Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Bruce Campbell, Kassie DePaiva, Danny Hicks, Sarah Berry, Ted Raimi
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Every once in a great while, a groundbreaking film comes along that redefines a genre and changes the way people think about film as a whole. Director Sam Raimi‘s Evil Dead II is the sequel to that film.
Generally considered to be the best out of the Evil Dead trilogy, Evil Dead II follows the chainsaw-wielding anti-hero Ash Williams Bruce Campbell as he fights his way through another nightmarish evening at that deadite-infested cabin in the woods. Filled with insane amounts of gore, self-mutilation, and laugh out loud humor, it has garnered a cult following that essentially overshadows most of Campbell’s other work. Campy and exaggerated, Evil Dead II originally proved that it is in fact possible to poke fun at a genre of film while still remaining in said genre. Sure it’s an acquired taste, but I have it, as evident by my signed and personalized picture of Campbell hanging next to my bed.
But the beauty of Evil Dead II on Blu-Ray is that none of the cheesy, low-budget effects lose their luster (or lack of). In fact, with the technology used to make this film look “better,” it succeeds in making it worse. But that’s the point. Raimi’s masterpiece isn’t meant to be perfect. It isn’t meant to be pristine. It’s meant to be a new type of horror/comedy that brings something new to the table. And in that area, it succeeds. The cheap latex on the faces of Ash’s many nemeses is even more accentuated by the 1080p format transition. I know most people say this about Blu-Ray movies, but it honestly feels like you are there, on set, watching Campbell ham it up in front of a small group of people holding cameras. I’m pretty sure that’s exactly how Raimi intended it, too.
But I do have one major, MAJOR gripe with the BD version of this movie. This edition has no distinguishing special features whatsoever. It has recycled commentary from Raimi, Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and make-up artist Greg Nicotero that has been on the last three releases of the movie, with both featurettes (the incredibly boring Evil Dead II: Behind the Screams and the very entertaining The Gore the Merrier) and the “fast film facts” contain no new information in their Pop-Up Video style representation of behind the scenes information while watching the film. And of course, there is also the laughably pointless film trailer that the film companies put on the release so they can have another bullet point under the “special features” section.
Not even the surround sound is improved on this disc. Since 2002, the EXACT SAME 5.1 Dolby Digital mix has been on every release of this movie. And while it definitely isn’t a bad mix at all, I half expected them to redo it for higher definition stereo systems.
Bottom line: if you own this classic on DVD already, skip it. But if you do need to add it to your library, there are better options with more features out there, such as the Book of the Dead edition, which contains extensive liner notes and photos from the set, as well as an absolutely badass cover. The only redeeming quality of Evil Dead II on Blu-Ray is the aforementioned format change, and even that isn’t worth re-buying it.