Evil Dead II

Evil Dead II ★★★★★

I've loved this for as long as I can remember. It's one of my top 4 favorite horror films of all time, the ranking of which really depends on my mood. I used to be one of those people who would frequently skip the first entry, preferring to think of this as the true entry point into the franchise. I actually came at these backwards, seeing Army of Darkness first, when it was released on VHS, and subsequently discovering the delirious magic that is Evil Dead II. I watched the first one but wasn't really sold on it at the time. Going in reverse order, it felt too raw and disconnected from the rest. Over the years, however, I've come to appreciate the original in ways I wasn't capable of in my youthful naivete. I came to appreciate the gritty rawness of it. The pure unbridled creative genius of it. Sam Raimi channeling something otherworldly and imprinting it onto 16mm film.

Like James Cameron with Terminator 2, this sequel/remake is a refinement of the original breakout masterpiece. The director showing what he can do when given a larger budget to play with. But I've always kind of preferred the original Terminator over its grandiose sequel, and I've started to develop a similar view of Evil Dead in recent years. Raimi had less to work with and yet managed to do so much with it. Evil Dead is Raimi at the peak of his exuberance and creativity. It was just pouring out of him. In Evil Dead II, he's just polishing that gem. Making it shine a little brighter.

With all that said, however, Evil Dead II is a film that I could watch on a loop, all day, every day, and not tire of (and I have at points in my life). In fact, if I could only watch one horror film for the rest of my days, I'd probably choose this and not regret it for a moment. I might miss things like Alien and The Thing, but I could live with that. I mean, there's just so much to love in this live-action cartoon of a horror film. The manic energy and sheer zaniness, channeling Looney Tunes vibes and smashing them together with bone-chilling horror and insane levels of gore. Stirring in masterful practical effects, inspired camerawork, and unparalleled sound design. It has this phantasmagorical sheen to it, feeling like some early Tim Burton on acid.

And then there's Bruce Campbell who, if those stuffy old farts at the Academy had any sense, would have won Best Actor for this. I mean sure, his performance is nowhere in the vicinity of being naturalistic. Hell, it's not even in the same galaxy. It's so delightfully manic and unhinged. Completely over-the-top in all the right ways. He's a live-action cartoon character, which fits the tone like a glove. It's a truly one-of-a-kind performance though, which is deserving of praise and respect. The dude is om nom nomming the scenery like Cookie Monster going ham on a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Channeling Buster Keaton and the Three Stooges and putting the slapstick in Sam Raimi's splatstick.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while I think the original is more deserving of respect and was a more momentous achievement, I can't ever stop loving this gleefully insane masterpiece of a film.

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