Blu-ray Review: Evil Dead II (1987)

Evil Dead II BR CoverDistributor: StudioCanal

BBFC Classification: 15

Director: Sam Raimi

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Ted Raimi, Denise Bixler, Kassie Wesley

Do you really need to read this review? This is Evil Dead II, for Satan’s sake! Only this is Evil Dead II in HD – seen it before? Ok then, this is Evil Dead II in HD with a bloody fist full of UK exclusive extras that you haven’t seen before – tempted now? Of course you are, it’s Evil Dead II.

Just for the benefit of the solitary person out there who may not have seen it, the film begins with a re-shot summary of the first film featuring Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Linda (Denise Bixler, replacing Betsy Baker) going to the secluded cabin deep in the Tennessee woods (and not, as some think, our reluctant hero returning to the cabin with a new girlfriend – why on Earth would he do that?). After the couple are tormented by the demons that were unleashed after Ash played a tape of a professor reading an incantation from the Book of the Dead, Ash does away with the now-possessed Linda, which ends the recap and then the real fun starts…

Fun which involves Ash himself becoming possessed – well, only slightly possessed as the daylight seems to keep the demons at bay – and then discovering that the bridge that leads out of the woods has been destroyed he returns to the cabin and when the sun goes down it all begins again. While Ash is busy hacking off his possessed limbs and bouncing off the walls, Annie (Sarah Berry), the daughter of the professor from the tape, is making her way to the cabin with her partner and two locals who know an alternate route from the main road. Unaware of what happened to her father, Annie and the gang discover a manic Ash driven to near insanity from his battles with the deadites and once she is made aware of what’s going on, it’s time to find out what happened to her mother Henrietta, who is apparently residing in the fruit cellar.

And we’ll leave it there as far as plot details go. Often referenced as one of the seminal horror films of the 1980s, Evil Dead II is where director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell really created the Evil Dead legend and the trademarks that go with it. Although the first film has its place in movie history – and rightly so – it has often been said by Raimi that a lot of the dark humour got lost amongst the rapid special effects and overall tone of the low-budget shocker so, in a move similar to Tobe Hooper and what he did with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 the previous year, Raimi injected his sequel with more of the Three Stooges-style humour that he always envisioned.

But whatever Sam Raimi brought in terms of scripted slapstick, it was Bruce Campbell who really stepped up and gave his all in terms of performance. In order to get the performance he wanted, Sam Raimi put Campbell through his paces in every way possible, and Campbell delivered what could well be his seminal performance (although some may argue that his turn in Army of Darkness is even more insane). The other trooper out of the cast was Sam’s younger brother Ted, who plays the demonic Henrietta and had a whale of a time flying around in a huge rubber suit that famously split up the middle during filming, footage of which is still in the final edit.

All of which leads into the bundle of extras that Studiocanal have put onto the disc. There’s a rather jovial commentary track with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special effects wizard Greg Nicotero all verbally sparring with each other, a brand new feature-length documentary about the making of the film that features all of the key players, a featurette showing previously unseen behind-the-scenes footage, a visit to the shooting location and lots of archival footage, making this a pretty exhaustive and definitive edition for collectors.

So if you’re yet to experience this classic slice of ’80s splatstick on Blu-ray then this is definitely worth picking up; in fact, even if you have experienced it on Blu-ray before then this is still worth picking up if only for the comprehensive documentary. Often cited as one of the defining films of the horror comedy era, Evil Dead II is endlessly rewatchable and over a quarter-of-a-century later it still stands up, bringing forth howls of laughter and cries of revulsion in equal measure, only in superb HD. Classic.

Evil Dead II

Special Features: Audio commentary with director/co-writer Sam Raimi, actor/co-producer Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero, Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II documentary, Road to Wadesboro: The Location of Evil Dead II featurette, Cabin Fever: Behind the Scenes of Evil Dead II featurette, Evil Dead II: The Gore The Merrier documentary, Evil Dead II: Behind The Screams featurette, Artifacts of the Dead stills galleries, theatrical trailer.

UK Release Date: 15th April 2013

StudioCanal – Website

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7 thoughts on “Blu-ray Review: Evil Dead II (1987)

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