Director Sam Raimi’s 1987 film, Evil Dead 2 is a rollercoaster of cinematic energy. It’s a live action Looney Tunes adventure, a balls-out crazy physical comedy extravaganza which just happens to be a horror sequel.
Raimi’s follow-up to 1981’s The Evil Dead, is effectively a remake of that movie with the same rough plot and star (Bruce Campbell). It’s a haunted house in the woods piece, where a young couple discover The Book of the Dead, a tome which unleashes the forces of evil, killing the woman and turning her into a walking corpse. And that’s only the start of things.
Evil Dead 2 is filled with kinetic energy. It’s a live action cartoon, where Raimi’s camera is virtually a character that floats, whizzes, flies and shoots through the mysterious woods and creepy cabin. It’s a powerfully assured piece of filmmaking from a director who only had a few films under his belt. It is Raimi’s use of camera work which helps make Evil Dead 2 stand-out from a million other cheap and cheerful 1980s horror films. It’s a technique that would lead to hundreds of millions of dollars and a career as a blockbuster director for Raimi when he helmed the Spider-Man films. Another thing which makes this horror sequel stand-out is the committed performance by star Bruce Campbell. Campbell’s physical performance is yet another high-energy addition to the film, and he’s tossed and thrown around like a rag doll. It might not be Oscar-friendly, but it sure is memorable.
Movies become cult favourites for a reason and it’s easy to see how Evil Dead 2 captured the hearts and minds of genre fans. The film’s adulation has continued with its 1992 follow-up Army of Darkness and belated spin-off TV series, Ash Vs The Evil Dead. The effects are gory (but comically so) and the thrills are fast and loose. In a word: groovy.