Film, Go To

GO TO: Evil Dead II (1987) dir. Sam Raimi

Screens 9/16 @ Coolidge


A great horror/comedy film for all horror fans to consider, Evil Dead II (1987) is director-writer Sam Raimi’s prequel to the beloved ’81 original. In its presentation, Raimi ups the thrills, visual splendor, and satisfying tension introduced in the original. The film’s success also stems from its intertwining of silliness and scares. Beginning with a funneled-down recap (or redo) of the original’s narrative, Ash Williams (played with hammy charisma by Bruce Campbell) returns to the cabin with his girlfriend, Linda. The events of the preceding film ensue. After evil resurrected demons kill Linda and Ash almost escapes the cabin, our hero gets thrown into an even larger debacle: he must stop this same evil at its roots. With the help of newcomers Annie Knowby (Sarah Berry), Jake (Dan Hicks), Bobby Joe (Kassie Wessley), and a chainsaw for an arm, Ash and Co. must stop the dead before the dead stop them. Evil Dead II is a scary-silly film that is sure to satisfy––and worth a movie trip.

It’s the blending of scariness with silliness that makes II both a classic and ceaselessly entertaining. The film doesn’t forcefully throw gags at viewers; it uses laughter to add an unusual layer of discomfort. Raimi reels audiences into a world of uncomfortable terrorization, where even amusement can kill. For example, after various fights with demons, Williams hallucinates and sees a progressively possessed version of himself yelling at him to join the demons. The sequence itself is ridiculous, as Campbell delivers the lines with well-timed, off-kilter sarcasm. But the makeup, concept, and circumstances maintain a chilling undertone. This tension between ironic silliness and life-threatening terror makes the film surprisingly and satisfyingly  unpredictable, even in tone.

Of course, Evil Dead II isn’t void of stumbles. The 10-minute recap/remake of the original is rushed. Some one-liners feel bloated, though not out of fashion for ‘80s campy thrillers of the same vein (nor for Raimi whose style oozes such good cheese). Other than that, Evil Dead II is an inventive, clever, and hilarious must-see for horror fans, ‘80s action fans, or film buffs in general. It is a defining gem of ‘80s horror, and one of the few that still holds up today.

Evil Dead II
dir. Sam Raimi
84 min.

Screens Saturday, 9/16, 11:59PM @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
Part of the month-long series: Midnite Movies 101

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