Re: MTCU: Evil Dead 2

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I haven’t one movie that I can think of as having changed me, nor can I single out any one as standing out and being that movie that instantly grabbed me, but if I did it’d most likely be Evil Dead II. So while I hadn’t planned on writing my own ‘Movies That Changed Us’, I found myself typing a response to Razak’s column today that kept getting longer and I decided to make it my first Flixist cblog instead. Here  I love the Evil Dead flicks, especially part II though it took me a while to finally watch it. That VHS case with the skull’s eyes staring out at me was something I’d seen for years at rental places, grocery stores by the check-out racks, department stores, etc. That box was everywhere, but I’d never picked it up and given it a look. Then one weekend when my parents were out, my little brothers and I caught Army of Darkness on the Sci-Fi Channel. The insanity on showcase in that movie, mixed with the classic Harryhausen vibe it exuded hooked the four of us. I quickly discovered that it was the third in the Evil Dead trilogy and I one by one I bought each of the movies just as soon my meager
I haven't one movie that I can think of as having changed me, nor can I single out any one as standing out and being that movie that instantly grabbed me, but if I did it'd most likely be Evil Dead II. So while I hadn't planned on writing my own 'Movies That Changed Us', I found myself typing a response to Razak's column today that kept getting longer and I decided to make it my first Flixist cblog instead. Here goes:   I love the Evil Dead flicks, especially part II though it took me a while to finally watch it. That VHS case with the skull's eyes staring out at me was something I'd seen for years at rental places, grocery stores by the check-out racks, department stores, etc.  That box was everywhere, but I'd never picked it up and given it a look. Then one weekend when my parents were out, my little brothers and I caught Army of Darkness on the Sci-Fi Channel. The insanity on showcase in that movie, mixed with the classic Harryhausen vibe it exuded hooked the four of us. I quickly discovered that it was the third in the Evil Dead trilogy and I one by one I bought each of the movies just as soon my meager high school earnings would allow.

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It was a weird experience to go from seeing Army of Darkness's humorous adventure stylings on basic cable to watching a woman get raped by a bunch of vines and branches in the original Evil Dead. Then I watched Evil Dead II and the series all fell in to place. Not many, if any at all, other series could evolve from straight horror to comedic adventure like Evil Dead did and make it actually work. Something about this series is just special in that way, and it all hinges on the middle flick. It perfectly balances the horror and humor, and does so without any self-mockery. And thanks to the abbreviated recaps at the start of the two sequels, they work as stand-alone movies as well. (And they are recaps. Evil Dead II isn't a remake, deal with it.)

Raimi's direction was already very strong and stylized in the first movie, thanks largely to the years of shorts he and his friends had made prior. All kinds of slick camera tricks and editing choices, like placing the camera at the same angle as the car parked on a hill, so it appears as though the characters are walking askew. Or one of my favorite little bits, the low "whump" noise the camera makes as it goes over the rafters near the end. Neat little things that add to the disconcerting feeling of the flick.

Mirror gag in Evil Dead

Mirror gag in Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II adds in a heap of Bruce Campbell awesomeness, as both he as an actor and Ash as a character had grown immensely. The whole first chunk of the movie, after the recap and before the other group meets Ash at the cabin is comprised of some of my favorite movie moments, and it's mostly Bruce Campbell by himself going all out. By the time the new folks join Ash at the cabin to meet their fates and everything peaks with Ash infamously strapping the chainsaw to his wrist the viewer is ready for anything, while at the same time unable to predict what could possibly come next. Unlike the first movie, everything rides on Campbell's performance here, and he absolutely nailed it and then some. Army of Darkness may get a bit more attention, but Evil Dead II is the movie that made Bruce Campbell Bruce Campbell.

If you haven't seen it, please check it, and it's companion flicks, out. If you're already a fan and haven't already read 'em, I'd like to recommend 'The Evil Dead Companion' and 'If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor'. The former contains a wealth of info on the making of the first movie, and just what a struggle it was. The latter is an excellent autobiography by Bruce Campbell, and extremely entertaining. In any case, thanks for reading my fanboy ramblings.