Back in 1981, an unknown indie film-maker called Sam Raimi and his mate, Bruce Campbell, released a film called The Evil Dead. Made on a shoe-string budget and under tortuous conditions, it never-the-less became an instant classic. Known for its monumental gore and ground-breaking sound and visuals, The Evil Dead would become the template for its parody sequel Evil Dead 2—released in 1987.
The film is little more than a remake of the original, with more ambitious effects and less backstory, but it proved to be the movie that kickstarted Raimi and Campbell’s careers and spawn spawned a franchise.
While, in many ways, the archetype of all cabin in the woods films that followed, there’s nothing quite like Evil Dead 2. Campbell and Raimi mostly play it for laughs but it takes real skill to balance the slapstick, over-the-top set pieces with genuine shocks. The POV shots, in which the viewer hurtles through the woods, seeing everything from the ‘evil’s’ perspective, are hugely effective and while me may sniff at stop-frame horror effects today, they were considered so unnerving at the time that—even with an X rating—many were cut. In fact, the British Board of Film Censorship didn’t allow an uncut version of the film to be screened until 2001.
StudioCanal’s brand new restoration is a joy to see, and accompanied by an audio commentary and (on blu-ray) a whole disc of behind the scenes extras.
Evil Dead 2 may not be the best horror movie on the block but it is the grooviest.