14 Days: Skin-Crawlingly Awful and I Love It – DeadMan’s Evil Dead Trilogy Review
If you read my Drag Me to Hell review, you know that I have a very special place in my heart for Sam Raimi’s first series of films, The Evil Dead trilogy.You would also know that I had been wondering why I haven’t reviewed any of these movies yet. Well, now I’m gonna review all three.
The Evil Dead, released 1981, was one the first horror movies I had ever seen. It was about a group of friends who rent an old cabin out in the woods for a couple of days. Once there they discover this weird old book and a recording from a professor who had translated the book. Turns out the book is the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, also known as the Book of the Dead. “Bound in human flesh and inked in human blood,” if you read the book out loud demons are summoned and really fuck shit up. Once the recording is finished, shit does indeed get fucked when one of the girls runs outside, gets raped by a tree (Yes, you read that right) and then possessed. From there it is up to Ashley J. “Ash” Williams, played by B-movie god Bruce Campbell, to keep everyone alive with a hatchet and his trusty boomstick. This is probably the scariest of the trio, being that it has not skewed into the horror-comedy genre just yet. In the 80’s, the special effects were pretty much up to par with everything else that was out there. It still has all the arterial spray and weird zombie lips as its sequels and set up the look for the sequels as well. One really good thing about all of these movies is that we never actually see the horrible demonic force that is terrorizing the campers. Whenever we are shown it chasing someone we just see the camera following them and the people freaking the fuck out. Even when it is smashing through windows and busting down doors we never see it, which kind of makes it more ominous. If they had shown it it would have been some shitty puppet and would make it look kinda stupid. The possessed can look like that because they are just shitty little peons serving the ultimate evil that we can never see, and I think it works really well.
6 years after The Evil Dead comes Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. Now this movie starts out a little weird. It is kind of a retelling of the first movie but some things have been changed. Ash, our protagonist, comes out to the cabin in the woods with his girlfriend. Just the two of them, none of their friends like in the first one. While up there they find the Necronomicon and release the evil demons from the forest. They possess Ash’s girlfriend and he has to kill her. He goes kinda crazy and then we catch up to the end of the first film and away we go. Ash’s hand becomes possessed and we are introduced to the new characters: The daughter of the guy who translated the Book, her boyfriend and some hillbillies. When Ash and these people meet it is essentially the first movie again with people getting picked off one by one and some getting possessed. This time around, though, things have gotten funnier. Near the beginning when cuts off his hand he has to try to shoot it. It runs into a wall and starts taunting him as he tries to shoot it with a double-barrel with only one hand. He misses and the hand gets caught in a mousetrap. Ash starts laughing his ass off and the hand flips him off. There are a couple of moments like this that make the movie a little lighter than the first but still just as good. Not only does this movie introduce the humor of the series but also the marionette demons. Most of the possessed people dance around like they have wires attached to their wrists. This movie also introduces Ash’s signature look, mainly the chainsaw hand and the sawed-off shotty, as well as Ash’s personality of the cocky asshole who thinks he is so awesome. And that is because he is so awesome.
Another 6 years later, Army of Darkness comes out. Again set right after the previous movie, it starts with a little setup recapping the first two movies and some back story about Ash when he was working at S-Mart (Shop smart, shop S-Mart). In medieval times, Ash is about to be executed being mistaken for an enemy of the kingdom he was in. Thrown into a pit of deadites (that’s what they call the zombies) he kills them and is told he is the one of prophecy who will save the kingdom from the Book. Along the way they introduce the first love interest for Ash, a princess who gets real ugly (ha-HA!). This movie continues the tradition of horror comedy from Dead by Dawn and makes Ash a bit more of a badass. He kicks the shit out of a deadite and gets a headshot on her without even looking at her. Ash also gets smarter, managing to build himself a working robotic hand and shotgun shells using a high school chemistry book. The titular Army of Darkness is led by Ash’s first nemesis, Dark Ash, a fucked up version of Ash spawned by the Book. He is a pretty interesting villain and is pretty funny when he has to deal with the skeleton soldiers of his Army. This is probably the most awesome of the movies with all the shit Ash is doing and everything that happens later that I won’t spoil for you. The acting is on par with the previous movies with the same level of special effects.
The effects, the protagonist, the comedy and Bruce Campbell are all the staples of The Evil Dead trilogy and each one holds strong in all the 3 movies (except the comedy). The first one, one of the scariest horror movies I have ever seen, set up the framework for the franchise and showed what Raimi and his team could do with horror. The second one brought about the comedy and the character. The third one brought about badassness, awesomeness and utter insanity. All 3 come together to make one of the greatest trilogies I have ever had the pleasure of viewing, and I highly recommend everyone should see these movies.
Final Score: 5/5