June 13, 2024

Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) – More Camp With Ash

Evil Dead 2Evil Dead II (also known as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn) is the 1987 sequel to the cult classic The Evil Dead.  Like the original, Evil Dead II was directed by Sam Raimi and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams.  It was a minor box office success taking in just over $6 million but has gone on to achieve the same “cult classic” status as the original.  It is considered by many to be one of the greatest horror films of all time.

OK… I’ll come right out and say it. Not only do I not consider this to be one of the greatest horror films of all time (you can see my All Time Top 10 here), but I simply don’t “get it”.

I’m sure I’ll catch all kinds of hell for this as I did with my original The Evil Dead review.  I honestly think the reason I don’t really like these films all that much is cause I came to them so late in life.  I’m guessing someone like Trapjaw, who’s been a big fan of them since back in the day, will have a much different take on them.

So I’m going to start with the good.  Sam Raimi continues to do some amazing things here with camera movement, sound and lighting effects.  The kills / gore that we get is pretty good as well, but tends to get a bit over the top as the flick goes on.  The scenery is pretty amazing here and really does set the standard for “creepy cabin in the woods” films.

Sadly, that’s about where the good ends and the camp begins. Bruce Campbell’s performance here makes his performance in The Evil Dead look like Hamlet.  I know he’s really hamming it up here, but where I could let it slide the first time around it just looks silly now.  Some of the effects here look really bad.  Yes, I know it’s a flick from 1987 but if I compare it to say Ghostbusters from 1984 it’s not even funny how bad Evil Dead 2 looks.  Maybe that’s by design.  Maybe it’s not.

I’ve long since wondered why people put Ash on par with Myers, Voorhees, Leatherface and Pinhead in the Pantheon of horror icons.  After seeing this I’m still wondering why.  While I LOVE the fact that Ash does indeed get possessed, and goes Rambo bad ass by cutting off his hand and attaching a chainsaw in its place, I just can’t get over the silliness of the whole thing.

Don’t get me wrong… I love some silly / bad horror movies.  Jason X or Jason Takes Manhattan are perfect examples.  Those are pretty piss poor and silly movies.  But where they differ in my opinion is they are still horror movies.  For me, the “humor” here just takes me out of the horror experience.

Right out of the gate, I didn’t quite get this one.  The first 10 minutes or so I couldn’t tell if they were retelling the original, if this was new material or if I was looking at a flashback.  In fact, I’m still not quite sure. What I will say is this… the last half hour or so is really enjoyable as a horror experience.  But even that gets just really silly with the claymation right out of Clash Of The Titans that I was taken out of the experience.  The gore was really there toward the end which was a good treat, but honestly by that point I’d sort of checked out.

Speaking of the end… um… what?  I’ve heard Army Of Darkness is a pretty good flick, but from the looks of it I’m in for a Month Python version of horror.  That I’m not interested in… at all.

So let me have it… I know I’m in the minority here.  Groooovy.


I've been a fan of horror and slasher movies for as long as I can remember. I consider the original Halloween to be the best horror movie of all time and my guilty pleasure horror flick would be The Exorcist III. You can find me on Twitter at @406Northlane or TikTok @406Northlane where I'm sure I'll offend you at least once a day.

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10 years ago

What’s funny is that I love horror adventure movies. I may be the only person on this earth that holds Phantasm II in high regard (it plays like I’m watching a video game!). The Evil Dead series has always been about demented demons torturing a soul. They’re having fun because they are demons. As for Ash, Bruce Campbell does walk a fine line of always being comedic. Sam Raime always wanted to portray him as a fool. I do think you pegged it: If you would have found them earlier in life, I think it’s a different story and review. Looking back on the series, I find that the individual scenes are more memorable than the complete story.

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