Despite the success of The Evil Dead, Sam Raimi never really intended to go back to the Louisiana woods to unleash further undead humiliation upon his beleaguered hero Ash. But the financial failure of sophomore effort Crimewave meant that Dino De Laurentiis's cash offer for a sequel proved far too tempting to the 27-year-old director.
Actually, Evil Dead 2 is more a remake than sequel, more playful, funnier and exciting than its predecessor. It's not scary as such, but has an incredible energy all its own; remarkable when you consider much of the film consists of man alone in a cabin. While The Evil Dead pitted hapless Ash (Bruce Campbell) against four of his zombified pals, this one has our hero come to the deserted cabin with just his girlfriend for a weekend of lurve. But Ash’s romantic plans are put on hold when he discovers a tape recorder at the cabin, upon which an ancient prayer of demonic resurrection has been recorded by the anthropologist who had been staying there. Pretty soon Ash has beheaded his zombified lady, chopped off his own possessed hand and is getting drenched by gouts of brightly coloured blood spraying from the walls. When the missing anthropologist’s daughter (Sarah Berry) turns up looking for her parents with boyfriend (Richard Domeier) and a couple of redneck locals (Dan Hicks and Kassie DePaiva) in tow, the battle begins to stop the ‘Deadites’ entering our world in force.
This is Bruce Campbell’s finest hour, as he tosses off neat one-liners (“Groovy!”, “Who’s laughing now?!”), looks macho and shit-scared in equal measure, straps a chainsaw to his wrist and gets to indulge in some outrageous physical comedy in an attempt to fight off demonic possession. The rest of the cast are a bit amateurish but get into the spirit of things – DePaiva swallows a flying eyeball and is dragged through the trees by vengeful branches (but unlike in the original film, isn’t raped by them), Hicks gets a huge dagger plunged into his chest, while Domeier is turned into a levitating zombie then messily dismembered.
Raimi directs like he might not get the chance again (perhaps he genuinely thought that). No trick is off-limits, his demented camerawork creating a tangible sense of supernatural chaos as it smashes through car roofs, follows Ash as he is hurtled through the air, plunges down trapdoors and climbs the walls at alarming angles. While the gore might not be as concentrated as the eye-poking, pencil-grinding violence of The Evil Dead, the sheer quantity of spraying (often bizarrely coloured) blood is hugely impressive, as is the way it magically disappears from drenched clothing. And to top it all we have one of the all-time great final scenes, as Ash is sent back in time to discover, much to his horror, that his battle against the Deadites is only just beginning. Genius.
Precociously talented American director with a penchant for horror/fantasy and inventive camerawork. Raimi made a huge impact with his debut film The Evil Dead at the tender age of 22, a gory, often breathtaking horror romp made on a tiny budget with a variety of friends from his hometown of Detroit. Follow-up Crimewave was a comic misfire, but Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness were supremely entertaining, while tragic superhero yarn Darkman was Raimi's first time wielding a big budget.
Raimi showed a more serious side with the baseball drama For Love of the Game, thriller A Simple Plan and supernatural chiller The Gift, before directing one of 2002's biggest grossing films, Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 was released in summer 2004, with Spider-Man 3 following two years later. He then returned to outright horror with the thrill ride Drag Me to Hell, and hit Wizard of Oz prequel Oz the Great and Powerful after that. On the small screen, Raimi co-created American Gothic and the hugely popular Hercules and Xena series. Bruce Campbell usually pops up in his films, as does his trusty Oldsmobile car.