Month of Horror Movies: “Evil Dead II”

Jack Ken

For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies, or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. First up this week: the best horror sequel/remake ever, “Evil Dead II.”

To say that I like “Evil Dead II” is an understatement, equivalent to saying that “Breaking Bad” was a decent TV drama. It might be one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen, which is kind of an odd thing to say about a horror film with the words “evil” and “dead” in the title, but it’s true nonetheless. For the purists seeking an unadulterated girlfriend-grabbing-your-hand-too-tight horror flick, you might be a little disappointed at first. But soon, you’ll realize that you’re in the presence of a masterpiece that’s just as gut-bustingly funny as it is gut-spillingly scary.

The original “Evil Dead” movie followed Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) as he headed to a cabin in the woods with friends, who were all possessed and dismembered in quick succession. In this sequel/remake, Williams heads out to the same cabin with a girlfriend. After he accidentally plays a tape of an archaeology professor reciting ominous incantations, evil spirits are summoned and chaos ensues. Williams decides to fight evil with a shotgun and a chainsaw. 

“Evil Dead II” follows a classic trope, the romantic getaway turned gore fest, but gets away with it, thumbing its nose at every B-list, Reagan-era slasher flick cliche. There are copious amounts of blood, painfully fake-looking monsters, endearingly ineffective door barricades and eardrum-destroying screams. It’s all there, but it’s the absurd humor that makes it the best “horror” movie I’ve seen in my life.

A few classic scenes showcase why “Evil Dead II” really does it for me. In the first, Williams’ hand is possessed and begins giggling as it assaults him. But before that five-fingered rascal can grab a meat cleaver and cut his throat, Williams stabs the hand to the floor and cuts it off with a chainsaw. Just when you think it can’t get any better, Williams attaches the chainsaw to his mangled stump and wreaks further havoc. 

In another scene, Williams battles a demon that calls himself Henrietta and talks like William F. Buckley. When Williams stomps on the fruit salad-loving demon’s head, the demon’s eyeball shoots right out of its socket into the lipsticked mouth of a stone-cold babe. Of course she falls over and it’s funny, but it’s the demon that really makes the scene. So relatable. What guy doesn’t like fruit salad or giving himself a female moniker?

Finally, there’s a scene where Williams hallucinates that all the household appliances and furniture are laughing at him. It starts with a moose head, and before long, it’s Inanimate Object Gigglefest 1987. All the while, Williams dances to ‘50s doo-wop music, laughing a Charlie Manson-esque chortle and firing off his shotgun intermittently. It’s like “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” “A Beautiful Mind,” and “The Ring” got weird together at a swinger’s party. 

“Evil Dead II” is an unapologetically gross, gory and hilarious horror-comedy, and if the promise of chainsaw hands, demon eyeballs and laughing moose heads doesn’t convince you to see this movie, you’re just wired wrong.