EVIL DEAD II
Book of the Dead
Review by Michael Jacobson
Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Richard Domeier,
Director: Sam Raimi
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Anchor Bay
Features: See Review
Length: 84 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2005
SOMETHING DOWN HERE!!"
there ever been a more perfect Halloween party movie than Evil Dead II?
I can't think of one. When
writer/director Sam Raimi and star/co-producer Bruce Campbell re-teamed for
further adventures of the beloved but inept Ash in a haunted wood, they really
seemed to go for the gusto, creating a masterpiece of terror and comedy with an
amazing and relentless sense of energy and fun.
made for a few thousand dollars, was more of a straightforward horror flick, and
became something of a must-see cult classic in the early 80s, and remains one to
this day. It garnered enough
attention that Raimi was able to raise $3 million for a sequel.
Unable to use footage from his first movie to recap the story, Raimi
chose instead to re-imagine the story a bit.
When the movie starts, there isn't a group of five kids heading into
danger...it's just Ash and his doomed gal pal Linda (Bixler).
arrive at an old cabin for a romantic getaway, but when Ash finds a tape
recording of recited passages from the ancient and evil Book of the Dead and
plays it, it awakens a bloodthirsty presence in the forest.
Soon Linda is gone, but not for good.
Actually, for worse...she comes back and begins Ash's frantic nightmare
spirits of the dead start to torment Ash in furiously frightening and funny
ways, leaving the hapless hero often scrambling through terrifying situations
with recklessness and clumsiness. If
the Three Stooges had ever made a comedy where the screen ran red with blood, it
might have looked like this.
the meantime, the daughter of the explorer on the tape Annie (Berry) and her
boyfriend Ed (Domeier) are on their way to the cabin to help her father with
their work. They join up with Jake
(Hicks) and his gal Bobbie Jo (Wesley) when the road to the cabin gets a little
deconstructed, and arrive to find Ash, the story of what happened to Annie's
parents, and an unwelcome visitor in the cellar.
happens to be carrying some pages that could vanquish the evil...but the
relentless assault of the evil dead will make you wonder if she can possibly get
to them before they get to her and her band of rapidly decreasing friends!
was quite excited when I first heard Sam Raimi would man the helm of the Spider-Man
movies, and that was largely because of this movie.
Despite a low budget and not much in the way of studio resources if any,
Raimi managed to create an unforgettable visual style with energy and style.
His camerawork is stunning...watch the way it mimics the 'force' in the
woods, and chases Ash at top speeds, going through the back window of a car and
through the front, into the cabin, from room to room and back out again.
The movement is exhilarating...it's like being on a virtual roller
Campbell really became a cult fave with his turn at Ash in this film.
His skill at physical comedy is impressive, as is his willingness to
endure the outrageous at the hand of his friend and director Raimi.
Ash's ability to go from cowering and screaming to tall and heroic says
something about the everyman in all of us, even if we'd never dream of
delivering the cheesy kiss-off lines he spews forth!
is a true horror classic...imaginative, scary, hilarious and unforgettable.
It's the film that cemented Sam Raimi's reputation and put him on the
road from a B movie king to an A list Hollywood director.
And it paved the way for an even more outrageous installment in Army
of Darkness...but that's a story for another time.
new high definition transfer was supervised by Sam Raimi, and is the best I've
ever seen this movie look, even with a pair of previous DVD incarnations.
The main difference is everything just seems a little cleaner, as though
the restorers took one more swipe at getting spots and residue off the
negatives. The images are brighter
than before, and the detail level is strong in both light and dark scenes.
Very little grain or aging artifacts are apparent...another top-notch
effort from Anchor Bay.
go down into the cellar and carve ourselves a witch."
Bay does the best job of remastering older classics for modern digital sound
technology, and this is an explosive 5.1 offering. Spoken words and quieter moments are focused through the
center channel, and sound a bit thin here and there, but the actions sequences
are dynamic, expansive and make full use of all of your speakers.
One sequence has an unseen entity making horrific sounds while the casts'
eyes dart from corner to corner...they're following the sound as it jumps around
from channel to channel. Smooth,
clean, and great fun.
best extra is the commentary track with Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, co-writer
Scott Spiegel and make-up artist Greg Nicotero. It's an absolute hoot to listen to, and informative as well.
Bruce Campbell has to be the clown prince of the DVD commentary.
is also a "Behind the Screams" featurette, which is essentially a
collection of production photos narrated by special effects man Tom Sullivan.
"The Gore the Merrier" looks back at the film through the eyes
of the effects and make-up guys. Rounding
out is a trailer, stills gallery, and talent bios, but that's not including the
package...a rubbery, eerie replica of the Book of the Dead complete with pages
of original artwork and an eye that screams when you poke it! The only
complaint about these "book" passages is the little plastic envelope
in the back to hold the disc...my disc was already scratched the first time I
took it out.