Evil Dead 2: 25th Anniversary Edition
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Review by Brian M. Sammons
Ah, the Evil Dead movies, was there ever a series of films that had more DVD releases than these? I say no, no there was not. So then what about this, the latest (and not even the first) release of Evil Dead 2 to Blu-ray? Is this yet another cynical cash grab by a faceless corporate entity trying to exploit the overzealous fans of one of the greatest cult films ever made?
Surprisingly, no. But before I get into that, here’s some backstory on this truly groovy flick.
Bruce Campbell cemented his small claim to fame playing Ash, the bumbling everyman thrust into a horrific situation where he had to dice up the demon-possessed bodies of his friends, family, and lovers to survive in the original, and truly horrific, Evil Dead. Six years later and the Dead crew came back together to make, not so much a sequel, as a remake. However, where the first film was a serious, straight up horror movie, Evil Dead 2 would play things for laughs more so than for shocked gasps. A true splatsitck film, with as much Three Stooges in it as blood, gore, and guts, this movie was an immediate fan favorite and for good reason, it was ninety minutes of pure freaky fun from start to finish.
The story here is sort of a retread of the first movie and begins with Ash and his girlfriend going out to a little cabin in the woods for some fun. Before long they find the dreaded book, the Necronomicon, and soon demons are inhabiting all sorts of folks for a variety of mischief, and once again it’s up to Ash to save the day, or at the very least, himself. And basically, that’s it for story. But this movie is so much more than that brief summation. There’s the part where just Ash’s hand gets demon possessed so he has to cut it off with a chainsaw and then it starts running around the cabin on its own. Then there’s the scene of utter insanity where Ash and the entire cabin (and I mean that literally) share a laugh. Oh, and I almost forgot lovely Henrietta from the root cellar. If you’ve seen this movie already, and you really should have by now, then I’m sure you’ll remember all these scenes and more. If you have yet to see Evil Dead 2 then it is high time that you do and I don’t want to ruin any of this fiercely entertaining and original movie for you. You’re going to want to do yourself a huge favor and see this movie right away, but is this the edition to get?
Thankfully, the answer to that is yes, and that is largely due to the impressive amount of extras this 25th Anniversary Edition brings to the party.
Unlike many of the previous releases of this movie to disc, be it DVD or BD, this time out there is a gaggle of special features to complement the much improved video quality. Said video has been improved much more than even the last Blu-ray version of this film which looked pretty lousy. This time around this gory, goofy flick has never looked better and it finally got the transfer it deserved.
As for those extras I mentioned, there are plenty of them and they’re pretty awesome. Writer/director Sam Raimi teams up with B-movie god, Bruce Campbell, special makeup effects guru Greg Nicotero, and longtime Raimi cohort and co-writer, Scott Spiegel to give us one hell of an entertaining audio commentary. Sadly, this isn’t a new commentary track, as was original promised by Liosngate. It’s the same one from the last time this flick was released on disc, but it’s still a great commentary.
Now thankfully there is a lot of new goodies to be found here, like a multipart documentary called “Swallowed Souls” about Evil Dead 1 & 2, and even a little bit of Army Of Darkness, that talks with a ton of people connected to the films, including the sometimes elusive Bruce Campbell, but sadly not the excessively busy Sam Raimi. This doc clocks in at an impressive hour-and-forty-minutes long and was very well done. There are thirty minutes of home movie like footage taken when originally shooting the movie or creating the amazing makeup effects called “Cabin Fever” and supplied by Makeup FX mastermind Greg Nicotero’s private home movies. “Road to Wadesboro” is a short featurette and is a return to where the movie was originally shot. Then there are the extras that were on the previous editions of this movie, like “Evil Dead II: Behind-the-Screams” and “The Gore the Merrier”, and their inclusion here made me very happy. Often when a new version of a film gets put out, the extras from what came before are forgotten. Well not here and I’d like to see more Blu-rays/DVDs follow this lead. Trailers and still galleries bring this very impressive list of extras to a close. Seriously, after several sometimes lackluster releases of Evil Dead 2, Lionsgates has knocked this one out of the freaking park.
Evil Dead 2 is a great film, one of my all-time favorite over-the-top fun fright flicks, and this version is hands down the best one yet and clearly the edition to get for serious fans. Even if you already own this movie on some other disc, and I’d be stunned if you didn’t, this is a worthy upgrade for the great looking picture and the hours of new extras. Consider this anniversary one not to be forgotten.