A chainsaw for an arm. That alone should be enough to make any film a classic. But when the person wielding it is tagline king, Bruce Campbell, how Evil Dead 2 wasn’t a blockbuster is beyond comprehension.
Before he became famed for his directing of Spider-Man, Sam Raimi was a god on the underground cult film scene. Evil Dead earned him notoriety enough to have an actual budget for Evil Dead 2, which was essentially a remake without the tree rape.
Raimi used the same legendary make-up team and stop-motion animation to create a quasi-realistic evil deer head, crazed severed hands and undead OAPs. It was laughable, yet at the time somehow scary – a combination of emotions previously thought impossible. Visual comedy is a key part: when Ash traps his severed hand under a pile of books the top title is A Farewell To Arms.
The film began with a couple who foolishly chose to go on holiday in a creepy forest. They find the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead), read from it and unleash the living dead. After killing his undead girlfriend, being infected by a zombie, cutting off his evil hand to replace it with a chainsaw, and ultimately holding off the hoards of undead, Ash earned his place in the hero hall of fame. Groovy.
The use of first-person camera shots to transpose the view of the demon created pants-creaming tension as Ash is chased about the house by a beast visualized only by the fear in his fleeing face. There's probably some psychological study that shows looking at fear on another person’s face makes you afraid as a survival instinct – Sam Raimi probably didn’t plan it that way. The whole film feels unplanned, and that’s what everyone fell in love with.
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