- Movie Rating -

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)

| March 13, 1987

Evil Dead 2; Dead by Dawn is what I wanted from Stuart Gordon’s Dolls.  From that movie, I wanted a grand guignol of blood and guts fantasia. but it seemed too slight and too civilized to move in that direction.  Sam Raimi doesn’t have that problem.  This is a comedy made with a very specific visual style that I hadn’t seen before.

The plot is beside the point.  It’s the old cabin in the woods bit with a group of young visitors stopping off at a run-down place somewhere in the Michigan woods.  There they discover The Book of the Dead and, true to form, open it up and release all manner of restless and malevolent sprits.  Naturally the spirits turn on the visitors, chopping, slicing and eviscerating everyone with maniacal glee until there is only one person left.  The sole survivor is named Ash (Bruce Campbell) and he is none-too-thrilled to discover that his immediate surroundings are all haunted – the cabin, the basement, the woods and eventually his own right hand. 

What is so clever about this movie is Raimi’s visual style which allows lots of first-person shots from the demon’s point of view.  What does a demon’s vantage point look like?  Lots of fish-eye lenses, lots of weird narrow shots up walls, down hallways and through the woods often at breakneck speed, like an omniscient snake winding through the room.  For my money, the most brilliant scene in the movie is the one in which the spirit (in first-person) races through the woods at breakneck speed toward the cabin, gets lost on the way there and stops to get its bearings.

But there are other sights here that I found absolutely brilliant, including a female skeleton that dances in the moonlight, rolling her head down her arm and back up again like an obscene Fred Astaire dance number.  Body horror is a theme here.  Eyes go white, skin turns to rot, heads roll around, guts spill, limbs are hacked off and blood sprays everywhere.  Even if you’re not into this, rest assured your local teenage boy will eat this stuff up.

I did too, actually.  I loved just how insane Raimi is willing to make his film.  The movie is a comedy out of Dante’s Inferno with Ash performing actions only found in Three Stooges shorts.  There’s a moment when his hand becomes possessed and he is forced to chop it off leading to a cat and mouse came as he tries to kill it.  Tom and Jerry never had it so good.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1987) View IMDB Filed in: Horror