Oh boy, what do I make of this film? About a week or so ago I ventured into my first early Raimi (sorry to those I made feel old by calling him that Spider-man guy). It was The Evil Dead, which is the first in this two film series about the walking dead and human possession by some evil spirit. I found that first film a bit difficult because of the horrid acting and laughable effects, but I have to say it has a certain charm to it because of the obvious B movie feel and amount of fun camp to be had. And I do believe that my viewing of its sequel to be beneficial to my positive slanting view of what was ridiculous filmmaking in the first installment.
We return to the site of the crime in the first film, and with the same character who outlasted, outwitted, and outplayed the rest of the pale faced zombies: Ash (Bruce Campbell). Ash takes his girlfriend to a secluded cabin which he knows about (and if the occupants show up they will just claim to be lost) for a romantic weekend with just the two of them. And just as soon as he gets there does he play the ominous tape which unleashes the evil spirit, which possess his girlfriend, forcing him to behead him. Soon enough some strangers show up looking for their parents, but when the bridge goes out, and they can't seen to find the way from which they came, everyone is stuck trying to survive and not become possessed.
I am not sure at all what to make of this film. Is it a sequel? A prequel? A remake? None of the above make sense. You might call it a sequel, but the cabin has current occupants who were long since gone in the original. And if it is a sequel than Ask is a sick human being not only for having been there and experienced it all before and yet still taking his new girlfriend back and ignorantly playing the same tape again which let out the spirit, but also because he gives her the same charm. C'mon man, have some class and originality. It could be a prequel, but Ash claims to have been there before, like in the original? And if it is, why does he go back in the original, and act as though he doesn't know how to get there? And a remake? Well all the factors are different apart from Ash and the general idea behind the spirits, which is actually expounded upon in this one. I guess that leaves this film as being some sort of strange, unique phenomenon.
And I truly think phenomenon is the best word to use in this situation because it is the only way to explain its popularity. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time with this film, perhaps a better time than with the first one, and I think that is probably in part because I knew kind of what to expect, or in some cases, what not to expect, like good acting and effects. They are both laughable, but the camp factor is so high it becomes a joyride instead of a genuine fright night. It was bad to the point that it reminded me of another film from 1987, Andy Sidaris' Hard Ticket to Hawaii. That was a film which I watched with friends, knowing it would be horrible, and it was, but it was also one of the best film experiences of my life because of how bad it was. This film was like that, and yet Hard Ticket to Hawaii is rated a 3.5 on IMDb, and Evil Dead II is rated a whopping 7.8. I understand the love, but how can the same love not be expressed to a equally ridiculous film. It is an unexplained phenomenon to me.
And that leads me to my final paragraph of the review, a paragraph I would like to dedicate to Bruce Campbell. I was somewhat mixed on his performance in the first film, but he just goes all out here and I have nothing bad to say about him. Well, that's not true. He is so bad that he gives one of the single best indirectly comedic performances I have ever seen. And for those who will say it is not indirect, I just mean that it was a non-comedic performance, it was a horror performance. He is so over the top, so unnecessarily flamboyant and demented. The laughing scene is just plain awesome. At the end of the day I definitely had a great time, but not because it is a great film, in fact because it is a bad film. Not as bad as Hard Ticket to Hawaii, it actually has some cinematic moments that show signs of promise for Sam Raimi given a budget and a script not written by himself, but still bad. Next time I will be sure to watch it with friends, and hope they get the joke too.