EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN and ARMY OF DARKNESS. A FLESH-EATING DOUBLE REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN. 1987. DIRECTED BY SAM RAIMI. WRITTEN BY SAM RAIMI AND SCOTT SPIEGEL. STARRING BRUCE CAMPBELL AND TED RAIMI.
ARMY OF DARKNESS. 1992. DIRECTED BY SAM RAIMI. WRITTEN BY SAM RAIMI AND IVAN RAIMI. STARRING BRUCE CAMPBELL, EMBETH DAVIDTZ AND BRIDGET FONDA.
When I watched THE EVIL DEAD for the first time, after first forcing myself to overcome a lifelong fear of zombies, it totally blew me away. It was by far and away the best ‘cabin-in-the-woods’-style horror film I’d ever seen in my life, bar none. Bar none. Capiche? Haha, I’m sure you totally capiche. You’ve all seen it yourselves.
It was just so good. It has everything. Evil woods that rape people, a spooky log cabin with a haunted cellar and the scariest zombies I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen about- let me see- six zombie films. Anyway, I was so impressed I rushed right out and bought a boxset containing all three films in the EVIL DEAD trilogy for a reasonable enough seventeen euros and ninety-nine cents.
After watching the two sequels, I won’t say I was disappointed in case I get lynched by Sam Raimi fans, but I’ll tentatively suggest that they weren’t what I was expecting. For one thing, they’re both comedies, and I was hoping for pure evil, the kind of malicious nasty horror we got in the first film.
Ash was different too, having morphed from just a regular guy with balls and brains to some kind of bulked-up, tooled-up superhero with a chainsaw for a right hand and a shotgun he calls his ‘boomstick’ in his other mitt. He’s sexy and sweaty and decidedly hunky, though, and he’s certainly proactive, fighting zombies and skeletons and God knows what else all on his lonesome.
EVIL DEAD 2 sees Ash back in the cabin from the original film, battling the Evil Force with the help of Annie, the daughter of the archaeology professor whose voice we hear on the haunted audiotape, reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis or the Book Of The Dead. Never a good idea, that.
Ted Raimi does a top job as Possessed Henrietta, Annie’s mother and the Professor’s late wife, who was buried in the cellar by her hubby after she became possessed and he was presumably forced to kill her. Great excuse for offing your spouse, that. ‘I’m sorry, Officer, but he/she was totally possessed! I had no choice but to brain him/her with the scalding hot iron, honest…!’
Possessed Henrietta is probably the best thing about this sequel. The woods are still evil and atmospheric, but less so. They don’t even rape anyone this time around, heh-heh-heh. Even when it looks like they’re going to, they don’t. It’s a false alarm. I know I should be pleased that we’ve apparently stamped out arboreal rape in our lifetime, but it don’t half liven up a film, haha.
ARMY OF DARKNESS sees our hero Ash transported back in time to the Middle Ages, in the time of the knights of old, etc. The main thing he does in this film is search for the famous Necronomicon (that bloody book again!), which will help him to get back to his own time.
Naturally, his quest is fraught with hilarious and occasionally baffling obstacles, such as tiny clones of himself beating the living shite out of him in a windmill. See? Utterly baffling… Shades of The Three Stooges in these scenes, by the way.
He also battles the titular Army Of Darkness, a group of fantastic fighting skeletons reminiscent of Ray Harryhausen’s unforgettable sword-fighting skelly-bones in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963). The winged Deadites, also, are extremely Harryhausen-esque. Sam Raimi was clearly a big fan of the all-time master of stop-motion animation and his tribute is lovely to see.
The big bust-up between the humans and the skeletons at the end of the film totally foreshadows THE LORD OF THE RINGS by nearly a decade. The Battle of Helm’s Deep in THE TWO TOWERS, the second film in the blockbusting trilogy, could have been modelled on the battle scenes in ARMY OF DARKNESS. I’m not accusing anyone of anything, haha. I’m just saying, that’s all.
And remember Aragorn and his Army Of The Dead, rushing in to save the day at the end of the third LOTR film? An army of dead folks? Again, I’m just saying, is all. Maybe Sam Raimi was a Tolkien fan. Nearly everyone is, after all. And does anyone else think that Ash looks a lot like Sam Malone from CHEERS, aka Ted Danson, or am I the only one…?
Anyway, I’m not saying I didn’t like these two sequels or that they’re not good or anything like that. I was just hoping for more zombies, that’s all. There’s nothing wrong in hoping for zombies in what I thought was a trilogy of zombie flicks, heh-heh-heh. The third, especially, is more of an action/adventure movie and, as a woman, I nearly always hate those kind of films.
It seems a tiny bit like Sam Raimi was indulging himself, as well, especially in the third film. It’s like he’s saying: ‘I want a vortex, right, and knights of old and a bottomless pit, and I want winged creatures and a haunted book and a car and a castle with turrets and stuff, oh, and yeah, I’ll have some of those skeleton warriors as well, and where the hell is that kid with my bagel, people…? I’m wasting away over here!’
It’s every guy’s wet dream. No-one will ever convince me it’s not. Not even if they tie me down and tickle me, and that’s my one weakness. Oops, probably shouldn’t have said that. It might be taken down and used against me…
Ah well. It’s all good, weird fun. And a trilogy of cult films to boot. ‘Nuff said.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
9) THE DEVIANTS
10) VISITING DAY