Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn

1987, Movie, NR, 85 mins

Review

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Director Sam Raimi strikes again with this manic, and very funny, sequel to his stunningly inventive 1983 low-budget fever dream, THE EVIL DEAD. As in the first film, Raimi lets out all the stops and plays every cinematic trick in the book. Instead of "Dead by Dawn," the subtitle of this film should be "Help! There's a Camera Chasing Me!" Less a rehash than a remake; Ash (Bruce Campbell), the sole survivor of THE EVIL DEAD, seems to have no memory of that film's events. After a high-speed recap and continuation of first film's ending, Ash ventures out to that same lonely cabin for a romantic weekend with his girlfriend (Denise Bixler). There he discovers that darn tape recorder again. When the voice reads a translation of the "Book of the Dead," a vicious evil force awakens in the woods and rushes into the house, and all hell breaks loose once more.

A deliriously cinematic experience for those with a taste for Grand Guignol, this is a relentlessly energetic nightmare world where quite literally anything can happen--and does. By pushing the events to an absurd extreme, the film frequently leaves the realm of horror and becomes a cartoon gone mad. Animation director Tex Avery is a stronger influence here than the German Expressionists or modern masters of horror. Campbell's admirably straightfaced performance suggests a modern-day Harold Lloyd trapped in a splatter film spinning madly out of control. He gamely tries to cope with everything the evil spirits hurl at him including bleeding walls, scary monsters, flying eyeballs, a possessed hand, and all manner of bad craziness.

To keep things interesting, the then 26-year-old director employs a panoply of expressive movie tricks including stop-motion animation, impossible point-of-view shots, portentous crane shots, shaky handheld camera sequences, rotating sets, rear projection, distorting anamorphic lenses, weird sound effects and good old-fashioned dramatic lighting. The film is a breathless celebration of the possibilities of the medium. "Good" dramatic narrative values hold little interest for Raimi. The setting and story are merely functional, and most of the dialogue is perfunctory. Maximum visceral impact is what this film is all about--and it delivers. leave a comment

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Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn
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