majority of the opening half of the film is all Ash responding to the events around him.   This leads to classic Campbell over-acting, which is epic in its awesomeness.   He just totally flips out, and it is so much fun to watch.   All the seeds are also sewn such that the evolution of the iconic chainsaw hand is established.   In some respects, the film slows with the introduction of new characters to the cabin.   However it builds to an awesome, and surprisingly unpredictable conclusion.

A lot of the special effects are clear products of their time.   They are certainly in many respects more ambitious that anything tried in the first film.   By modern standards however, they can be a little less convincing.   There is an art to the visuals Raimi creates though, and looking at this film through the lens of time is quite easy as a result.   The effect which I did love, however, was largely a result of Campbell gold, with his own hand being the possessed special effect.   I was wiping away tears of laughter while loving every second of it.

With the first sequel to his own film, Raimi kept a great level of tension, whilst also recognising the potential humour in the concept.   These elements work very well together, neither detracting from the other.   I concur with my fellow fans from the convention on Sunday… Sam Raimi, please stick with horror.   There are too few good directors in the genre in modern days!!

4 stars out of 5


The Evil Dead 2 on IMDB

The Evil Dead 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=]

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