The Evil Dead franchise will always have a very special place in my heart. When I was getting into the horror genre, I was used to more "polished" flicks like Child's Play 2 or Halloween H20, so when I managed to watch The Evil Dead, I had never seen anything like it. There was a raw, gritty, low-budget power to that movie that I had never seen before, and really paved the way to my future love of obscure films. A while later, I saw Evil Dead 2, and I loved it even more. So after my VHS was worn down and my DVD got scratched to Hell, I was giddy with joy when a 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray was announced, with new HD picture and loads of new special features. Does this release live up to the hype or is it an unworthy treatment of such a clasc film?
Evil Dead 2 1987
Plot (from back cover): After a relaxing cabin vacation doesn't go as planned, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is left with three dead friends, an undead girlfriend and an angry evil spirit on the loose. As nightfall approaches, Ash must prepare to again battle the legions of the damned if he wants to make it to dawn.
Welcome to EVIL DEAD II, director Sam Raimi's infamous second film in his gleefully gory, cult clasc EVIL DEAD franchise - starring Bruce Campbell as the most lethal and groovy hero in horror movie history! Now presented in a stunning new 1080P HD transfer with over four hours of special features, this 25th Anniversary Edition of EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN will leave you gasping for more
One expreson that seems to be floating around in the horror realm when discusng sequels is "It's no Evil Dead 2," and with good reason. This movie is fantastic. Whereas the first was very serious, the sequel is incredibly lly, takes the concept as a joke, and runs with it. In a way, it bears a large milarity to the first two Texas Chainsaw Massacre films, even though that sequel doesn't get the respect it deserves. The acting was appropriately corny, especially from Bruce Campbell, who hams it up like you wouldn't believe. The rest are also exceptional, and while each of them are all in some ridiculous tuation, they play it straight-faced and it just makes the whole experience more enjoyable.
Like I said, director Sam Raimi has gone down ridiculous street with everything. Various colors of blood spray everywhere (particularly at Campbell), Ash's possessed severed hand continuously torments him, every object in the cabin begin laughing at Ash (including a deer head and a lamp), the evil force manifests itself in the flesh and actually looks quite impresve, and more batshit greatness. The effects were handled by FX wizards Greg Nicotero, Howard Berger, and Mark Shostrom, and as you would expect, they look amazing for such a low-budget effort. The camera tricks are superb, with all sorts of inventive shots like "the unseen force", a POV shot of an unseen, demonic force.
Evil Dead 2 is a rare sequel that manages to go above and totally beyond the original. Instead of making a serious follow-up to a successful indie feature, Raimi decides to give the audience something totally new, and it works. The acting is great, the effects are mind-blowing, there are some really hilarious moments, and there are surpringly some creepy sequences. Bedes, how often in a movie can you see a guy with a chainsaw for a hand? Yes, that happens and it's awesome, which makes Ash completely worthy of his cult status. And Hell, even Roger Ebert likes this movie!
The Verdict: Evil Dead 2 is one of the best horror movies of all time, and certainly one of the most fun films of all time. Highly recommended for any occaon.
TRANSFER & AUDIO:
The box states that this Blu-Ray sports a 1080P HD-transfer in 1.85:1, which is supposedly much better than the previous Starz Blu-Ray release. I haven't seen the previous Blu-Ray, so I can't really compare the two, but the transfer here is incredible. Let me just say that if a person who has seen a film multiple times in the past notices new things due to a Blu-Ray transfer, that transfer needs to be seen, and that is the case here. The picture can mply be described as stunning, and even though grain is vible, the colors and textures have never been so vivid. In fact, while I was watching it, it felt as if I was watching it for the first time, and I got that same amazed feeling I got when I first saw it.
The audio is also astonishingly crisp and clear, with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that works wonders with the film. Dialogue, screams, and "the unseen force" are all heard with great clarity that should please even the most stubborn audiophile.
Audio Commentary: Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Scott Spiegel, and Greg Nicotero discuss the film. This is a great audio commentary! Everyone is making jokes (particularly Campbell and Raimi) and giving lots of information as the film goes along. It's my favorite type of audio commentary (humorous and informative), and goes up on my list of favorite AC"s, right next to the audio commentary for The Beyond.
Swallowed Souls: A seven-part documentary chronicling the making of the film, the effects, the cinematography, the actors, and even on Sam Raimi. Spanning at about an hour and a half, this is a truly informative documentary that even the most avid Evil Dead 2 fan will appreciate, and even supplies us with information that even I had not heard before. Usually I would expect a company like Synapse or Blue Underground to go all out with the featurettes, so this came as a surprise to me that Lionsgate has taken the time to think about the fans and deliver one hell of a documentary on everything you'd want to know.
Cabin Fever: A segment showing the make-up department making each of the various creatures (or deadites) in the film. This is also pretty informative and entertaining, and we even get some deleted scenes at the end with a shot of some "blood bladders" on Campbell, Linda's demonic tongue entering Ash's mouth, Ed's extended death, and more.
Road to Wadesboro: A journey back to the shooting locations of the cabin exteriors and interiors. Like in any episode of Horror's Hallowed Grounds, it's fascinating just to see what has become of the old cabin and the gym they shot the interiors at.
Behind-The-Screams: Taken from the Anchor Bay release, this is a series of photos in a slideshow and being narrated by Tom Sullivan, who worked in the animation department of the film. Everything shown in the slideshow had been covered in the featurettes, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless.
The Gore The Merrier: A compilation of videos Greg Nicotero shot behind the scenes of the make-up department, along with a few clips of Nicotero, Berger, and Robert Kurtzman discusng the making of the effects. While this was also taken from the Anchor Bay release, I still enjoyed seeing them behind the scenes and seeing what fun they had while making it. We also get to see a short they shot as a joke called Evil Dead Baby.
Theatrical Trailer: Just as it sounds. Check it out below.
Still Galleries: A couple nice galleries with your bac images: behind-the-scenes, stills, and promotional elements.
Evil Dead 2 is and always will remain a true clasc in the horror genre. Where the first was a slow-build horror, this wastes no time getting to the meat of things and doesn't take the material seriously. It embraces the ridiculousness of the premise and injects some hilarious Three Stooges-esque humor into the mix, turning it into a successful horror-comedy. Lionsgate has spared no expense in releang it on a quintessential Blu-Ray release for any horror fan. The picture quality is mply out of this world, even though there is grain vible, but even I noticed some things I hadn't noticed before. The audio is also impresve, even though I'm not much for judging that. Now, ordinarily, I woiuld have been (kind of) satisfied with just this, but piling on four hours of special features just sweetens the deal! I loved how Campbell and Raimi ham it up like no time has passed nce the making of the film, and the special features are exceptionally well-done. And do you want to know something awesome? It's available now at most retail stores for only $10. That's right, all this for that bargain price you'd normally expect to see on a DVD for something like The Majorettes. Well, what are you waiting for? Go buy this NOW.