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Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn(1987)
Ash, the sole survivor of The Evil Dead, returns to the same cabin in the woods and again unleashes the forces of the dead. With his girlfriend possessed by demons and his body parts runnning amok, Ash is forced to single-handedly battle the legions of the damned as the most lethal — and groovy — hero in horror movie history!
For more about Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn and the Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray release, see Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on April 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Theodore Raimi
Director: Sam Raimi
» See full cast & crew
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, April 3, 2013
Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead II" (1987) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal. The supplemental features on this release include the film's original theatrical trailer; audio commentary with writer-director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special makeup effects artist Greg Nicotero; seven archival featurettes; promotional materials; new video interview with filmmaker Tony Elwood; and more. In English, without optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The plot of this semi-sequel to the low-budget cult film Evil Dead is simple: Ash (Bruce Campbell, Maniac Cop, My Name is Bruce) and his lovely girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler, Crisis in the Kremlin) enter a cozy mountain cabin where they intend to spend a couple of days alone. Ash discovers a tape from a missing professor who has managed to translate a few chapters from the Book of the Dead and accidentally summons an evil force that immediately goes after him. Soon after, all hell breaks loose.
Everything in Evil Dead II is so over the top that it is impossible not to admire the enthusiasm of all the people that made it back in 1987. Large portions of it look quite rough, but the pure energy and desire to once again do something special with a limited budget makes the film look quite charming.
There is still plenty of gore in Evil Dead II, but this time around there is also a good dose of humor to compliment it. Even in the most gruesome sequences typically there are a couple of hilarious lines that make them easy to endure.
Most of the special effects look seriously dated, but in a film this outrageous more often than not they actually feel appropriate. Admittedly, however, after a while they become repetitive and the film begins to stutter. Especially during the second half, where Ash goes berserk, it is easy to tell that a bigger budget was needed to come up with a few surprising twists.
The acting is good, but one has to be a horror-comedy fan to appreciate what Campbell and the rest of the cast do in front of the camera. Some of their improvisations for instance are so wild that they look uncomfortably grotesque. The best ones are typically courtesy of Campbell, whose excellent facial expressions are indeed a lot of fun to watch.
Cinematographer Peter Deming's lensing is effective, but there is no doubt in my mind that with a bigger budget the film could have been far more diverse. Practically all of his fancy camera tricks feel very familiar. The wild pacing, in particular, works against Deming as he is typically most impressive when he has plenty of time to experiment with light, shadow, and color, as his fantastic work in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive undoubtedly proves.
The film's greatest weakness is the editing. During the second half some of the transitions are just plain bad. The finale also looks disappointingly rushed and cheap, but at least it leads nicely to the much more entertaining Army of Darkness.
Ultimately, despite its flaws Evil Dead II remains a moderately entertaining low-budget horror comedy different people will continue to love simply because it accomplishes what it sets out to do with a great deal of enthusiasm. Nowadays, these types of films can no longer be made.
Note: In 1988, Evil Dead II was nominated for three Saturn Awards, including Best Horror Film and Best Special Effects (Vern Hyde, Doug Beswick, Tom Sullivan).
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of StudioCanal.
I don't have any earlier DVD or Blu-ray releases of this film in my library and therefore cannot offer any specific comments on the type of upgrade it represents. The high-definition transfer used for this release, however, is quite healthy, and I think that most people familiar with the film's various image limitations will be pleased with it.
Detail and especially clarity fluctuate quite a lot. These fluctuations, however, have a lot to do with the manner in which the film was shot - light is consistently restricted and camera movement is often erratic. Many close-ups, however, still boast pleasing depth (see the facial hair in screencapture #3). Some of the larger panoramic shots also look surprisingly good (see screencapture #5), despite the fact that shadow definition is occasionally somewhat problematic. There are traces of careful noise corrections, but some are likely to have been introduced during the post-production process to accomplish a more balanced look. Depth is certainly not compromised. Grain, at times mixed with light noise, is also easy to spot. Color reproduction is satisfying, but I feel that this is an area where additional corrections almost certainly have been performed to maintain some balance as well. Finally, there are no serious stability issues to report in this review. Large debris, cuts, damage marks, and scratches have also been removed as best as possible. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. For the record, StudioCanal have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
I prefer the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track over the 5.1 track. I am aware that the film has appeared on DVD and Blu-ray with all sorts of different 5.1 tracks, but I believe that the 2.0 track is far more appropriate as it is far better balanced. On the 5.1 track there are sudden spikes in dynamic activity that seem either seriously exaggerated or simply misplaced. On the 2.0 track the sound does not feel as forced or uneven. Generally speaking, the dialog is clean and easy to follow on both tracks. My advice to you is to experiment with both, but my first choice is definitely the 2.0 track.
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I believe this new Special Edition of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II from StudioCanal is essentially a replica of the one Lionsgate Films released in the United States in 2011. Fans of the film residing in Region-B territories should be very pleased with it - the film looks good and there is quite an impressive selection of supplemental features to compliment it. RECOMMENDED.
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Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Evil Dead 2 Special Edition Blu-Ray (Updated) - March 1, 2013
StudioCanal have revealed that they are preparing a Special Edition of director Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 (1987), starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, and Dan Hicks. The preliminary release date set by the studio is April 15th.
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