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Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

The Evil Dead II came out in 1987 and firmly established itself as a favourite among horror fans. It features a kind of hysterical, manic humour mixed with gut-renchingly gory violence and some genuinely creepy scenes. The end result is a horror masterpiece.

Evil Dead II is basically a remake of Evil Dead except the budget is bigger. Sam Raimi as writer/director and Bruce Campbell as lead really make this film an experience. The action is set in a remote cabin in the woods and starts with the arrival of Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend (soon to be possessed bimbo). The cabin was being used by a professor and his wife who were translating the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead. Ash proceeds to play the tape of the incantation made by the professor and all hell breaks loose. His girlfriend disappears and returns possessed, Ash tries to escape only to discover the bridge has curled up on itself. He returns to the cabin and begins his hilarious descent into madness. Things really hot up when the professors daughter arrives with a, too quiet to survive boyfriend, and two hillbillies with victim stamped all over them.

The gore and special effects in this film are excellent despite a still relatively small budget. The action lasts just 85 minutes and there is no time to relax, the pace is fast and furious. The Deadites in all their various forms are frightening, grotesque and at times hilarious. What really makes this film though, is the incredible, over the top, thoroughly manic acting performance from Bruce Campbell. The character of Ash is a great invention and is developed further in the third Evil Dead film (Army of Darkness), although in both it is Bruce who brings the character to life. His delivery of some quality one-liners is excellent but the most incredible thing is his unbelievable facial expressions, the scene where he is going mad and laughing with the house always reduces me to hysterics. The idea of Ash is very appealing, the thought that your brain may descend into madness in order to ensure your survival.

This film is very much the product of Campbell and Raimi, the other actors are the usual sub-standard horror film victims. Raimi's unique direction is obvious throughout, the camera zooming through the woods and the cabin is very effective and the creepy sound throughout adds to the mood. The voices of the Deadites are top class, dripping with evil; look out for the creepy witch in particular.

Raimi was extremely inventive with his filming and many of the effects he pioneered have been copied. He speeds up film, he zooms around with the camera, the shot of the camera zooming through the woods and the chase through the house is excellent and blends seamlessly. The main thing he does is to crank up the action, the film feels like it goes at a tremendous pace; a rollercoaster ride of horror and comedy.

Overall this film is essential viewing for any horror fan and I would recommend it to those with a passing interest as well worth a try. The blend of humour and gory violence works well to create a unique film, and no matter how many times I watch it Bruce always makes me laugh.

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