Evil Dead II (also known as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn) is an American comedy horror movie, released in 1987. Standing as a sequel to 1981's The Evil Dead, the film was directed by Sam Raimi, written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, produced by Rob Tapert and starred Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. The film was followed by a sequel of its own in 1993 entitled: Army of Darkness.
It is here that the film picks up where its predecessor left off. Ash becomes briefly possessed by the demon, but when day breaks the spirit is gone, and Ash is back to normal. Ash makes an attempt to escape but is unable to. Fearing for his life Ash attacks and is subdued when two new couples arrive at the cabin.
At first, he is mistaken for a murderer by the four because the professor and his wife are missing and Ash is covered in blood. Ash is soon proven innocent as the evil forces continue to attack. Now they all have to work to survive the attacks and find a way to send the evil back to whence it came.
Sam Raimi lost the rights to Part 1 and for legal reasons could not show any footage from the first one. Instead they did an extremely simplified version of The Evil Dead (spanning 7 minutes and 7 seconds of The Evil Dead II). The recreation of the final shot of The Evil Dead is the bridge into the new material.
The concept of a sequel to The Evil Dead was discussed during the location shooting on the first film. Sam Raimi wanted to toss his hero, Ash, through a time portal, back into the Middle Ages. That notion eventually led to the third installment, Army of Darkness.
After the release of Evil Dead, Raimi moved on to Crimewave, a cross between a crime film and a comedy produced by Raimi and Joel and Ethan Coen. Irvin Shapiro, a publicist who was primarily responsible for the mainstream release of The Evil Dead, suggested that they next work on an Evil Dead sequel. Raimi scoffed at the idea, expecting Crimewave to be a hit, but Shapiro put out ads announcing the sequel regardless.
After Crimewave was released to little audience or critical acclaim, Raimi and Tapert, knowing that another flop would further stall their already lagging careers, took Shapiro up on his offer. Around the same time, they met Italian movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, the owner of production and distribution company DEG. He had asked Raimi if he would direct a theatrical adaptation of the Stephen King (written under his Richard Bachman pseudonym) novel Thinner. Raimi turned down the offer, but De Laurentiis continued to be interested in the young filmmaker.
The Thinner adaptation was part of a deal between De Laurentiis and King to produce several adaptations of King's successful horror fiction. At the time, King was directing the first such adaptation, Maximum Overdrive, based on his short story "Trucks". He had dinner with a crewmember who had been interviewed about the Evil Dead sequel, and told King that the film was having trouble attracting funding. Upon hearing this, King, who had written a glowing review of the first film that helped it become an audience favorite at Cannes, called De Laurentiis and asked him to fund the film.
Though initially skeptical, De Laurentiis agreed after being presented with the extremely high Italian grosses for the first film. Although Raimi and Tapert had desired $4 million for the production, they were allotted only $3.6 million. As such, the planned medieval storyline had to be scrapped.
Spiegel and Raimi wrote most of the film in their house in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California, where they were living with the aforementioned Coen brothers, as well as actors Frances McDormand, Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter (Hunter was the primary inspiration for the Bobby Jo character). Due both to the distractions of their house guests and the films they were involved with, Crimewave and Josh Becker's Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except, the script took an inordinately long time to finish.
Among the many inspirations for the film include The Three Stooges and other slapstick comedy films; Ash's fights with his disembodied hand come from a film made by Spiegel as a teenager, entitled Attack of the Helping Hand, which was itself inspired by television commercials advertising Hamburger Helper. The "laughing room" scene, where all the objects in the room seemingly come to life and begin to cackle maniacally along with Ash, came about after Spiegel jokingly used a gooseneck lamp to visually demonstrate a Popeye-esque laugh. Scott Spiegel's humorous influence can be seen throughout the film, perhaps most prominently in certain visual jokes; for instance, when Ash traps his rogue hand under a pile of books, on top is A Farewell to Arms.
The film's production was not nearly as chaotic or strange as the production of the original, largely because of Raimi, Tapert and Campbell's additional film making experience. However, there are nevertheless numerous stories about the strange happenings on the set. For instance, the rat seen in the cellar was nicknamed "Señor Cojones" by the crew. "Cojones" is Spanish slang for "testicles".
Even so, there were hardships, mostly involving Ted Raimi's costume. Ted, director Sam's younger brother, had been involved in the first film briefly, acting as a fake Shemp, but in Evil Dead II he gets the larger role of the historian's demon-possessed wife, Henrietta. Raimi was forced to wear a full-body, latex costume, crouch in a small hole in the floor acting as a "cellar", or on one day, both. Raimi became extremely overheated, to the point that his costume was literally filled with liters of sweat; special effects artist Gregory Nicotero describes pouring the fluid into several Dixie cups so as to get it out of the costume. The sweat is also visible on-screen, dripping out of the costume's ear, in the scene where Henrietta spins around over Annie's head.
The crew also sneaked various in-jokes into the film itself, such as the clawed glove of Freddy Krueger, the primary antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of slasher films, which hangs in the cabin's basement and toolshed. This was, at least partially, a reference to a scene in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street where the character Nancy Thompson (portrayed by Heather Langenkamp), watches the original Evil Dead on a television set in her room. In turn, that scene was a reference to the torn The Hills Have Eyes poster seen in the original Evil Dead film, which was itself a reference to a torn Jaws poster in The Hills Have Eyes.
|Kassie DePaiva||Bobby Jo|
|Ted Raimi||Possessed Henrietta|
|John Peaks||Professor Knowby|
|William Preston Robertson||Voice|
|Irvin Shapiro||Executive Producer|
|Alex DeBenedetti||Executive Producer|