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October 2017

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"Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn" (1987)

This is less a sequel than a complete remake. "Evil Dead 1" was a low budget splatter porn horror movie. "Evil Dead 2" is a low budget horror comedy. Bruce Campbell beating himself up when his right hand is possessed by a demon is pure slapstick comedy.

Then I watched the "making of" video and commentary and it turns out Sam Raimi was going for humor. The special effects guys were surprised at things they thought were supposed to be scary that turned out looking ludicrous. Sam Raimi was intentionally doing Three Stooges routines and taking every opportunity to beat up his friend Bruce Campbell.

This movie starts with a voiceover explain about the "Book of the Dead" that summons evil spirits to possess the living. Then we have Ashley 'Ash' J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) driving over a bridge in the mountains to get to a cabin in the woods. Ash has also given Linda the same pendant he gave his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker) in the first movie. Ash finds the tape recorder and plays the recording of the Archeology professor reading from the "Book of the Dead" which summons the demon who drags off Linda. Ash finds Linda in the woods kills and buries her. He is then attacked in a scene reminiscent of the end of the first movie. He becomes possessed but recovers when the sun rises. He tries to escape but the bridge has been destroyed and he is trapped in the cabin with the demon.

For a while it looks like the movie is just going to be Ash alone in the cabin fighting the demon. But then the Archeologist's daughter, her boyfriend, and a couple of hicks hike up to the cabin and we are back where we were in "Evil Dead 1" Except the daughter has some extra pages from the book that will vanquish the demon.

The first movie had a lush musical sound track that was totally inappropriate to the movie. There is a little bit of that in this one. But a lot more special effects: POV camera work, stop action animation, models, and green screens. And I'm glad they cut the tree rape scene.

Overall I like "Evil Dead 2" better than "Evil Dead 1" because it is funnier and less realistic. Check out the prolonged chase scene with Ash in the cabin. How big is that cabin? It's huge. And how stupid is that demon that it can't find Ash when he hides. The laughing room sequence is really great. And all the sequences with the possessed hand are hilarious.

The "making of" video is great for anyone who wonders how they do those things. Such simple camera tricks, used to great effect.

It's worth watching twice to hear Bruce and Sam talk about it and point out all the mistakes.

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