The world’s worst romantic (Bruce Campbell) returns with his girlfriend (Denise Bixler) to the evil cabin in this 1986 sequel/remake/self-parody.
What’s extraordinary about Evil Dead II (AKA Dead by Dawn, which sounds like a hipster perfume) is that it makes the first Evil Dead, the most insane movie ever made, look restrained by comparison. It dispenses with series continuity and the original’s bare-minimum preamble, immediately possessing both main characters and watching them literally go to pieces. Sam Raimi outdoes himself in every respect, dialling up the comedy, gore and visual eccentricity; there are shots from the point of view of a demonically possessed hand, a laughing wall-mounted deer and an eyeball flying into someone’s mouth, squeezing cinematic sorcery out of every socket.
Its greatest weapon however is Campbell who becomes Ash in this film. Despite wearing Ashley’s clothes, Ash is a different character; a strong-jawed quip machine straight out of a comic book (and the Necronomicon), flippant to a degree that’s both pathological and hilarious. Campbell’s physical comedy matches Raimi’s style completely, the stop-motion animation enhancing the sense of a comic book come to life. This is how to do a horror sequel, going further than the original and setting up the threequel (and introducing the term Deadite), producing another exhilarating rollercoaster ride with no substance other than whatever the filmmakers are on.