Evil Dead 2: Special Edition

Thursday, 11 April 2013 18:05
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Evil Dead 2 - Special Edition Blu-ray Ash is back, and this time he knows of the horrors which await ... Or does he? “Evil Dead 2” may be the sequel to writer/director Sam Raimi’s cult horror hit from 1981, but it is more of a reimagining than a direct follow-on. Ash (Bruce Campbell – “Bubba Ho-Tep”, Burn Notice) and his girlfriend drive to a ramshackle cabin in the woods expecting a cosy break away from it all. What they actually get is a fast-track, rollercoaster ride to Hell!

The cabin’s previous occupants were researching The Book Of The Dead (aka The Necronomicon), but fell foul of its gruesome charms. Now a relentless, evil spirit is loose in the woods, and it wants to possess or kill anybody who ventures too close. As such it is not long before Ash’s girl is slaughtered and he is next on the menu. Strong-willed, he fights through the first night but then more unwitting victims turn up and the real fun begins.

“Evil Dead 2” is a stone-cold classic. It is hilariously funny, features some superb gore effects, loads of jump-out-of-your-seat shocks and belts along at an absurd pace. To top it all, Ash is one of the genre’s most famous and comical characters, and with good reason. He might not be very deep but he is a hero who does not fit the traditional mould. Pointy of chin and skinny, he is like a hyperactive chew-toy for the malevolent spirits, beaten to a pulp but always coming back for more and determined to win the day.

Campbell is marvellous in the role, evidently willing to suffer a lot of real-life punishment for his art (and Raimi apparently enjoyed meting it out!). Some of the effects now look a little old-hat and silly but his joyful acting sells them completely.

The absolute high-point of the film is when Ash is forced to part company with one of his hands after the limb becomes possessed. However, before the separation takes place he must endure a wince-inducing beating as the hand (his hand!) smashes countless plates over his head, punches him repeatedly in the face and generally knocks him about. An actor with less imagination and commitment would have made this laughable for all the wrong reasons but Campbell has you believing in that heinous, screeching hand in seconds. It takes on real personality.

Raimi crams the movie with his energetic, inventive directorial style. He and the crew came up with daft new camera tricks and set-ups to capture his vision. These include the Ram-O-Cam and Sam-O-Cam; the former was a rig that allowed the director to shoot the pursuit of Ash through a car, smashing through the rear and front windshields as it kept going, and the latter was a queasy, floating, rotating rig that followed our hero as he is propelled through the woods backwards, thrashed by branches as he goes.

There are several key influences on the film, which in turn influenced so many horror directors who came afterwards. Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Ray Harryhausen (there are some fun little bits of stop-animation throughout the film) are two of the most obvious.

Picture quality is superb as you would expect for an HD release of such a well-loved horror classic. The sound is quite thin and feeble at times but builds up as the film kicks into overdrive (roughly 5 seconds after it starts).

Special features included in this new edition are:

  • Audio commentary by writer/director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special effects artist Greg Nicotero (of The Walking Dead fame)
  • Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead 2 (new)
  • Cabin Fever: fly on the wall/behind the scenes (new)
  • Road to Wadesboro: Revisiting the shooting location of Evil Dead 2 (new)
  • Archival Featurettes: Gallery with commentary, making of, trailer
  • Photo Gallery

 

There is a lot of content here both old and new. The new stuff is very well produced and in HD where possible; the main documentary is excellent, featuring all-new cast and crew interviews and some cool animated chapter intros. It compliments the old SFX-oriented making-of rather than duplicates it. As for the Wadesboro featurette, I was amazed how the on-location cabin and tool shed are still standing after 26 years.

My favourite aspect of the new Blu-ray has to be the animated main menu, which features a very impatient rendition of the severed hand from the movie. Leave the menu long enough and it goes through quite a number of routines before gesticulating rudely and stomping off!

No self-respecting horror buff should be without this movie in their collection; this superb new, high-def special edition just makes that compulsion to own it even more irresistible.

“Evil Dead 2” (1987) is released Blu-ray on 15 April 2013, courtesy of Studiocanal. The main feature has a running time of 84 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £22.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Thursday, 11 April 2013 18:09

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