Evil Dead II

Year: 1987
Production Co: Di Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell

As I write this Sam Raimi's introducing Drag Me To Hell at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. A lot of casual film fans who only know him for the Spider Man films will be surprised at this sort of thing from him, but those who know his history will know he's right back where he started.

I always had the impression the original Evil Dead was less an outright comedy than Raimi originally wanted it to be, but the cheesy effects, campy overacting and cult recognition from legions of video fans made it the distinctive sort of horror comedy straight horror often becomes over time.

But this time around I got the feeling Raimi and backer De Laurentiis realised with much more clarity that they were making a funny film as well as a scary one. And it's not just the outrageous nature of the gore or frights. Just watch Ash's (Campbell) phantom hand punching him senseless or smashing plates over his head and try not to laugh.

Then there's Campbell himself, who seems much more comfortable with steeled jaw, eyes wide and a spotlight shining up from below to make him seem permanently unhinged than he does keeping a straight face.

Narratviely it's less a sequel than a remake, as this new Ash once again finds a secluded cabin to take his girlfriend Linda, with no idea it contains the Book of the Dead or the recorded words of the Professor, just waiting for some poor schmoe to play it back and conjure up the spirits that roam the woods.

With his girlfriend quickly possessed by them and bloodily dispatched by Ash, he holes himself up while attacked from all sides. Meanwhile, the professor's daughter, her boyfriend and two yokels are making their way to the cabin to search for her missing parents after their research took a turn for the worse.

It's all a bloody, frightening hoot as Raimi, his puppeteers and special effects team think up any outrageous creature or ghoulish incident they can, and we can only imagine how much fun they had bringing it to the screen. If you're a fan of cult horror, you'll have as much fun with the results.

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