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PCU Classics: The Evil Dead 2 – 1987

For the purposes of full disclosure, I wasn’t really a fan of the original Evil Dead. There was nothing particularly captivating about it for me, and, for lack of a better description, it didn’t grab me. Evil Dead 2 and the franchise’s shift from pure horror to horror comedy is what really makes the Evil Dead franchise special. Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) as a sarcastic, over the top, slapstick hero thrust into a battle against demonically possessed deadites is still entertaining almost 30 years after its original release. The importance of Evil Dead 2 is apparent as every subsequent depiction of Ash, whether it’s in film or television (Army of Darkness, Ash vs. Evil Dead) or in comics (Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness) in its DNA is linked to back to how he’s depicted here.

It feels wrong to describe Evil Dead 2 as a sequel, because the film really does not mention the original Evil Dead. It feels more accurate to refer to it as a reboot. As in the original film, Ash is headed to a secluded cabin; however, this time instead of traveling with friends from college, he’s traveling with his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler). Fairly quickly, he stumbles upon the Necronomicon and the recording of the incantations as read by Professor Knowby. Ash unknowingly plays the recording, thereby unleashing the deadites. (I have to note that this is a much more believable way of the Necronomicon’s power being unleased than in the 2013 Evil Dead remake. Please people do not read a book if it is wrapped in barbwire!). The arrival of Professor Knowby’s daughter Annie, her boyfriend Professor Ed Getley, along with (random) locals Jake and Bobbi Joe at the cabin ensure that there will be an appropriate body count.

What makes this movie and Evil Dead as a franchise work is Bruce Campbell. His performance is one of the best examples of traditional slapstick comedy. Ash’s attempt to kill his right hand after it’s been possessed is one of the highlights of the entire film series. While that same scene without humor could genuinely be terrifying (ex. Natalie removing her arm in the reboot), here the horror is still there but the comedy gives the scene another dimension. I’d be negligent if I didn’t mention Ash’s shotgun (aka the boom stick) and the chainsaw. Rationally they would not be tools I would pick to fight off deadites but in Ash’s hands it just feels groovy.

Between the over-the-top old-school physical comedy that only Bruce Campbell could provide, the unpredictable nature of the story, and the genuine sense of dread that the Necronomicon produces, Evil Dead 2 is truly unique in straddling the line of funny and scary. The only real knock against the movie is that it took five years for the sequel Army of Darkness to be released. Ultimately Ash has become one of the most iconic horror movie characters or all time, and Evil Dead 2 is what put him on that path.

PCU Classics Rating: Four out of Five boom Sticks.

About Armand (1275 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill
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