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Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry
Director: Sam Raimi
Rated: R
RunTime: 85 Minutes
Release Date: April 1987
Genres: Horror, Cult

*Also starring: Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Theodore Raimi, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier

Review by Jim VanFleet
4 stars out of 4

Sequel. That word has a general definition formed by the public and critical audiences alike. "Sequel - a remake of a film designed to cash in on the popularity of the initial film." Sequels generally are far inferior to the originals. Back to the Future 2, Nightmare on Elm Street 2, even The Godfather 2 are saddled with that definition. For the most part, that statement is accurate (I Know What You Did Last Summer, anyone?). However, sequels can also try new ideas, improve on their predecessors, and even become classics. Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn is such a film.

From the opening, we know we're getting a different kind of film. The Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) has been lost for hundreds of years. It resurrects demon souls from their graves; these demons wreak havoc on the living. Go figure that smart-aleck Ash (Bruce Campbell) is our savior. Isn't it bad enough that in the first seven minutes, they go to a cabin, play a recording, resurrect the demons, let Ash's girfriend get infested, he lops off her head with a shovel, buries her, and staggers back to the house? If you have trouble tolerating violence, maybe you should watch Wizard of Oz.

Sam Raimi, who has also directed Army of Darkness, Darkman, and The Gift, seems to delight in showing us new ideas and unseen images. In this film, a man chops off his hand, a skeleton dances in the forest, a moose head laughs, and a flying demon loses its head. The beauty in this film is that it is more than a horror film. It is also a comedy (albeit one of the most disgusting ones ever filmed). Consider a scene when Ash is grabbed by his dead girlfriends' arms and repeatedly pulled into a board. It plays more like something from the Three Stooges than from The Hills Have Eyes. There are many other scenes that demonstrate this split personality of sorts. The script itself is relatively simple, with some real standouts in dialogue: "Even now we have your darling Linda's soul!" "You're going down!" There is one unforgettable scene where Ash rids himself of his demonic hand, then puts it in a pail, and covers the pail with books, and - but I digress. The remaining splendor of the film comes in odd camera angles, new methods of point-of-view, and special effects. While not especially expensive, the movie had me convinced 90% of the time. Also, what many Evil Dead fans love most is that roaming camera, running after people, as they see it and try to outrun it. There are so many ideas and inventions in this film that it deserves a place in horror movie history. Few horror films rise above the depravity that other films of the sort wallow in. This, along with Dawn of the Dead and Scream 2, is a horror sequel that leaves its great original in the dust. With classy direction, revolting horror, and uncontrollable humor, Sam Raimi has fashioned one of the best horror films of all time, one that is, in one simple word, "Groovy."

Copyright 2001 Jim VanFleet

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