Evil Dead II [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Anchor Bay/Starz Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andy James & Noor Razzak (13th November 2008).
The Film

What can one say about Sam Raimiís "Evil Dead II" that hasnít already been said, in the hundreds of reviews, articles, essays and memoirs that have been written since itís release? The plot itself can be summed up easily enough: Bruce Campbellís Ash takes his girlfriend out to a cabin in the woods for a romantic weekend. After unwittingly awakening the dead horror, and hilarity, ensues.

Essentially a remake of Raimiís own "Evil Dead" (1981) (he says itís a sequel, debate still rages. I say remake.), everything has been pared down to the necessities. The recitation of the Necronomicon and the subsequent slaying and shovel decapitation of Ashís main squeeze happens early on. From there the main, decaying body of the film is Ash quickly losing his mind, including a bravura set piece with a room of laughing furniture (and hey, a maniacally laughing deer head. Hilarious yet frightening).

Campbell turns in an amazing performance Ė giving his all to the madcap shenanigans. He throws himself about with no regard for pain (and obviously enjoying putting his leading man through such a gauntlet), his face gurning and gaping. Itís hard to believe his eyes donít pop out of his head in one of his many wide-eyed maniacal laughing scenes.

The influence of the "Three Stooges" on him and Raimi comes through in blinding force. If the Stooges had, for some reason, decided to make a balls to the wall horror filmÖ itís doubtful it would have been any good, actually. But channeled through Raimi and Co. the result is a gloriously blood spattered affair. Campbell chases his self-amputated possessed hand, fountains of blood erupt out of the floor and ceiling and Ted Raimi plays a fantastically demonical old woman. The violence is comedic, and the comedy is violent.

Quite honestly if you have even the slightest interest in film you will have seen Raimiís "Evil Dead" trilogy (1981-1992). And if you havenít, what are you doing reading this nonsense? Get some beers, popcorn and have a night in with the Deadites.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this film is delivered to fans for the first time in high-definition in 1080p 24/fps and has been mastered in AVC MPEG-4 compression. Like the other two "Evil Dead" films this one has been released and re-released so many times the sheer number of editions available will make your head spin... from video to laserdisc to numerous DVD's and now on HD the transfer have all varied in quality, but one thing for sure is that they got better through the formats and although this transfer has it's problems it's probably the best the film has looked. The problems are a combination of inherent problems with the original print and some mastering flaws that pop up. To begin with the blacks are noisy and as a result appear murky and crushed, grain is all over the place, some dirt and specks can be seen. To make matters worse there were several instances of edge-enhancement... on the plus side the image looks a little sharper than previous DVD versions, the colors are muted but accurately represented here and the image feels like it has a bit more depth to it (but only just). It's a better transfer than that on DVD but still far form being amazing, keep in mind that the film's low budget, shooting style and general ramshackle nature tends to influence the overall look and quality of the image, so not much can be done about that.

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in English uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround mixed at 48 kHz/16-Bit /4.6Mbps as well as in English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. For the purposes I chose to view the film with its PCM track, along with the multiple releases on DVD came multiple sound mixed attached to those releases from the original mono to Dolby 5.1 and DTS tracks. This PCM track is a significant improvement over those previous standard-def audio tracks, the dialogue is clean and distortion free, action packed moments feel aggressive and sound effects feel natural. Ambience is limited, range is there but although the track sounds good there are moments that feel a little flat.
Optional subtitles are included in English only.

Extras

Anchor Bay has released this film on Blu-ray with an audio commentary, two featurettes and a theatrical trailer. Below is a closer look at these supplements.

First up is a feature-length audio commentary with director/co-writer Sam Raimi, actor/co-producer Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. Like other Raimi films the commentary tracks are usually jovial, light and very entertaining, such is the case with this track. Fans that have previous editions of the DVD will have already listened to this track, but for those that re new to the film will get a real kick out of it. It's such a enjoyable track to listen to covering the production of the film, sharing their memories from the shooting, pointing out their favorite moments and providing background on the various scenes, characters and set-ups.

"The Gore The Merrier" is a featurette that runs for 31 minutes 50 seconds and explores the film's practical effects and creature design, as well as features archival photos from the shoot and interviews with key cast and crew about the film and it's gory effects and also the make-up designed for the film.

"Evil Dead II: Behind The Screams" featurette runs for 17 minutes 6 seconds and features production photos narrated by animator Tom Sullivan. It's short but still interesting look at these photographs.

Following that is "Fast Film Facts" a trivia track that pops-up information about the film as you watch it, this feature is a fairly standard trivia track with information that most fans would already know. This feature is a Blu-ray exclusive extra.

Rounding out the extras is the film's original theatrical trailer runs for 1 minute 26 seconds.

Overall

The Film: A Video: C- Audio: B- Extras: B Overall: B-

 


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