Project RPO - Evil Dead II

Our small band of Gunters here in The DreamCage universe are reviewing every film mentioned in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. This time, the Defective Inspector carries on his investigation with Evil Dead II...

Here we are again, I am sitting on my beloved PC chair/throne with my finger poised on the play button after eating a homemade chicken burger. Did I learn my mistake last time? No I did not. But Ready Player One is looming over the horizon! So before I regret my decisions in life let me watch Evil Dead 2 and write the article as this lunacy unfolds further. I would warn for spoilers but the movie is over 30 years old, I think you have had enough time to watch it.

Okay so we have a little background this time, the Book of the Dead is some sort of link to another world and that’s why demons ‘n’ shiz came from like they do in Evil Dead 1. Amusingly it recounts a time when the sea was full of blood and that blood wrote the pages because ink (from the octopus of the sea perhaps) was in short supply. Then in 1300AD (the most rounded year to ever exist) the Book disappears. And then we are her again with Ash talking abou- OH FOR FUCKS SAKE. He’s going to a deserted mountain cabin again… I think it’s the same mountain cabin. On the bright side it has a working piano and Ash can play it now… Also I think his girlfriend is the same woman and is now alive or something. Never realised the multi-verse theory was around in 1987. On the bright side the actor who plays Ash, Bruce Campbell, has been given the right to play around with his lines a little more. It doesn’t seem to be reputable dialogue but it’s nice to see the trust is there.

So the movie seems to be repeating a lot of the backstory so I think Evil Dead 1 just didn’t happen, like Evil Dead 2 retconned it away. We’ve just found the hourglass necklace, the recording device with the academic’s logs, the cabin seems to be the same, the book still seems to exist. We do get some lore though, it’s confirmed that the evil spirit is in fact a spirit and it inherits the body of the living rather than dealing with the undead. The movie catapults into an undead plot without warning, last time we were 30 minutes in before the transformations really started now I am 5 minutes in and BOOM, we’re in zombie town. OH! I get it now, the movie is kinda flash forwarding to our last scene of Evil Dead 1 where the spirit is rushing towards Ash and he screams. But instead of dying he flies around, hits a tree, becomes possessed until the… Sun comes out and Ash is returned to “normal”. I say normal because Bruce is going full B-Movie actor at this point pulling some faces I expect to find on Google with very little effort.

Continuity seems to have no hold in Evil Dead 2. While many scenes are similar the sun rises and sets rapidly, the bridge is now connecting the cabin via a chasm rather than a tepid river and the forest hasn’t raped a single person. Ah well I didn’t really expect a story arch but would have been nice. Following a brief road traffic race/accident Ash has decided to return to the infamous cabin and subsequently break down each and every door in the house while escaping the spirits ungodly howls. But the spirit gets bored after missing Ash through a corridor and recoils away back into the forest for plot-reasons. I gotta say I am finding it hard to grasp the logic in any of this. We get a sudden cut scene of a woman, probably the daughter of the academic, who has found more pages of the book and we are reliably informed that there is more to be translated. Back to the cabin and Ash is trying to cry on queue while a haunted piano plays some strange music. It seems the evil spirit would rather mess- what the hell. Okay Ash’s girlfriend’s corpse has just popped out of the grave, headless, danced around semi-naked, reattached her head and continues to dance until she… Flies away into the forest, not metaphorically, only for the whole scene to be a dream for a crazed Ash having a mental breakdown in a wooden chair. I know how you feel Ash, I can’t believe any of this either buddy.

OH look her head fell from the ceiling and decided to take an appropriate nibble of Ash’s hand with little to no desire to let go. So naturally Ash puts the head into a metal vice, gets attacked by the headless zombie corpse wielding a chainsaw only for it to… chainsaw itself and.. God it’s only been 21 minutes. Interestingly Ash is going fully insane, this seems to be the focus of the movie this time round and I kind of like it. He thinks someone from inside the mirror is trying to kill him (which was a good scene production wise) and then battles with his recently bitten hand which has gone full zombie. We’re back to the academic’s daughter who is trying to cross the destroyed bridge back to the cabin to meet her ol’ Father and his crazy Necronomicon. Apparently there is another trail to the cabin (oh poor Ash for never knowing this) and so a meeting will eventually occur.

Back to Ash, he is smashing dinner plates on his own face while doing a very Liar Liar like beating to himself. It’s odd to think Jim Carrey channelled Evil Dead 2 when being a lawyer. Having enough of his own hands maniacal laughter (yes it has a voice for some reason) he mocks the hand by cutting it off with a nearby chainsaw. It’s very clear at this point that the creators of Evil Dead 2 knew what wacky legacy they left behind with Evil Dead 1 and embraced it through the magic of Bruce Campbell’s facial expressions. Nothing says ‘we know it’s funny’ more than planting a book called ‘Farewell to Arms’ atop the severed hand. Knowing this movie is having fun with itself makes me much more receptive at this point as I am not taking it anymore seriously than the creators themselves. I mean Ash just broke a chair by sitting on it and suddenly a mount deer head, lamp, various furniture start cackling at him resulting in everyone giggling. Who knew the evil spirit was so good natured? But it’s fine now as the group who were coming up from the trail have just arrived and so we can enjoy some relatively sane people dealing with crazy Ash and his house of laughing zombies. Well except Annie (the academic’s daughter) think Ash is some sort of serial murderer and frankly that makes sense. He’s covered in blood and is missing a hand. So he is thrown into the cellar of forgotten about until the plot requires his return.

We’re introduced to the idea that the academic’s wife was buried in the cellar, she bursts from the ground and tries to feast on Ash’s flesh and after some entertaining dialogue Ash is released and, excluding an eye blown from the zombie’s socket, we are now zombie free again. Ash takes this time to update the new gang of cliché morons while our newest crazy zombie lady is doing the familiar transformation from zombie to human look-a-like to try and tempt her non-zombie daughter into releasing her. After a brief battle with a zombie who bleeds green like a Vulcan the announcement is made that they’ll all be dead by dawn. Which I think is the title of this sequel, so that’s neat. Then the sound effects team have some fun with Dolby 5.1 by echoing noises around including, but not limited to, cannon fire, deer stampedes, dogs barking and what I think is the start of 500 miles by the Proclaimers. I may have made one of those up. At this stage having other characters around has calmed down Bruce Campbell and his newly acquired mad confidence on screen, which sucks severely. I was enjoying the lunacy.

After 5 minutes of filler dialogue and more sound effects the ghost of the academic announces the new pages from the Book of the Dead need to be recited for his soul, and their minds, to be saved. At this point unknown lady 1 (Bobbie Joe I think?) decides she must leave through the forest, spirits be damned! Oh god the vines are back… Oh I don’t wanna watch this scene agai- yep her clothes are being ripped but this time she lady is wearing jeans. The spirit, upset by being unable to repeat his sinful act, drags her along the forest floor and launched… Into a tree. She’s probably dead now, or undead, or something. Returning to the cabin Crazy Hill Billy Bob-whatever-the-hell-name is upset his beloved disappeared. Ash and Annie work out the only way to slay the demon is to read particular passages of the book. Sadly Billy Bob demands they go outside to hunt for Bobbie Joe. He is summarily punished by a zombified Ash by being launched into a tree. Lots of tree deaths in this sequel. One handed Ash is now trying to kill Annie by breaking into the cabin but she is wielding the skull dagger used in previous movies. Sadly she stabs Billy Bob by accident and Zombie Ash is free to be… Whatever he is. Billy Bob, somehow not dead, is dragged around the house for whatever reasons while Annie screams “shut up!” at the man she just stabbed. Not the warmest creature in this franchise, is she? She even leaves him in grabbing reach of the undead wife/mother in the cellar. He gets grabbed and explodes in a sea of blood, goodbye Bob. Ash is now in the cabin ready to finish off Annie but he locates the locket hourglass thing from his former lover. It seems the spirt of love and compassion can de-zombify people and he turns normal. Why the hell not eh?

Annie however is not convinced he is healed and tries to murder Ash with an axe, repeatedly. After a crazy direct stare from Bruce Campbell Annie is convinced he is no longer undead and that they need to retrieve the pages of the book of the dead to finish this. This is when Ash obtains his chainsaw hand, saws off his shotgun and becomes the character pop culture most will know of even without watching the movie. I sure did! He also says groovy, which is groovy. The crackling sound of the petrol-powered chainsaw echoes as they enter the cellar in the hunt for the missing pages of the Book of the Dead. Knowing full well crazy she-zombie lives underground Ash tentatively scurries around the water-soaked cellar until eventually he finds all the pages. The pages are thrown to Annie ready for translations, she subsequently utters some gibberish and returns to the peril of her ex-mother’s zombie form. Luckily Ash is around to fight the demon spawn and dismember her while she announces “I’ll swallow your soul!” like a hooker desperate for customers. Ash declines and offers her to swallow lead instead, huzzah!

But there is 10 more minutes of this movie and the Book of the Dead can now control the trees as they go J.R.R. Isengard on the small mountain cabin. Annie reminds Ash and the audience that the evil has only been made flesh and not banished yet by the second passage yet. Sadly she is stabbed midsentence by the originally severed zombie hand leaving Ash to fight a zombie, head, thing. After chainsaw in the eye shows little effect the day looks lost. Luckily in her final few moments of life Annie finishes the incantation and Ash is saved from eventual death by forcing the evil through a rift in space and time. It seems however rifts of space/time have little to no discrimination as to what they suck in and Ash along with his car is brought along for the ride. The movie ends with him being surrounded by knights, some sort of crazy bishop and a flying gargoyle. Ash blows it’s face off with a shotgun, is praised by the people only for him to scream “noooo Noooo NOOOOOOOOOOOO”.

WOW looking back at this article the movie is clearly more chunky than the last. There was also a lot less projectile fluid, in fact my chicken remained firmly inside my stomach cavity! It’s clear that a lighter approach was taken when making this movie and a reputation had probably been formed, which was a wise move. Allowing for the occasional silliness somehow made the production easier to watch, it wasn’t just ridiculous attempts at serious backstory but instead an oddly fun action/horror/comedy.

I have no obligation to watch Evil Dead 3, it was made after Ready Player One and that was the main purpose of these articles. None the less I am oddly curious about what happened and to see if they keep up with the complete insanity of it all. I may be shot down for saying it, but I enjoyed the sequel more than the original. It’s clear why these movies are still watched today, I strangely enjoyed myself. I may even keep the DVD copies I bought from CEX!

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Images from IMDB

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