This is yet another installment in my very long-delayed catch-up of films. I’ve got Kevin Hill’s presentation (Evil Dead 2, directed by Sam Raimi) queued up on the DVR and ready for me to literally review. While I watch it again, I’ll let you know what it’s all about, in real time!
So the movie starts out with this narration, kinda clunky, about an evil book (Necronomicon ex mortis) written from seas of blood and obviously full of some serious bad mojo. Oh, and it has apparently disappeared.
Meanwhile, Brisco County, Jr. (AKA “Ash”) has brought his girlfriend to a cabin in the woods…that they apparently broke into. It happens to be where the book is. Fortunately for us, there’s YET ANOTHER narration, in the form of a conveniently-placed reel-to-reel left by the archaeologist who found the book.
Unfortunately, the incantations from the book on the tape appear to summon an extremely fast-moving point-of-view monster, which converts Ash’s girlfriend into some sort of zombie thing (he cuts her head off with a shovel without even taking the time to figure out if she’s pranking him) and then comes for him, though his monster-dom is fairly short-lived and he turns back to, well, apparently normal. Y’know, for a guy who just cut his girlfriend’s head off with a shovel.
The POV monster apparently only comes out at night, and when it does, it chases after Ash. He eludes it by somehow hiding in a trap door in the floor, and it leaves the cabin…going backwards.
Meanwhile, the archaeologist’s daughter, complete with Ivy League boyfriend and some more pages of the book of the dead, is on her way to visit her father, quite blithely talking about the possibility that he may have found a portal to another world. Let’s be serious, here, when was the last time a portal to another world turned out to be anything less than an invitation for hellbeasts to harvest men’s souls, hmm?
Then, Ash’s dead girlfriend does a creepy claymation dance under the moonlight before grabbing his head and bashing it against the window. A bit later, her disembodied head somehow falls from the ceiling into his lap, and with its freshly-sharpened teeth it bites fast onto his hand while the headless corpse attacks him with a chainsaw.
This movie is not particularly subtle, nor is it masterfully acted, a couple of traits I kind of forgot since the first time around. I mean, Ash attacks himself through the mirror, for crying out loud.
But really, what about the POV monster? Where is it now? What are its motivations? Does it have hopes? Dreams? Anything outside of eternal torture of a whole one person? (I admit, “eternal” is pretty ambitious, but when you’ve got the ability to reanimate dead flesh into zombies and take control of a man’s hand (Bruce Campbell beating himself up, ladies and gentlemen!) simply because it was bitten by a disembodied head, don’t you think you can conquer a bit more than just one lousy cabin?
But, really, back to the hand, because it has a cute little Gremlin voice and torments Ash by breaking plates over his head. “Who’s laughing now?” he screams, as he cuts it off with the chainsaw. It’s still not dead, naturally, so he places it under a pail and weighs it down with Ernest Hemingway’s ironic “A Farewell To Arms”. It gets away, and this is plausible, but when the mounted deer and the table lamp start laughing at him, the movie has pretty much gone off the rails. And there’s like an hour left.
Finally, the daughter, Ivy League, and their bridge-is-out guides Cletus and his girl show up, and they discover that the archaeologist’s wife is undead in the basement. This, of course, allows the riveting zombie mother’s eye flying into girlfriend’s mouth scene. The subtleties, that’s what I really like about this movie. Let’s see, we can add ancient sacrificial knife to the list, at least.
Somewhere along the line Ivy League gets possessed. “We are the things that were and shall be again,” he says cryptically before Ash dispatches him with an axe. There are a notable variety of implements of destruction in this film: Shovel, chainsaw, shotgun, cleaver, axe…and the movie’s not nearly over.
But Daddy’s spirit shows up and throws the clue that there are passages to be recited in the newly-arrived pages of the book that will make everything copacetic, but they get thrown in the cellar by Cletus, who is more interested in finding his girlfriend (who fled the cabin only to be eaten by a tree in the most rapey way possible) than saving the world from an interdimensional rift to Hell.
Well, to make an incoherent story short, Zombie Ash reappears, the daughter stabs Cletus in the gut thinking its him, and he subsequently gets dragged into the cellar by Evil Mom. But Ash returns to the side of good by the power of his love for his poor decapitated girlfriend. So he and the daughter create a chainsaw arm attachment just the way Tim “The Toolman” Taylor would have, and they head to the cellar to face Level Boss Evil Mom and retrieve the pages that will save the world. And they do, but there’s another Level Boss, Giant Red-Eyed Homophagus Tree which is narrowly and dramatically stopped by the completion of the final incantation just in time for a commercial break. Then, the interdimensional rift sucks Ash back to medieval times, where his chainsaw arm and shotgun will quickly not avail him in the sequel due to a general shortage of gasoline and shells.
Well, one thing is for certain – this movie has enough matte paintings and green screens to keep a really bad artist rolling in Washingtons for weeks. And hamfisted acting from start to finish. Also, there’s a disproportional amount of disappearing blood. We’re talking thousands of gallons of blood fire-hydranting out of cellars and walls and the like which just can’t be bothered to be on the floor in the next scene. But I’m not surprised that I kind of forgot the plot of this movie after watching it the first time. In fact, I’m already not sure what it was about. Ah, well. Probably a defense mechanism.