Movie Review: Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

Posted: February 3, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
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Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987 Dir. Sam Raimi)

Harry Potter’s decapitated head exists in early form.

The second of the Evil Dead movies is a fun little thing, involving a good deal more comedy than its predecessor. The plot is a little loose, and can be best summed up by stating that Ash is abused for 80 minutes solid after a 4 minute start up. I mean sure, there is all that stuff with the Necronomicon starting up all the trouble and there are more people who get it besides just Ash, but I stand by my one sentence review.

You know, if a book has been there that long, maybe you should leave it there.

HOWEVER! No one ever made a movie review out of one sentence so I’ll have to find other things to say about it. Other wise we’d have a very short review. Some of my reviews are a little on the short side to begin with, so we don’t want that! This review is another re-posting anyway, so it’ll be short no matter what I do.

Ash just discovered his laxative is working.

This movie would have picked up where the first one left off, but for some reason Sam Raimi wasn’t able to get the rights to use the footage from the first movie to make a lead in for the second. Instead the first movie is streamlined into about 10 minutes this removes everyone but Ash and Linda from the cast. Although, as another girl plays Linda in this, it has led to speculation that Ash is so stupid he’d bring another girl named Linda to the same place a year or two later.

Why can’t I just be in a musical?

When the happy couple arrives, they have fun for a few minutes, but that fun is soon shattered because Ash is an idiot. If he’d left the stupid tape recorder alone, if he hadn’t replayed the bit where the professor reads the bits from the book, if he’d just left well enough alone… then we wouldn’t have any movie so let’s not berate him too harshly. After all, it’s not really his fault. He had to do it because Sam told him to.


So we get the condensed version of ED1, with the head getting knocked off with the shovel and his burying Linda and all that before we get what looks like almost the exact scene from ED1 where the camera rushes through the house and grabs Ash, slapping him around before taking him over. Demon Ash doesn’t last long though as the sun helps chase the evil out of him. He then hops in the car and finds he can’t leave because the bridge has been destroyed and is curled up like a claw. More fighting with the car and running from the camera ensue, and we’re still not fifteen minutes into the movie yet.

Stop! Ripping-Off! Doonesbury!

Things don’t really start getting fun though until some of the really screwed up things start to happen. Things like Linda’s corpse, which has already gone through a great deal of desiccation in the 5 minutes she’s been dead, gets up and starts dancing. The head is used as a prop in the dance and then Linda comes after Ash, or at least the head does. This leads to one of the better bits of the movie. Linda’s evil head bites Ash on the hand.

The horror that is, dishpan hands.

Before we can get to what Linda’s bite leads to, we need to deal with the house first. See, the cabin does it’s best to try and drive poor Ash crazy. What with chairs that rock themselves, mirrors that talk back and taxidermied animal heads that start the whole room laughing it’s enough to make a person a little batty. But back to Ash and his hand. The result of Linda biting his hand is that the evil gets into his hand and gives him a bad case of phantom hand syndrome. This leads to Ash having a fight with his right hand. A fight which by all counts, Ash looses. He looses against his right hand and he keeps on loosing until he finally decides to take drastic measures. Those measures include taking the hand off at the wrist with his chain saw.

I think just can’t get that song out of my head.

Now while all this is going on, the other characters in the movie are coming to the cabin. I’ve been neglecting them, because they aren’t important beyond adding to the body count of this movie. The daughter of the professor that owns the cabin, her boy friend and a couple of red necks get together and follow a trail to the cabin where Ash has been busy cutting off his hand after smashing himself in the head with crockery because said hand was possessed.

He’s a happy, happy man.

After a bit of craziness, with the house and the hand and stuff, the other half of the cast finally decide to show up and interact with Ash. They do this by mistaking Ash for the person who killed the girl’s parents, but that line is soon abandoned in favor of another, when the dead actually start to show up again. I now notice the hero girl’s name if Annie, her mother is Henrietta and monsters will get them all. One of the first being the girl’s mother, who is buried in the floor of the basement. It’s here that we begin to see the one thing Ash is good at, which is fighting the dead.

This is where video game losers pick up face squatting.

It’s at this point that the wackiness really and truly begins to ensue. Annie’s boyfriend becomes on of the possessed, the father comes back to tell them how to save themselves from the evil that has taken his soul, someone gets eaten by the woods… things just plain get crazy go nuts.

Evidently opening the latch would take too much time.

Once Bobbie Joe gets eaten by the woods because she rushes out of the house screaming, they get at the pages of the book and the red neck guy goes to try and save her. Not content to get himself killed, he takes our two heroes out into the woods too. Being out in the woods causes Ash to go evil again. Annie runs back into the cabin and accidentally stabs the red neck whose name I can’t be bothered to look up. This leads to a wonderfully grim scene of just beating the horribly unsympathetic character up and causing him huge amounts of pain. He is then dragged into the basement by the possessed Henrietta and he explodes with about forty gallons of blood that vanishes as soon as they cut away into the next shot.

Not a man to talk to before breakfast.

When Ash comes back and stumbles upon the charm he gave Linda and for reasons that aren’t entirely clear that brings him back. Annie then comes after his with the axe, which requires him to convince her that he’s okay about five times before she believes him. They then decide that they need to go down to the basement to get the pages that the red neck tossed down there. So they… well they build a clamp to hold the chain saw to Ash’s hand. Well I would, wouldn’t you? Makes perfect sense. Frankly I stopped asking questions by this point.

Blood, blood, blood, blood, blood…

Ash goes down to the basement, grabs the pages, comes back up, I guess everything is all right now right? Nope! Henrietta comes back for another round of fighting while Annie translates the pages. Then Ash comes up the stairs and fights the monster some, slashing it to pieces with chain saw until he decapitates it and uses a shot gun to blast the head.

One of them knew the other was crazy, but which one was which?

They then finish translating the pages and open a gateway to the past that will suck the evil away. Ash has to fight the house, and a big rotten apple headed thing. The girl is killed by the hand, Ash stabs the thing in the eye with his chain saw, and then things go wrong again. The door sucks Ash into it and he’s trapped in the past when the movie ends. This of course will lead us nicely into Army of Darkness.


My DVD, which is one of probably 247 versions of the Evil Dead Series on video is from Anchor bay and has a commentary, a featurette, and some pictures and trailers. Not a lot, but I didn’t want to spring for the foam book version for some reason.

Yeah, my holiday turned out like that too.

Official Score:
46 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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