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Evil Dead II (1987)

This is my first ever watch of Evil Dead 2 and I remember being so confused just 10 minutes in as to what was going on. How does this any connection to The Evil Dead, why is Linda back? And why would anybody return back to this cabin? At this point I had to pause the film and message a friend who is well versed in The Evil Dead franchise and he told me to look at this as a soft reboot and not a sequel. I then took what he said on board, restarted the film and sat back for one of the most enjoyable watches of my horror cinema journey. I cannot begin to tell you how many times throughout this films run time that I genuinely laughed out loud. There is so much here that feels catered perfectly to my taste in horror. From the precisely balanced ratio of horror and comedy to the absolutely mesmerising B-movie style practical effects works. The moment I saw the car miniature driving across the miniature set I knew what kind of ride I was in for and my excitement immediately peaked. The decision made by Raimi to change the tone of this sequel is certainly a positive for me. This is a much more comedy driven film in comparison to the first and with the directional choices he makes here it certainly feels better suited. He once again used his POV perspective of the Deadites only this time to a much more complex level. The scene where the camera is following Ash through the cabin smashing through doors in order to escape is incredibly well done. It's moments like this that show his capabilities as a director and the reason why he would later take on such big productions. I think this is the installment that is so closely associated with some of the more iconic shots and images to come from this franchise. For instance, it's nice to finally see how Ash so famously looses his hand and gains a chainsaw replacement along with his 'boomstick' and full costume. This also gave us the incredibly well done make up work of Deadite Ash, something I'd always seen toys and collectibles of but never quite understood how that would have played into the films plot at all. It's very clear from the beginning that this is very much the Bruce Campbell show. Without question, he single-handedly carries this film. Granted, there are a few other characters here and there but they are solely there to provide a different direction for Bruce to take his character. This is his film and what he does with it is truly mesmerising to watch. I have seen a few episodes of Ash Vs The Evil Dead and I have to say I didn't think too much to the slapstick and zany essence of his character in those episodes, making me quite apprehensive about watching this. Thankfully that is not the case here. I don't think I could imagine this being done better. The puppetry and stop motion animation are what make this film as entertaining as it is for me. The stop motion effects work on Lisa when she rises from the dead are extremely dated but I honestly don't think I would want it any other way. I have an enormous sense of love and nostalgia for effects works like these, so to see them done with a sense of awareness as they fully embrace that b-movie standard only amplified my appreciation of this film. The make up and prosthetics of the deadites is certainly a step up from the first, having a much more detailed and easily associated look, as apposed to the makeup effects we see in part one. I must admit I did struggle at first with the jarring expectation of this being a continuation of the first film. But once that passed and I settled in for the ride I was truly blown away. It is a relentless, non-stop visual marvel. It has remarkable pacing. From the moment the opening in credits roll, it doesn't stop to take a breath and it's very rare to find a film that is so consistently entertaining throughout. I'm disappointed in myself for not seeing this sooner. So if you haven't ticked this one off the list, I strongly recommend you see this sooner rather than later.


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