This high-octane semi-sequel to Sam Raimi's cult hit The Evil Dead has nearly eclipsed its predecessor's reputation thanks to an endless barrage of hyperkinetic camera acrobatics, rapid-fire editing and "splatstick" gore effects ... not to mention a truly goofy performance by Bruce Campbell. Nearly the entire storyline of the previous film has ...
This high-octane semi-sequel to Sam Raimi's cult hit The Evil Dead has nearly eclipsed its predecessor's reputation thanks to an endless barrage of hyperkinetic camera acrobatics, rapid-fire editing and "splatstick" gore effects ... not to mention a truly goofy performance by Bruce Campbell. Nearly the entire storyline of the previous film has been re-shot and presented in a drastically condensed form within the first few minutes: rock-jawed but clueless "hero" Ash (Campbell) now visits the mountain cabin only with girlfriend Linda (played here by Denise Bixler). Upon arrival at the cabin, Ash discovers the Sumerian Book of the Dead, the ritual dagger and a reel-to-reel tape containing the professor's translations of the book's hieroglyphics. The incantations summon an unseen, growling spirit from within the woods, which bursts into the cabin and takes possession of Linda's soul. Ash is forced to decapitate her with a shovel, after which he buries her in the forest. At first dawn, Ash tries to make his escape, but is promptly set upon by the spirits, given a solid thrashing and nearly possessed himself, saved only by the arrival of sunlight. Cut off from the outside world, Ash is forced to hole up in the cabin and wait for the next demonic onslaught -- which arrives sooner than expected, led by Linda's rotting corpse. After being bitten by Linda's chatty decapitated head, Ash's hand becomes independent of his body and begins pummeling him repeatedly. The story then jumps to a local airport, where the professor's daughter Annie (Sarah Berry) and her partner Ed Getley (Richard Domeier) have just arrived with the missing pages to the Necronomicon. They employ a cranky pair of local rednecks, Jake (Dan Hicks) and Bobbie Joe (Kassie Wesley), as guides to lead them through the dense woods to the cabin ... where, at that very moment, Ash is removing his belligerent hand with a chainsaw, creating yet another ambulatory foe. Driven to the brink of insanity, Ash fires blindly at a noise outside, unaware that the new arrivals are Annie and company. Bobbie Joe is injured by the gunshot, which incurs the wrath of Jake, who knocks Ash senseless and locks him in the fruit cellar. Believing her father was murdered by Ash, Annie plays the rest of the professor's recording to learn the truth, and discovers her possessed mother was buried in the same cellar -- and not exactly resting in peace. This touches off a string of unbelievably gruesome (and hysterically funny) events, including Henrietta's transformation into a stop-motion creature (reminiscent of a Ray Harryhausen creation), Ed's sudden metamorphosis into a toothy, levitating ghoul, and Ash's climactic confrontation with the forest demon itself. The obvious glee with which Raimi and company present this cavalcade of slime-drenched monstrosities and Three Stooges pratfalls makes it impossible to take seriously as a horror film, but Evil Dead 2 is nevertheless essential viewing among connoisseurs of truly demented cinema. The film's sardonic coda opened the way for a slightly less successful sequel, Army of Darkness. Cavett Binion, Rovi