Evil Dead II (1987)

Let me first admit I feel really silly writing a blog post about Evil Dead II. I mean, it’s a classic; what could I say that you haven’t already heard or thought yourself? But since this is truly supposed to be a log of all movies I watch as I watch them (except maybe SyFy originals – because they’re just not worth it), I’d be remiss to exclude it.

I’m sure you know the story, but in case you live in a cave… Bruce Campbell plays Ash, a dude who brings his girlfriend to a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend getaway. Not long after their arrival Ash finds a recording of someone reading aloud passages from the Necronomicon, which is bad news, ’cause the dead start to rise and wreak havoc, turning his girlfriend into a zombie-demon and threatening to do the same to him and a few other folks who have joined us along the way.

Not really a sequel, Evil Dead II is like a comedy remake of its predecessor. As I watched it this time around, I kept thinking about what a fine line there is between really good horror/comedy and the Troma trash that litters the horror genre. I’m sure most would agree Evil Dead II belongs in the former category – it’s perhaps even one of the best. Over the top? Absolutely. Out to piss off, offend or alienate? Certainly not.

This is a conversation I’m party to quite often: just because you get the joke, doesn’t mean you can’t screw it up. If you want to do camp right, all the elements have to be in exactly the right place and at the proper volume. It’s a delicate balance that goes horribly rotten all too often. Sometimes it’s hard to put my finger on just exactly what goes wrong in such a case, but a movie like the wretched Blood Diner comes to mind as a perfect example of what not to do – it touts a negative, nasty tone and turns it up to eleven. It is tasteless in the worst way. Clearly the idiots that made Blood Diner get the joke, on some level: they know bad exploitation movies and boy, they aren’t afraid to show it – in fact, it’s the only joke they’ve got to work with. But clearly they’re missing something, and thinking they get it but screwing it up royally makes the movie that much worse.  Evil Dead II on the other hand does it just right. No, you can’t call it tasteful – it is not the opposite of Blood Diner and other disasters of its kind, but maybe it’s like the difference between organic and genetically modified: on the outside both look the same, but the guts are different: one is real, and the other is artificial. One has heart and the other soulless. Ultimately, maybe the difference is simply that Evil Dead II is harmless. The jokes aren’t out to hurt anyone.

This is all related to, if not a perfect example of Q’s Quadrants. These movies undeniably go in different quadrants (though for our purposes I’d probably change ‘badass’ to ‘juvenile’ or ‘tasteless’ – and maybe ‘thoughtful’ isn’t the best word one could use to describe Evil Dead II, it works well enough), and so plotting them on the graph is a sort of visual representation of all I’ve said above. What does it mean? Fucked if I know, and even if I did I’d probably be unable to articulate it, but it sure is fun to think about, and it’s one reason why I enjoy watching movies – even the ones I hate.


2 Responses to “Evil Dead II (1987)”

  1. November 10, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    “I mean, it’s a classic; what could I say that you haven’t already heard or thought yourself?” I have that problem too; tons of good movies are missing from my blog because I figure that the world doesn’t need another review of them. But I like your musings on what makes good camp vs bad camp. The good ones do seem to have heart, and that’s why people love Ed Wood, for example.

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