Posted in Other Media

Cinema Silliness, Deadite Edition

Evil Dead II

Year: 1987
Runtime: 1h 27m
Rated: R

Director: Sam Raimi

Writers: Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks

Initial: Okay, so this movie is pretty much a remake of The Evil Dead (1981), right?

Production Notes: Apparently, Raimi and company had always intended for an Evil Dead sequel to happen, but wanted one in which Ash gets sucked into a time portal to the Middle Ages. Men with money wanted a sequel more like the original, so Raimi gave them a sequel that was a pretty much a better (?) version of the original and made sure that a direct sequel would involve time travel.

What Did I Think:
It’s hard for me to parse how effective Evil Dead II is because when I saw The Evil Dead, I was somewhat surprised by it. While schlocky and extra, The Evil Dead was also unnerving. But now, the bizarre camera angles, the tree assault (which is revisited in Evil Dead 2), and the gouts of blood are much less discomfiting. Plot-wise, Bruce Campbell is left to chew scenery for the first portion of the film and, later, the story hackily sets up Army of Darkness.

It’s interesting how different the gore is in Evil Dead II and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It can be argued that Chain Saw Massacre is less gory—the corpses and random limbs, while ubiquitous, aren’t very bloody. In Evil Dead, there is so much blood that it’s cartoonish. Violence is treated similarly. Of course, one of these movies is a horror comedy, one is not. Is it telling that only in the comedy does the male “final girl” take most of the abuse?

Army of Darkness

Year: 1992
Runtime: 1h 21m
Rated: R

Director: Sam Raimi

Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi

Stars: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert

Initial: I know there are catch-phrases in this one . . .

Production Notes: Set in vague medieval Europe, filmed in California.

What Did I Think:
Some Sam Raimi movies are a like a carnival dark ride. And not a slick Disney dark ride, but one of those mall parking lot set-ups. Everything is a little schlocky, a little shoddy and a little too loud, but you’ll probably going to have a good time if you let yourself.

In the 4–5 years between the sequels, Ash has been given a backstory and a couple more brain cells. The end of the previous movie has been retconned: instead of almost immediately being hailed the prophesied one, it takes some doing to convince the primitive screwheads. And the trunk of the ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88 is now chock-full of stuff needed to MacGyver a successful-ish offensive against an army of darkness.

I don’t think it’s entirely the stop-motion skeletons that made me think of Saturday matinee fodder like The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) or Jason and the Argonauts (1963)—though give me a stop motion skeleton over a CGI one any day of the week. It’s probably more the anachronisms in setting and the convolutions of plot. But with a goofy, slapstick twist, and lots and lots of blood.