(director/writer: Sam Raimi; screenwriter: Scott Spiegel; cinematographer: Peter Deming; editor: Kaye Davis; music: Joseph Lo Duca; cast: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Sarah Berry (Annie), Dan Hicks (Jake), Kassie DePaiva (Bobby Joe), Ted Raimi (Possessed Henrietta), Denise Bixler (Linda), Richard Domeier (Ed), John Peaks (Professor Knowby); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Tapert; Rosebud Releasing/Renaissance; 1987)


Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

In this sort of sequel-remake of the original 1982 low-budget shocker Evil Dead, director/writer Sam Raimi more or less creates a parody encore by offering up a black comic nightmare of demonic possession.

The entire storyline of the original has been condensed within the first few minutes of the sequel and the new action picks up from that point: as the doofus college student, the resilient “hero” Ash (Campbell) now visits the rural mountain cabin in the woods only with girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). Spending a night there, Ash discovers the reel-to-reel tape containing the professor’s translations of the Sumerian Book of the Dead’s hieroglyphics. By mistake he unleashes demonic forces when he turns on the prof’s tape recorder into which he has read relevant incantations from the Sumerian Book of the Dead. As a result, poor Linda is turned into a demonic zombie, and Ash must decapitate her and battle with her headless corpse when it attacks him with a chainsaw. Before you can say let’s scram, four more innocents arrive at the cabin, including the professor’s daughter Annie (Sarah Berry) and her boyfriend Ed (Richard Domeier). A redneck mechanic Jake (Dan Hicks) and his girlfriend Bobbie Joe (Kassie Wesley) were hired as guides to lead them to the remote cabin. These unawares don’t realize that they’ll be dead by dawn. But this only keeps the storyline moving along, as more bodies become possessed in novel ways of gore.

Our Rambo-like hero Ash is no longer cowering in the corner like in the original and makes use of his shotgun and a chainsaw. At one point when the demon says “I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul!” Ash, as he puts a shotgun to its head, yells out “Swallow this!”

In this version the dialogue is minimal, the maniacal laughter track is set at full-blast, special effects create such novelties as dancing skeletons in the moonlight, the sound effects are spine-chilling, the pacing is breathless, the frenzied camera is always in play, the editing is quick-cut, the extreme gore is equivalent to a horror film funhouse of surrealistic images, and there’s a goofy performance by Campbell that pleases. It’s demented and not my type of crackpot humor, but if you go for the sick jokes it becomes more satisfying as an absurd comedy than as a bloody horror film. Raimi has fessed up that The Three Stooges was a major influence on his film.


REVIEWED ON 2/13/2004 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/