I’m grouping The Evil Dead and The Evil Dead II together not to point out how similar they were, but to highlight the beauty of watching them back to back. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, the Michigan duo who started their career with a little (and truly remarkable) short film called Within the Woods, finally rounded up enough dough to complete The Evil Dead, a gory, maniacal, frenzied treasure of a horror film. Campbell plays Ashley (later, just Ash), a nice enough but goofy looking guy who goes to a cabin in the woods with his friends and they get possessed and then he has to kill them all and it’s totally messed up. But awesome. You could see even then, with a shoestring budget and the threat of having to shut the project down (as the notorious stories go), Raimi’s vision coming to life in all its twisted excellence. Exhibit A: the excellent 360 degree shot of the basement. Exhibit B: the sequence spanning from when they pull onto that grassy road to when they unlock the cabin door in the beginning of the film. Hell, when you have a camera move named after you (The Raimi perspective, after the Evil Dead p.o.v. cam), you had to be doing something right.
Enter The Evil Dead II. Campbell plays Ashley, a nice enough but goofy looking guy who goes to a cabin in the woods with his girlfriend and she gets possessed and then he has to kill her, but not before she bites his hand and his hand gets possessed by the evil dead and after it slaps him around a bit he chops it off with a chainsaw. Some other people show up, but they have to go. The second film is great in very different ways than the first Evil Dead, which is why you need to see both of them, preferably back to back. Both of them have strong elements that compliment one another, both are totally kickass. And plus, if you ever get caught talking to one of those pretentious film dorks who think they know everything, just tell them two things: 1: you still own an original VHS copy of The Evil Dead, and 2: you were definitely glad that Sam decided to drop the Indian burial ground idea from Within the Woods, even though Within the Woods had some totally stellar compositional arrangements. If that doesn’t work, make up some sort of Nordic sounding name and declare that he is the master of Scandinavian mumble core cinema, then get the hell out of there.