It’s hard to go into this without preconceptions; mine were that it would probably be an entirely pointless remake and that it wouldn’t work without Bruce Campbell (who only appears in a superfluous fleeting post-credits cameo for fan service purposes). As it happened, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, so perhaps low expectations are the way to go. It has some pretty over-the-top bits, which is what you want from an Evil Dead movie, but they don’t have the humorous undertones that made the original trilogy work. In place of humour there’s the bland creepiness and shocking visuals that are so common in contemporary horror movies. The performances are passable at best, and some of the character/relationship beats miss their mark. Ultimately, while it was successful in that it gave me some scares and wasn’t the complete dud it could so easily have been, I’m still not convinced it was worth making this rather than an original horror film, and I prefer the first two Raimi/Campbell movies.
Is there anything funnier than a skeleton finger yanking Ash by the nose? (Did anyone else answer ‘yes, almost anything’?)
The weakest instalment in the Evil Dead trilogy, I give Sam Raimi points for ambition but he loses them for shoddy execution. It seems bizarre that the sequel to a pair of cabin-in-the-woods horror movies should be a medieval quest comedy, but in some ways it kind of works. It is, however, often very silly – and not in a good way. It’s also got the lamest plot of the trilogy. I love the totally inconsistent use of Flowery Elizabethan English, e.g. “When thou retrievest the book from its cradle, you must recite the words…”. Many locations look more like we’re watching a western than a medieval movie. It’s also not clear where Ash learnt swordplay, leadership, battle tactics, or how to make gunpowder. Plot holes? Surely not!
Sing it with me: “There ain’t no way to hide your flyin’ eyes…”
The best film in the franchise, this one is funny and scary and gross, all in just the right proportions. Bruce Campbell is perfect, bringing Ash to a new level. It’s the Evil Dead II Ash that we all remember; it’s here that he really gets his mojo (plus his chainsaw arm and boomstick), and it’s here that he best delivers the catchphrases he’s known for (all of which were later ripped off by 3D Realms in the video game Duke Nukem 3D). Big chunks of the movie feature him on his own (apart from demon/s, possessed hands, etc.), which is not a bad thing. So many great scenes; I think my favourite is Ash vs. his hand (still attached at that point). The biggest flaw of the film is that the final act is mostly used to set up the weak third instalment, Army of Darkness, instead of providing a satisfying stand-alone ending.
The film that kicked off the Evil Dead saga is rough around the edges but full of memorable moments and gruesome visuals. The basic premise is now so familiar but would presumably have seemed original at the time. Sam Raimi uses lots of imaginative camera angles and shots, including of course the oft-imitated ‘shaky cam’ representing the fast-moving demonic point of view. Bruce Campbell is perfectly cast as Ash and doesn’t take long to make the role his own, creating one of the horror genre’s most iconic (and amusing) characters. The balance of horror and comedy is a little off in this one; Raimi was still learning his craft at this point, and didn’t get that particular balance right until the sequel six years later. Notably, one of the Coen brothers (Joel, to be precise) served as an assistant editor and learned a thing or two. If you think you’re a horror fan and you haven’t seen this, well, you’re not really a horror fan, are you?