on November 15, 2011
If you've never owned "Evil Dead II" before, or if you've owned it a million times already across VHS, Betamax, LaserDisc, VCD, DVD, and Blu-ray, the new 25th Anniversary Edition by Lionsgate is THE version to have.
Lionsgate apparently returned to the original camera negative for this new transfer, and it shows. Detail is far above and beyond every previous home video release, including the dreaded waxed-over Blu-ray from Anchor Bay. A strong grain structure is present, although some mild DVNR tampering is visible--the grain generally moves as grain ought to, although sometimes it becomes more static, but never at a standstill. Color grading is a lot more dynamic and pleasing with realistic flesh tones and beautiful lighting I swear I've never quite seen before, while the contrast is more stable with night scenes looking appropriately dark, while daytime and near-dusk scenes look more appropriate and fitting than ever before. Black levels are solid, although there have been concerns of black crush being involved--that is, when shadow detail is lost, the shading variances gone and blacks being "crushed" instead. This doesn't appear to be any defect of the mastering, however; the film has always been dark, and it's my belief that the stark, detail-free blacks are due to underexposure during filming. The '98 VHS tape, THX- and DiviMax-mastered DVDs, and original Blu-ray (all from Anchor Bay) that I own all feature the same "problem" (*); I believe it was an artistic decision and one that I find to be visually striking. To top it all off, the original age restriction warning before the Rosebud logo returns, which had been excised from Anchor Bay's Blu-ray.
*(This is not to say that old home video releases are correct and that they should be used as a guideline for how the film should look; old video masters should never be the standard of quality in any respect since they are often very inaccurate to the original film source. I'm simply saying that I doubt very much that ALL of these previous video masters would be so goofed up as to feature the exact same levels of black crush as featured on the Lionsgate Blu-ray, so it is almost definitely part of the original photography. The DiviMax/Book of the Dead DVD and Anchor Bay Blu-ray, by the way, are transferred from the same master.)
Full-res screenshots of the title can be viewed at caps-a-holic, which also compares this release to the Anchor Bay one.
Some may be upset to hear that the wires used to hold up the flying eyeball have been digitally removed. This doesn't bother me since they were never meant to be seen in the first place, but there is a quaintness that is now missing with their removal; far as I can tell, the rest of the wires remain intact, which is odd that they'd only fix the one. If only they'd gone all-out and fixed all the wires, the huge tear in Ted Raimi/Possessed Henrietta's rear, and fixed the shots where unfinished sets are seen. Hey, if you're going to fix one thing, why not fix it all à la "Blade Runner: The Final Cut"? It should be all or nothing; fix it all or leave it well enough alone.
The only audio provided is a DTS-HD 5.1 track with English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles optional. An uncompressed original mono track would have been appreciated (coded as 2.0 dual mono); I've never been too wild over surround re-mixes, especially since only the original mix represents the intentions of the filmmakers. But, the 5.1 mix does the job well enough.
Extras include an all-new 100-minute documentary titled "Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II", split up into several chapters and featuring endearing new stop-motion effects recreating scenes from the film (a whole full-length recreation of the film in this fashion would be a load of fun to see). The doc is fun and informative with a lot of new trivia that I'd never heard before, such as the existence of co-writer Scott Spiegel's short film "Attack of the Helping Hand" and its influence on the "Evil Dead II" script. A 30-minute behind-the-scenes production video is also provided, showing off among other things scenes which were deleted during the editing process which all have plenty of fascinating effects, and it's unfortunate that these scenes were not found and restored for this Blu-ray release as separate deleted scenes. A 7-minute return to the shooting locations is also new, and the standard definition "The Gore the Merrier" and Tom Sullivan photo commentary featurettes from the Anchor Bay DVDs are provided as well. The movie commentary is the same entertaining one which has been around since I believe one of the LaserDisc releases. The US trailer is thankfully presented in HD, and there are HD photo galleries as well.
"Evil Dead II", the fantastic sequel to the low-budget, DIY "The Evil Dead" (it's NOT a remake; the first seven minutes merely recap the first movie since rights to the footage could not be acquired), has never looked this pretty and detailed on home video, and is DEFINITELY worth the upgrade. (The THX-mastered DVD from 2000 can finally be retired.) Strangely, the restoration and transfer is not of the same caliber as Bob Murawski and Anchor Bay's work on the first film, so it's unfortunate that Lionsgate did not throw at the project quite the same amount of money and talent as the first film's HD restoration received, but it's an impressive transfer nonetheless, and the film has certainly never looked this good beyond its original theatrical exhibition. HIGHLY recommended for fans of this insane splatter comedy masterpiece and for newcomers as well. Sadly, the disc is Region A-locked. Sorry, overseas fans; hopefully you'll see this transfer released in your area before long.
Now if only "Army of Darkness" (both theatrical and director's cuts) would receive a Blu-ray release that doesn't look like sun-baked vomit. At least the NTSC Region 3 DVD put out by MGM exists.
on January 15, 2005
Up until this past year's hilarious "Shaun of the Dead," this film, "Evil Dead II," really had no competition whatsoever for the funniest Horror film ever made. It would be easy to rave about this Cult Classic filled with trick photography, stop-motion animation, over-the-top gore-soaked casualties, Bruce Campbell's charming chin, and one of the most underrated endings in film history, but I will point out why this particular DVD is exceptional instead. What makes this DVD rock is that the sound has been digitally remastered into THX surround sound. The sound-effects in this film are essential to magnify the humor and horror to its great heights. The other reason to get this DVD is the commentary which includes writer-director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. I swear that listening to these guys self-deprecate and otherwise rip on themselves and the movie is as much fun as watching this film for the very first time. No kidding. I was rolling with laughter. For the quintessential backstory on this film may I recommend Bruce Campbell's thoroughly enjoyable book, "If Chins Could Kill," which is loaded with reminiscences about his time before, during, and after making this landmark Horror film classic. "Evil Dead II" is a necessary purchase for any Horror film afficionado. Highly recommended.
on August 30, 2000
It comes in a groovy little tin with the European poster style on the top and inside has the booklet, a little ad for the video game and the dvd itself.
The booklet claims to have "rare photos", but it's just pictures from scenes throughout the movie that we've seen before- nothing special, but has some good insights from the special effects guys and Bruce.
Now for the DVD
I was really pleased with the extras- the commentary was a lot of fun- I enjoyed it more than the first Evil Dead special edition because Sam Raimi actually throws in a lot more tidbits with Bruce and friends to back him up. There were no long pauses, everyone had something interesting to say and it's just a lot of fun listening to them mock the dialogue and point out the mistakes. Plus, there's only four people on the commentary so no one is overwhelmed and we can hear everyone talking- I think too many people on commentaries can be frustrating. Also find out what Kurt Russel's fav. line is from "Evil Dead 2" in a quite hilarious memory Bruce brings up.
"The Gore The Merrier" featurette was very cool- it's lengthy too so we get to see a lot of the cool effects being made and used in the final product. We also see Raimi, Campbell and the rest of the crew clowning around and also a ridiculous/funny little skit that the special effects team came up with- about a baby that comes back from the dead for revenge. The documentary was shot with a crappy camera, but back in '86'87- home video cameras sucked anyway so I wasn't surprised- it's fine though- just a little grainy.
The theatrical trailer was edited very well- I hadn't seen it before and I was pretty impressed how spooky they made it.
The video game preview is awesome- like a teaser trailer, but it's really neat- gotta see it for yourself.
The bios only consist of Bruce and Raimi, but they're better than most bios you find on dvds.
Photos- no big deal- some candid shots.
Widescreen and full screen formats- sweet. Love it when they have both.
And...sound is great. Overall, nearly poi-fect dvd- I just would've liked some out-takes- cuz we know there was a lot of laughing going on from the reminiscing we hear on the commentary.
Buy it- definately worth it- great menu too, pretty much everything is worth mentioning!
on August 10, 2000
Bruce Campbell is back as Ash, the loveable, gun-toting S-mart employee turned demon killer overnight. After a slight, altered rehashing of what happened in the first Evil Dead we get to see Ash kill more demons spawned from idiots who read/listen to the Necronomicon! But wait, there's more! When Ash's hand gets "possessed" he has to take drastic measures, and that's where the true fun begins! The fight scenes involving Ash's hand have to be some of the funniest instances of pure comic genius ever put on screen. Bruce Campbell is the reigning King of Horror heroism and the Evil Dead 2 is a must for any Horror fan's collection. Any movie where someone attaches a chainsaw to his arm as a prostethic replacement needs to be watched over and over again! So if you haven't bought this movie yet do it now, who knows when you'll be in a deserted cabin fighting demons for your very soul! Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, pure classic Horror!
on May 22, 2007
Allow me to preface this review with a helpful fact. A few years back when Spin Magazine was writing about the films they felt were the greatest of the 20th century, they chose to include Sam Raimi's sequel to his very first film; which was a small independent horror called The Evil Dead. The Evil Dead was a great film in it's own right, however, the editors at Spin wanted to give Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn the recognition they felt it deserved. So they placed it at the top of their list...that's right, they felt that it is, in fact, the single greatest cinematic achievement of the 20th century.
Evil Dead 2 follows Ash Williams and his girlfriend into a small creepy Michigan cottage where they stumble upon some recordings that contain readings from an ancient relic called the book of the dead, and by playing these recordings they unleash demonic supernatural forces that quickly haunt and possess everything from the trees outside and Popeye's lamp to Ash's hand and his girlfriend's severed head. The shenanigans unfold and Ash is more game than perhaps anyone to take on these evil forces as best as he can, but some sort of defeat is consistently inevitable.
As a reader I hope you are not anticipating my rebuttal to Spin Magazine here. I just so happen to concur 100% with Spin's gutsy assertion. On the surface of Evil Dead 2, we are seeing vintage 80s shock horror but it certainly isn't presented deeply enough to qualify amongst the failures within that genre. Evil Dead 2 is microcosmically structured like classic slapstick and macrocosmically it functions as pure satire. In this sense it's budget is used firmly to it's advantage and runs together with the theme of making a select audience laugh, first and foremost. Those who are both distinctly either disturbed by gore or preoccupied by gore as a strength in horror, should take keen note that gore in this film is applied almost exclusively for physical slapstick comedy. Those who hate gore will hate it here and those who love to be immersed in gore may not understand or appreciate it's use in Evil Dead 2.
We get to see a chubby fruit cellar witch's soul-swallowing head extend via shoddy stop-motion effects. We get to see an eyeball pop out of her head and shoot across the room into some chick's mouth. We get so see blood spray humorously and pretty consistently out of the walls and floors of the cottage. We get to see Ash fight his hand, cut it off, and add a chainsaw to where his hand once was. We get to see him kill his girlfriend and fight both her severed head and headless body in a tool shed at the same time. We get to see Ash get clumsily chased around the house by a force of evil we never see. We also get to see the volume of slapstick comedy increase as the film goes on and finally we get to see a conclusion that still makes me kind of wish they never made a sequel (even though Army of Darkness is in and of itself a very good movie).
Evil Dead 2 may require a deeper degree of movie history appreciation, perhaps more specifically to exploitation and horror films. I know I sound like a movie snob saying that but the film does offer some fun and fitting tributes or references to past films. I think it is definitely fair to say that Raimi has a great appreciation for movies in general and we can plainly see that he has so much fun making them. Evil Dead 2 for me is fun, affable, and carefree; it is all the things it shouldn't be on it's surface, and it is perfect for that fact alone.
on February 28, 2010
The blu-ray transfer is average at best. On a 50 inch screen its limitations are very evident. For example, the scene in the car at the beginning is very grainy and soft. This is a recurring problem, as is edge enhancement (e.g., when the demon comes for Ash towards the end). The good news is that once the blood (of many colours) starts to fly, the film becomes much more vibrant (as you would expect) to watch. Thus, reds, blacks, greens are a lot of fun in HD. Special effects are also noticeably underdone on blu-ray. One thing I did particularly enjoy was some aspects of the sound design. It often sounds like it was recorded at the bottom of a well, but one part of the film is great. Having seen the film in the theatre when first released, the zooming sound of the demon chasing Ash in the first part of the film is important for the impact it lends to that scene. In the blu-ray, it is very well done, moving around the listening room, and with a lot of nice bass extension and dynamic range (something the DVD lacks). Evil Dead II is a funhouse ride. You either love Raimi's demented sense of humour or you don't. I am an Evil Dead fan, so this is good enough for now, especially if you can pick it up at $9.99 (it was that price on Amazon, back in December 2009). If you want a reference quality copy of the film on blu-ray, this is not it.
Evil Dead 2, while technically a sequel, holds very little in common with "Evil Dead." Evil Dead was one of the scariest, creepiest, and grossest films I've ever seen. Evil Dead 2 is one of the funniest!
The gore in Evil Dead II is WAY over the top. (If you've seen Arthur's battle with the Black Knight in "Monty Python's Holy Grail"... THAT'S the sort of gore I'm talking about.) Campy lines are thrown around in here the like you've not heard since the Batman TV series.
The Premise: Ash (Ashley Williams for those who saw the first one) and his girlfriend drive up to a secluded cabin in the woods for a weekend of fun. They come across a tape recording of ancient incantations...that, when played, release an unseen evil that stalks them. When the cabin owner's daughter and team show up, the evil comes for them all!
If you don't try to take this movie seriously, you won't be dissapointed. One of the film's scenes was once rated in the top ten fight scenes of all time: Ash versus... his hand.
Now, for the DVD goodies!
First, the DVD and "booklet" come in a tin! I was impressed by the tin and the arwork on it, but the booklet is a bit of a let-down. The pictures in it are simply screen grabs (and not very good ones) from the movie.
THX and Widescreen add back what's been missing all these years. It's nice to see (clearer!) all of the bits we've been missing and the 5.1 audio tracks make those chase scenes sound like you're right there!
The featurette 'The Gore the Merrier' is fantastic and left me wanting more! It would be great to see more of the behind the scenes antics of this crew, as it's plain to see (hear in the commentary) that they had fun making the film.
And, the teaser for the video game "Evil Dead: Hail to the King" has me chomping at the bit! I can't wait to play a game as Ash! "You want a little??"
If you're an Evil Dead fan, this Limited Edition MUST be in your collection. If you just like slapstick/comedy/horror, you can't lose with this one.
When it comes down to it, if legions of undead started roaming the Earth, I'd want Ash nearby! Not just for protection, but also for comic relief!
on January 21, 2000
I rented all 3 Evil Dead movies one night, and I have to say that I enjoyed this one the best out of the three. This one basically cuts out a lot of what happened in the first Evil Dead movie; some of the characters are deleted, and it takes a few minutes to realize what is going on. Still though, this one has more of a comedic spin than the first one. Ash and his girlfriend travel to a cabin in the middle of nowhere to spend a few days, and accidentally end up unleashing the evil spirits that surround the woods. Then when help finally arrives, the trouble starts all over again, and Ash finds himself in a climactic battle with the ultimate incarnation of evil, before being sucked into a timehole and landing right in the Middle Ages. Make sense? Of course not! But who cares! With Bruce Campbell's brilliant heroic/comedic performance, mixed in with the obviously-over-the-top gore and humor, this film is simply brilliant from beginning to end, the best of the three Evil Dead movies. Get it!
on September 26, 2005
"Legend has it that it was written by the Dark Ones--Necronomicon Ex Mortis, roughly translated, Book of the Dead. The Book served as a passageway to the evil worlds beyond. It was written long ago, when the seas ran red with blood. It was this blood that was used to ink the Book. In the year 1300 AD, the Book disappeared."
Well, Anchor Bay has done it again.
I don't subscribe to that philosophy that there can be too much of a good thing. Don't get me wrong, endless double dipping video releases are quite commonplace nowadays, and I have been guilty of indulging in re-buying for added disks and new features. Sometimes I wait for extended editions (Lord of the Rings, anybody?)
But, I don't even remotely consider the release of Evil Dead II, Book of the Dead edition as double dipping. This is an entirely different proposition.
Everyone that is lucky enough to own a copy of the deluxe edition of Evil Dead knows what I mean. It's not just a DVD, it's a packaging delight (and makes for one HELL of a Halloween decoration.) And now, Anchor Bay gives us another Halloween gift...The Book of the Dead- Evil Dead 2 style. Amazingly rendered, incredibly well sculpted.
Features? Widescreen Edition. Unrated. The insanely funny commentary from Raimi, Campbell, Spiegel and Nicotero. The FANTASTIC "The Gore The Merrier" featurette. Theatrical trailer. Talent bios. AND.....a new feature; Evil Dead 2: Behind the Screams. Gone is the horrible advert for "Hail to the King"....I mean, who wants to see a video game promo? This is Evil Dead 2 CANON. Only thing missing that I can tell is a full screen edition (bleah) and Still Galleries (whatever.)
This is what you call ULTIMATE Edition. If you haven't bought Evil Dead 2 before, this is the one. If you have, it's still the one. I'm planning to give my old copy to a friend of mine, to get them hooked on it.
on June 7, 2004
Well, we've got a comedy here my friends. Lotsa people like to throw around the term horror-comedy when describing this, but I don't think that's quite appropriate. While it uses a horror setting, it virtually never seems to be trying to work on a horror movie level, so I'm not really comfortable using the term horror in the description. On the other hand, calling it a spoof or parody doesn't really decribe it either, as too much of the humor seems to be unrelated to the horror setting. But, all that aside this is a pretty funny movie, and a rather 'cool' movie as well, for lack of a better term.
Unlike everyone else in the world, this is not my favorite of the series. In fact, it's my least favorite. However, it still stands up quite well, and is definitely worth your time. Despite the fact that it shares the setting of the original, this one has far more in common with Army of Darkness then the original, as it focuses on fast-moving and ridiculous comedic setups. It's largely a means for Campbell to do physical comedy and ham it up amusingly, and showcase lots of intentionally dated, but still cool special effects. Sadly, Ash isn't quite as amusing as he'd become in the next film. He's not nearly as angry/surly as he'd become, which I always thought was more important to humor of the film than the physical comedy. But he's still pretty damn amusing. Raimi's visual flair is as good here as ever. The 'force' shots are much improved from the already superb ones in the original. The famed scene of it endlessly chasing Ash around the cabin is especially noteworthy. He also does some nice stuff with the sky as well, particuarly a great shot of Ash in front of a ridiculously enormous sun.
The film starts off with a simplified recap of the first film, concluding with Ash's burial of Linda and his being assaulted by 'the force'. The briefly possessed Ash is exorcised by the rising sun, but the bridge is still out, and there is no other apparent means of escape, so he is forced to wait it out in the cabin. The first half of the movie, before the other characters arrive, is the better part. Most of the stuff involving Linda is quite amusing, particularly her stop-motion animated dancing out in the moonlight. The best part, however, has to be the scene where Linda's decapitated head attacks Ash. It's simple, mindless physical comedy, but his frantically running around trying to smash it off is just great. Probably the best scene in the film. I'm also especially found of how the head just spontaneously falls on him from above, without any explanation of how it could've gotten in the cabin, or up above his head, for that matter. The stuff with his evil and later severed hand is quite amusing too. The fact that it is inexplicably talking all the time is the real kicker to the whole set-up. The laughing house scene is quite cool as well, particuarly the disturbing deer head. It's not really funny or scary or exciting, but it's very, very weird, and works quite well.
The arrival of the other characters hurts the film a bit, partially because I find some of them to be rather annoying.(Most notably Jake, and, to a lesser extent, his girlfried, Bobbie Joe.) Of course, I think he's meant to be a bit irritating, but that doesn't really make him much more enjoyable to watch. Fortunately, he's largely redeemed by an extremely amusing death scene.
Despite not being quite as consistent or energetic as the first half, the second half still delivers. The fight with Evil Ed is a nice sendup of Shelley's death from the first film, and the final confrontation with Henrietta is delightful.(Film makers really need to use stop-motion animation more often these days) The fight with the rotten apple head isn't quite as good of a climax as I'd have liked, but it's still pretty decent, and does a good job of raising the stakes in terms of sheer ridiculousness.(particularly when Ash plunges his chainsaw into the creatures eye, and it sprays out hideous blue blood)
A few closing notes. First of all, as others have mentioned, although the DVD comes with both widescreen and fullscreen, the widescreen version just appears to have the top and bottom matted. (i.e. you see less in the widescreen version, not more) Since the Anchor Bay release comes with both it's not much of a concern, but it's good to know. Secondly, this movie has a reputation for being very gory, which is not exactly deserved. It's just too ridiculous to even be desribed as being gory in the conventional sense, as it generally uses ultra fake blood that isn't even red,(with either incredibly thick or incredibly water texture) and silly, incredibly plastery limbs.(That, and there just isn't all that much gore in it anyway) To say this is very gory is like saying that old Warner Brothers cartoons are very violent. You're technically correct, but you probably give completely the wrong impression to someone who's never seen the piece your talking about.
Anyways, this is good. Check it out.