Evil Dead II (1987)
July 28, 2015 8:56 PM - Subscribe

When friends Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell set out to turn their 1978 short Within the Woods into a full-length film on a shoestring budget, what they came up with was The Evil Dead; a nauseating film, sure, but also a thunderstorm in a bottle that managed to splice black comedy with innovative technique to make a hugely beloved cult horror mainstay. But how could anybody follow up such an apparent fluke with a sequel? Well, if you're Raimi and Campbell, you take another run at the same story, with the insanity turned up to 11, and in the process you practically invent a new genre of film.
posted by churl (12 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
To this day, the A Farewell to Arms gag remains my favorite bit of film comedy ever. I probably should have realized sooner that I was beginning my inevitable slide into Dad-humor.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 11:00 PM on July 28, 2015 [5 favorites]

Gack, I just realized I've never watched "Within the Woods". I didn't realize, but am not surprised, that it is up on YouTube. I think I know what I'm going tonight. Thanks!
posted by beowulf573 at 7:17 AM on July 29, 2015

Just try to count all the times Ash bumps his head. You can't even turn it into a drinking game because it happens too much.
posted by Catblack at 9:00 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

OMGOMGOMG this is my fave

or maybe in a tie with The Jerk, I'm not sure

Bruce Campbell is hammy as fuck, but it feels like 1/2 of this movie is just him and some props and he manages to make it so entertaining nearly all on his own. The guy is so thoroughly committed to the slapstick bits and it looks like it would have hurt a lot at times--he's basically a human cartoon character not even Jim Carey could match in this one. I guess he's pretty limited, but he seems to have done OK for himself since, being a professional cult figure and getting the odd smarmy roles here and there. The guy should never have to buy himself another beer for this one.

I also love the reverse and speed-manipulated smoke effects, the wheelbarrow cam, and the fucking vomit firehoses or whatever they had to shoot that much black and red crap all over the place. Raimi does a lot of schtick, but he can also be very effective at times. I'm sure if it were done today, the animal heads and demons etc would be CG and it would suffer for it. The special effects are exactly the type that was needed, cheap, effective, and campy. If Evil Dead II invented a genre, it also perfected it.
posted by Hoopo at 11:22 AM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just try to count all the times Ash bumps his head. You can't even turn it into a drinking game because it happens too much.

My friends and I tried exactly this in college, with the result that we had a very good knowledge of the first quarter or so of the movie and no memory of the second half.
posted by kewb at 2:38 PM on July 29, 2015 [1 favorite]

This film deserves every bit of praise it gets. This scene is amazing.
posted by infinitewindow at 5:46 PM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh my god, yes, the demonic deer-head laughing scene, it's amazing. I love the dutch angles and the bit with the lamp.
posted by whir at 10:00 PM on July 29, 2015

That scene was actually the first bit of Evil Dead 2 that I'd ever seen. I remember flipping through channels at home one night when I was about 13 or 14 (probably hoping to run into some random late-night nudity on cable) when I ran into the very beginning of the laughing scene. Devoid of the preceding context, the image of a blood-soaked man cackling maniacally while the entire room goes crazy around him is some super-disturbing, surreal stuff. I don't remember what I immediately flipped away to watch instead, but I'll bet you it wasn't nearly as good. It took me a while to become an "interesting" teen who was into cool movies, as I recall...
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:01 PM on July 30, 2015

My first exposure to Sam Raimi was watching Siskel & Ebert in 1987 reviewing this movie...I specifically remember them showing a clip of the "noises attack" scene with the weirdo lens on the camera. The shot of the clock with the blood splatter on it, the door flapping loudly against the clock body over and over stuck with me hard...All I knew was that this was that new movie with the skull on the poster, and now I wanted to see it. It took me a few years (I was only 9 in 1987 after all), but once I finally got to see Evil Dead II I was hooked for life.

I've liked (even loved) some of Raimi's larger-budget movies, but I think his sweet spot is right here, where his enthusiasm and creativity so outmatches the budgetary limitations that those limitations become a huge part of the movie's charm. I think (probably unpopularly) that even Army of Darkness was too large-scale...I feel like it's fine as a stand-alone, but a lot of the anarchic, duct-taped-togetherness of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II -- which is one of the main things that I really love about them -- is missing there in favor of slidewhistle Xena-style action silliness.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:46 AM on July 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just try to count all the times Ash bumps his head. You can't even turn it into a drinking game because it happens too much.

We were still a little too young to drink, but in middle school my friends and I tried to count the number of times Ash was hit in the head...I don't remember what the final total was, but I do remember discussion as to whether some hits should count...One example: Ash flying out of the front windshield of the Classic and landing face first in the dirt...Two hits (windshield plus dirt)? Or should the second hit not count since he doesn't really land squarely on his head?

We were* nerds.

* are
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:50 AM on July 31, 2015

In the Cut: Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 [self-link]
posted by churl at 3:36 AM on September 8, 2015

Okay, so I'm not into horror movies most of the time. I'm not into being scared, so the only ones I may watch are the relatively funny/ridiculous ones (Blair Witch, Summer Camp, Cabin in the Woods). I tried to drag through Evil Dead 1 years ago because people raved about Evil Dead 2, then got bored and shut it off and gave up on this plan.

Now here I am forcing myself to watch Evil Dead 2 because they do a live action version of this (with "splash zone") in my area that sells out every year, and I'll be honest, the only reason I'm seeing it on Friday is because one of my castmates is playing Ash this year and now we all have to run out and see it (separately because only stray single tickets were available at the time). I asked him if you have to have seen it before and he said not really, but you'll get more of the jokes. (Also he said, "we don't practice with the blood until the last night of tech week," which just sounds really weird to me.)

Honestly, I had the impression that this show was funny lulz and so far I'm just all...maybe I don't get what everyone else is into? Though one must admire Bruce Campbell's committing to the bit in beheading his girlfriend, cutting her head in half, and then having to cut off and fight his own hand. But I found myself neither scared nor laughing, just kinda...eh...???

...Yeah, I wanna know how they're going to stage the "get sucked into the giant face" thing on this tiny stage next week, though. Or the portal bit. (Seriously, this joint has a very small stage.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:08 PM on October 1, 2023

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