Thursday, October 18, 2012
Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
The Chin himself Bruce Campbell returns as our hapless hero Ash. Once again, he and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) arrive at the isolated cabin in the woods, and it isn't long before an ominous tape recording of passages from the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (the Book of the Dead) releases some dark spirits that possess Linda and try to drive Ash crazy and kill him. Soon, other doomed folks arrive at the cabin: the owner's daughter (Sarah Berry), her boyfriend (Richard Domeier), a redneck (Dan Hicks), and his girlfriend (Kassi Wesley). The forces of the Necronomicon whittle the cast down until eventually Ash must take charge, minus a hand but plus a chainsaw, to send the demons back from whence they came.
Raimi works in several gags that were clearly inspired by the Three Stooges. Ash stomps on the head of one deadite, causing its eye to shoot out of its socket through the air and into the screaming mouth of another character. Early on, the possessed, decapitated head of Linda attacks Ash, biting down on his hand, and he runs around screaming trying to get it off. Later, Ash's right hand is possessed by the demons, and the rebellious appendage tortures our hero by punching him, smashing plates over his head, and causing all sorts of pain. Ash's solution? Lop it off and affix a chainsaw to the bloody stump. That doesn't stop the hand from continuing to cause trouble.
There are other cast members, but this is really the Bruce Campbell show. He's on his own for much of the first half of the movie, and he carries it. Unlike the first movie, in which he was a panicked victim, and the third, in which he becomes a comic book styled hero with no shortage of one-liners, Ash is pretty much a normal guy driven mad until he can take no more. Everything that happens is an excuse to see Campbell get beaten up and thrown around; it's a very physical role, but he maintains comic timing and sarcasm throughout. While not quite the ass-kicker he'd become in Army of Darkness, he's well on his way. Groovy.