Sam Raimi has the genius to play blood-squirting horror for laughs and this thrill-packed heaven for gore-hounds is wonderfully ridiculous.
The film starts with an embellished recap of the original film (1981) before spinning off into another possession tale – less a sequel, more a remake.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) head out to a remote cabin in the woods to spend a romantic weekend together, but while there Ash stumbles on an old reel to reel tape recorder.
It contains the voice of the cabin’s previous inhabitant, Professor Raymond Knowby (John Peakes), who explains that he’s uncovered Necronomicon Ex Mortum – roughly translated to the Book of the Dead – and begins reading aloud his translations of the passages in the book.
Unbeknownst to Ash, these passages resurrect an ancient evil force when spoken aloud and by playing the tape, the evil dead are awoken yet again.
They take over Linda’s body and Ash is forced to finish his girlfriend off with his trusty shovel, burying her out the back before he tries (again) to repel a nasty demonic onslaught.
Linda’s body resurrects itself and attacks Ash: her decapitated head falls into his lap and sinks her razor-sharp teeth into his hand. Then her body comes after him with a chainsaw.
The bite on Ash’s hand becomes infect and there’s an entire sequence where Ash does battle with his own (now evil) hand. Even after he uses the chainsaw to sever his hand, the hand escapes from the bucket he put over it and he ends up chasing it through the cabin much like one would chase a rodent.
Annie (Sarah Berry) – the daughter of Professor Knowby – shows up at the cabin with her colleague Ed (Richard Domeier) and two locals, Jake (Danny Hicks) and Bobby-Jo (Kassie Wesley).
Playing a little more of the tape (!) they unleash Henrietta (Annie’s mother) and Ed transforms into “Evil Ed” (pictured at left), one of the most memorable and iconic monsters of the entire Evil Dead trilogy.
Flashy special effects, hysterical scare tactics and Three Stooges-style farce combine with director Sam Raimi’s trademark dizzying camera angles and manic wit for a breathless rollercoaster ride through twisted genre conventions.
Campbell mugs shamelessly and clearly has a ball as scene outdoes scene in comic thrust and haphazard horror. The results are hilarious.
A direct sequel – Army Of Darkness (1993) – was also a huge amount of fun.
Professor Raymond Knowby