...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn

84 min. | Dir. Sam Raimi | Rated R

I saw the first Evil Dead at a friend’s house when I was a kid, and it scared me cock-eyed. The story of five co-eds going to a cabin in the woods (yes, yes, it’s a trope) who then fight and/or become possessed by evil spirits was shot on the cheap and, for someone who hadn’t grown up on indie movies, was all the scarier for it. It was like watching cinema veritĂ©. Because of this terror I refused to watch the sequel—essentially a higher budget remake of the original—until I was an adult. What I feared would haunt my dreams turned out to be a live action Chuck Jones cartoon. The anything-goes ethos of the movie results in the most comedic (and copious) bloodletting one could (or could not) imagine, precipitated by, among other creepies, an undead succubus, a killer severed hand, maniacal trees, and a giant, human-eating head sprouting the heads of the humans it’s eaten. Oh, and a liberal use of a chainsaw. Star Bruce Campbell—he of the iron jaw and broad acting chops—is tossed around like Wile E. Coyote and filmed in a surreal, off-kilter, just barely slowed down camera speed. The whole thing feels like a funhouse more than a nightmare. It is, in a word, groovy. (Friday, Mondo Celluloid at the Art Theatre.) //CHRIS DAVIDSON

[Publised last week in The District.]

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