Evil Dead II (1987)
Director: Sam Raimi
Writers: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel
Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Classic "go to abandoned cabin in the woods and bad things happen" style of movie starring Bruce Campbell, who reprises his role as Ash Williams. Technically more of a reboot than a sequel, the movie follows Ash and his love interest back to the little cabin in the woods where another reading from "The Book of the Dead" makes things rather interesting for its new inhabitants.
Honestly, if you can't watch this movie and have a freakin' blast doing so.... I don't know what is wrong with you. For starters, don't take yourself or the movie so seriously... life, and this movie, are better that way. Raimi takes the concept of the original film and sort of reboots it (which can be a little confusing upon first view). It's basically the original Evil Dead on steroids. The result is a MORE intense version of the original where Ash is now solely in control of the screen time, which is a marvelous thing.
It's almost like Raimi and his writers are sitting in a room thinking, "How much ridiculously awesome stuff can we throw on the screen? Okay, yeah... let's do all of this!". It's brilliant. He leaves nothing on the table and the result is a wild, wacky movie with a frenetic pace. You just have no idea where he is going to take you next and it's a hoot. Also, the fact that he centers the movie around Bruce Campbell was a wise decision and ultimately makes it comparable to the original. If a different casting decision is made, this one is likely forgotten and Army of Darkness never happens.
Well, the fact that it's basically a retelling of the original story (or maybe "re-imagined" is a better way of saying it) is a cop out of sorts. Most would think a sequel (thus the name of "Evil Dead II") would pick up where we all left off, but no. Raimi instead revisits old stomping grounds. If he had failed to come up with new ideas, this would be a big problem, but thankfully, the acting of Campbell and the wild imagination of Raimi save this movie and honestly, make it very comparable in quality to the original - which from me, is high praise for the sequel.
Some of the special effects are tad out of date, sure... but the fact that the film is a little more black comedy versus straight-up horror helps the film date a little better. The characters not named "Ash" are pretty boring as well. Or maybe it is just that they are overshadowed by Campbell's performance. Either way, this tends to bog down the later parts of the movie a bit. Again, this is probably nit-picking because you really don't have time to think about the misses, because not only are there so many more hits, but because the pacing is so good. There's nary a dull moment in this one.
Speaking of Campbell's performance... it is one of the all-time greats. In a vacuum of performances, Campbell's is truly Oscar-worthy, which many might think is a ridiculous thought. Still, I can't think of a single "A-lister" that could do what he did and bring more value within the confines of this particular role and genre. In fact, Bruce Campbell IS the movie! Watching him slowly go insane is one of cinema's true pleasures. Campbell lays it all on the line and not for a minute does he disappoint. His catapult to cult status is no coincidence. It was well earned.
I suppose you could go back and forth about which Evil Dead movie is the best and I suspect most would ultimately point to the original. Fair assessment, because it's been endlessly ripped off within the horror genre since Raimi first brought us to that little cabin in the woods. But Evil Dead II definitely stands on its own and has a special place in our hearts right next to the original. If you are ready for a fun, gory popcorn flick featuring Bruce Campbell at his best, this is the movie for you!