The eternal question surrounding Evil Dead II
is whether the film is intended to be a sequel to or a remake of The Evil Dead
, due to the fact that the first film’s continuity is essentially ignored in the second film. Its “recap” of the first film’s events excludes the characters Scott, his girlfriend, Shelly, and Ash’s sister, Linda. This kind of drastic storyline alteration is enough to doom a film in the eyes of its fans, yet Evil Dead II
is so damn good that excuses must be made by such fans in order to justify their appreciation. Thus, the remake argument is generated.
This argument, for all intents and purposes, is absolute crap. There is a “II” at the end of the title for a reason; it distinguishes the film as following another. Of course, since the end of the first film is left for interpretation (although it is revisited in the second film), some have argued that Ash survived the first encounter and is dim-witted enough to return for another night at the cabin with his new girlfriend, who also happens to be named Linda. By and large, this theory is also regarded as crap. This leaves us back at the beginning, with a sequel that doesn’t follow its predecessor’s continuity.
The major alterations are as follows: Ash heads out to a cabin in the woods for a weekend with his girlfriend, Linda, and not with a group of friends, as in the first film. However, after he kills Linda when she is possessed (he still decapitates her with a shovel, thank GOD), he is attacked by a demon in an instance that mirrors the ending of the first film. The demon is forced out as dawn arises, but Ash is left unconscious until the next evening. He tries to flee in his car, but he finds that the bridge that he took to reach the cabin has since been destroyed. From this point on, the film consists of original material and is in sync with the first.
Another major change in the film is not in regard to storyline, but to theme. The Evil Dead
was pure, terrifying horror show with some humorous moments due to amateur actors and limited special effects. Evil Dead II
, however, splits comedy and horror perfectly, providing not so much fright as revulsion, yet it is executed in hilariously over-the-top slapstick genius. The most-oft cited example of this is the now-classic sequence where Ash’s hand is possessed, so he chops it off with a chainsaw. Undaunted, it continues to torment Ash throughout the film, even after he seemingly eliminates it with a shotgun.
These changes don’t make the film inferior. Instead, it gives a new perspective. Imagine if the first film was played out for laughs, not scares, and the massive amounts of gore were even greater, with multiple flood of blood making regular appearances. It would look something like Evil Dead II
. The execution is so seamless and perfect that after a few minutes of confusion trying to pick up the pieces, it becomes entertaining enough to make one forget about the change in script. This sounds dubiously like a remake, but several other connections can still be made with the first film. (Like Ash’s first encounter with possession or the return of Linda’s silver pendant, for example.)
Let’s continue with the plot: Ash doesn’t know it, but the voice on a tape that he played to awaken the demons belongs to a professor who was studying the Necronomicon there in the cabin. His daughter and her boyfriend are coming to visit him, unaware of his since untimely passing. Coming along for shits and giggles are a redneck road-crewman, Jake, and his girlfriend, Bobby-Joe, as only Jake knows of a path around the bridge that leads to the cabin. They arrive and think that Ash has murdered the professor. Of course, they are soon proven wrong, as the demons make their presence known and restart their onslaught on fresh victims.
With the introduction of more characters, the second half of the film becomes a physical comedy goldmine. Although Ash’s struggle with his own body parts is vastly entertaining, it can’t support an entire film. With Jake and Bobby Sue, two characters who obviously exist only to be killed off in a ridiculous manner, the avenue is opened for fire hose blood floods, green blood spewed by hatchets, and a revisit of the tree rape from the first film. While in a pure horror film, the introduction of characters who are simply meant to pad the body count is frustrating, in a horror-comedy, it’s the perfect setting for a wonderful slapstick overload.
Now admittedly, the beginning of this review reads as a haphazard study into the film and not a movie review. The purpose of this was to highlight that yes, changes have been made to the universe’s continuity, but the film is good enough that one shouldn’t be obligated to care.