Evil Dead II

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Evil Dead II
Evil Dead II poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sam Raimi
Produced by
Written by
Music by Joseph LoDuca
Cinematography Peter Deming
Edited by Kaye Davis
Distributed by
Release dates
  • March 13, 1987 (1987-03-13)
Running time
84 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.6 million[3]
Box office $5.9 million[4]

Evil Dead II (referred to in publicity materials as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn[5]) is a 1987 American horror comedy film directed by Sam Raimi and a parody sequel[6][7][8] to the 1981 film The Evil Dead. The film was written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel (they wrote the screenplay during the production of another collaboration Crimewave), produced by Robert Tapert, and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams.

Filming took place in Michigan and North Carolina in 1986 and the film was released in the United States on March 13, 1987. It was a minor box office success, achieving just under $6 million. It garnered positive reviews in which critics praised Raimi's direction and Campbell's role as the protagonist.

Like the original, Evil Dead II has accumulated a cult following. The film was followed by a third installment in the Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness (1992).


The film begins with a new beginning similar to the first film. Ash Williams and his girlfriend, Linda, take a romantic vacation to a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods. While there, Ash plays a tape recorder from the cabin's previous inhabitant Professor Knowby. The tape features Knowby reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (or Book of the Dead), which he has discovered during an archaeological dig. However, the recorded incantation unleashes an evil force which kills and later possesses Linda, forcing Ash to decapitate his girlfriend with a shovel when she attacks him, he then buries her.

The film then picks up where the first film ended, where Ash is attacked by an evil force and is thrown across the forest, becoming possessed by the demon. However, when the sun appears, the spirit is forced out of him returning Ash to normal. In an attempt to flee the property, Ash speeds away in his car only to discover the bridge leading out of the woods is destroyed. As night falls, the evil force chases Ash back to the cabin. Linda then returns from the dead and attacks Ash, biting his hand with her severed head. Ash brings Linda's head to the shed, where her headless body attacks him with a chainsaw. Ash gains the upper hand and slashes the body before turning the chainsaw on Linda's head, finally killing her. Later, Ash discovers Linda's bite has caused his own hand to become murderously possessed, and he is forced to dismember it. When he finds that it still lives on after being severed, he seemingly kills it with a shotgun he finds in the cabin.

Meanwhile, Knowby's daughter, Annie, returns from a dig with more pages of the Necronomicon in tow. Having been unable to contact her father at his isolated cabin, Annie, with her research partner Ed Getley in tow, drives there, only to find the destroyed bridge blocking her route. The pair enlist the help of two road workers, Jake and his girlfriend Bobby Joe, to guide them along an alternate trail to the cabin. In the cabin, demonic attacks begin to erode Ash's psyche after he is attacked by his own reflection in a mirror an inanimate objects around the house begin laughing at him. As Annie and her party arrive at the cabin, Ash, mistaking them for an evil presence, fires at them with a shotgun, wounding Bobby Joe. Believing that Ash murdered Knowby, he is beaten unconscious by Jake and thrown into cabin's cellar. Annie then listens to her father's recording in which he describes how his wife, Henrietta, was possessed by a demon and he, unable to bring himself to dismember her, buried her in the cellar.

Suddenly, Henrietta rises from the cellar floor and attacks Ash. The group releases Ash before locking the cellar door once again in order to trap Henrietta. Ed is soon possessed and subsequently dismembered by an axe-wielding Ash. The group is then visited by the spirit of Annie's father, who tells her that, by using the pages of the Necronomicon that she brought with her, she can save the group. Bobby Joe is attacked by Ash's still-living hand and attempts to flee, but is attacked by the demon trees in the woods and dragged to her death. Annie translates two of the pages, learning that, by reciting incantations that they hold, she can first force the evil presence to manifest itself in the flesh, before opening a rift in time and space to send it away. Before she can begin translating and reciting the incantations, Jake turns on them and throws the pages into the cellar, holding them at gunpoint to force them to go looking for Bobby Joe. Outside the relative safety of the cabin, Ash is once again possessed and turns on his remaining companions, incapacitating Jake. Annie retreats to the cabin and, mistaking him for the demon, accidentally stabs Jake. She drags him to safety, only to accidentally leave him near the cellar door, where he is dragged into the cellar by Henrietta and killed. The possessed Ash tries to kill Annie, but stops when he sees Linda's necklace, reminding him of her. He is freed from the possession, and manages to convince Annie that he is normal again.

Ash, with Annie's help, modifies the chainsaw and attaches it to where his right hand had been. Arming himself with both the chainsaw and his shotgun, Ash journeys into the cellar to find the missing pages of the Necronomicon. He finds them (and Jake's skeleton), before proceeding to leave. However, as he is going up the steps to safety, Henrietta surprises him and temporarily disables him, before going after Annie. Ash then recovers as Henrietta transform into a demonic form with a much longer neck. Annie recites a song that Henrietta used to sing to her as a child. Distracted, the deadite is dismembered by Ash, before he blasts the head apart with the shotgun.

Annie chants the first incantation. The incantation causes the evil to manifest and attack the cabin, but, before she can recite the second, Ash's possessed hand kills her with a dagger. As Ash fends off the evil by impaling it in the eye with the chainsaw, Annie uses her dying breaths to recite the second incantation, opening up a whirling temporal portal which draws in not only the evil force, but nearby trees, the Oldsmobile, and Ash himself. Ash and his Oldsmobile fall through the portal and out of the sky and he is immediately confronted by a group of knights who initially mistake him for a being called a "deadite", but they are quickly distracted when a real one appears. Ash blasts the harpy-like deadite with his shotgun. The knights begin cheering as Ash realizes he has been brought to the past, cries out in horror.


  • Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, a common guy who travels to the cabin in the woods to spend the weekend with his girlfriend Linda. As the story follows, he must defeat the evil powers around him that keep growing. After enough attacks, he decides to take the evil head-on equipped with a shotgun and a chainsaw and sets out to face the enemy.
  • Sarah Berry as Annie Knowby, Professor Knowby's daughter who travels to the cabin looking forward to share her discoveries of the Book of the Dead with her father. She thinks Ash murdered her parents at first, but when the evil spirits unleash against them, she realizes the truth and finds out her only way to survive is to help Ash defeat the spirits.
  • Dan Hicks as Jake, a white-trash guy who freaks out before the evil spirits. When things turn bad, he thinks they have to escape before they all get killed. He is accidentally stabbed in the chest by Annie when trying to escape a possessed Ash. Badly wounded but still alive, Annie tries dragging him to safety in the living room near the trapdoor to the fruit cellar, where he is attacked and eaten alive by Henrietta.
  • Kassie DePaiva as Bobby Joe, Jake's foul-mouthed, self-centered girlfriend. She tries to escape the cabin, only to be killed by the woods themselves (in a similar fashion to how Cheryl was raped in the first film).
  • Ted Raimi as Possessed Henrietta, Annie's possessed mother who uses her memories to lure her in order to kill her and everybody else, but is killed when Ash stabs her through the chest with his chainsaw.
  • Denise Bixler as Linda, Ash's girlfriend. She gets possessed, then tries to kill Ash. In a desperate effort, he beheads her with a shovel before burying her. Later on, her corpse raises from the grave and resumes her intentions to kill Ash with both her severed head and her body acting separately. He finally gets rid of her by chopping her up with a chainsaw.
  • Richard Domeier as Professor Ed Getley, Professor Knowby's associate and Annie's boyfriend. After being attacked by the possessed Henrietta, he gets possessed by another spirit. He meets his doom when Ash dismembers him with an ax.
  • John Peaks as Professor Knowby, the archaeologist who found the Book of the Dead. When he took it to his cabin to translate it, he accidentally unleashed its evil spirits. His fate remains unknown, since he only appears as a floating head from another plane of existence.
  • Lou Hancock as Henrietta Knowby, Professor Knowby's wife. She gets possessed when her husband accidentally unleashes the evil spirits of the Book of the Dead. According to the Professor's recordings he was forced to kill Henrietta when she became demonically possessed and attacked him. He then buried her body in the fruit cellar where she reanimates and remains a recurring villain (portrayed by Ted Raimi) through the second half of the film.


The concept of a sequel to The Evil Dead was discussed during location shooting on the first film. 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 The 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 reaction, 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 film 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.[9]:135

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 crew member 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.[9]:104

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.[9]:106


Though they had only recently received the funding necessary to produce the film, the script had been written for some time, having been composed largely during the production of Crimewave. Raimi contacted his old friend Scott Spiegel, who had collaborated with Campbell and others on the Super 8 mm films they had produced during their childhood in Michigan. Most of these films had been comedies, and Spiegel felt that Evil Dead II should be less straight horror than the first. Initially, the opening sequence included all five of the original film's characters, but, in an effort to save time and money, all but Ash and Linda were cut from the final draft. The film went through several other iterations, including a group of escaped convicts holding Ash captive in the cabin while searching for buried treasure.[9]:109–110

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.[9]:109

Among the film's many inspirations 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. 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.[9]:111


With the script completed, and a production company secured, filming could begin. The production commenced in Wadesboro, North Carolina, not far from De Laurentiis' offices in Wilmington. De Laurentiis had wanted them to film in his elaborate Wilmington studio, but the production team felt uneasy being so close to the producer, so they moved to Wadesboro, approximately three hours away. Steven Spielberg had previously filmed The Color Purple in Wadesboro, and the large white farmhouse used as an exterior location in that film became the production office for Evil Dead II. Most of the film was shot in the woods near that farmhouse, or J.R. Faison Junior High School, which is where the interior cabin set was located.[9]:113

The film's production was not nearly as chaotic or strange as the original film's production, 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 briefly involved in the first film, acting as a fake Shemp, but in Evil Dead II he gets the larger role of the historian's demonically-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.[9]:125

The crew also snuck 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 tool shed. 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.

At the film's wrap party, the crew held a talent contest, where Raimi and Campbell sang The Byrds' "Eight Miles High", with Nicotero on guitar.[10]


Box office[edit]

Evil Dead II opened on March 13, 1987 to a weekend gross of $807,260. At this time, it was only in 310 theatres, resulting in its smaller gross. However, after spending a little over a month in theatres, the film ultimately grossed $5,923,044 domestically.[11]

Critical response[edit]

Rotten Tomatoes reports that 98% of 52 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 8/10. The site's consensus reads: "Evil Dead 2‍ '​s increased special effects and slapstick-gore makes it as good – if not better – than the original."[12] On the similar website Metacritic, it holds a score of 69/100 based on twelve reviews.[13] Empire magazine praised the film, saying "the gaudily gory, virtuoso, hyper-kinetic horror sequel uses every trick in the cinematic book" and confirms that "Bruce Campbell and Raimi are gods".[14] Caryn James of The New York Times called it "genuine, if bizarre, proof of Sam Raimi's talent and developing skill."[15] Leonard Maltin originally rated the film with two stars,[16] but later increased the rating to three stars.[17]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a three star rating (out of four) describing it as "a fairly sophisticated satire, that makes you want to get up and shuffle." He praised the film's sense of surrealism, comedic timing, and "grubby, low-budget intensity." Ebert states that "if you know it's all special effects, and if you've seen a lot of other movies and have a sense of humor, you might have a great time at Evil Dead 2."[18] Richard Harrington of the Washington Post wrapped up his review stating that "the acting is straight out of '50s B movies. The exposition is clumsy, the sound track corny, the denouement silly. Then again, who said bad taste was easy?"[19] Conversely, Pat Graham of Chicago Reader disliked the mix of horror and comedy, writing in his review that "The pop-up humor and smirkiness suggest Raimi's aspiring to the fashionable company of the brothers Coen, though on the basis of this strained effort I'd say he's overshot the mark."[20]

Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #19 on their list of "The Top 50 Cult Films".[21]

Sight and Sound ranked it #34 on their 50 Funniest Films of All Time list. In 2008, Empire magazine included Evil Dead II on their list of The 500 Greatest Movies of All Time, ranked #49.[22]

J.C. Maçek III of PopMatters wrote, "Equal parts remake and sequel, the second film brought back Bruce Campbell as Ash and was every bit as gory and horrific as the first film with more tree rape and dismemberment and blood splatters than ever. On the other hand, Evil Dead II is also an absolutely hilarious and uproarious intentional comedy."[23]


Award Subject Nominee Result
Saturn Awards Best Horror Film Sam Raimi Nominated
Best Special Effects Vern Hyde, Doug Beswick and Tom Sullivan Nominated
Best Make-up Mark Shostrom Nominated
Catalonian International Film Festival Best Film Sam Raimi Nominated
Fantasporto Awards Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)". Baseline. Retrieved 2015-07-06 – via The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "EVIL DEAD II' (18) (!)". British Board of Film Classification. 1987-05-22. Retrieved 2013-03-28. 
  3. ^ Mark Hughes (October 30, 2013). "The Top Ten Best Low-Budget Horror Movies Of All Time". Forbes. Retrieved December 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Evil Dead II (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Warren, Bill (2000). The Evil Dead Companion. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 206. 
  6. ^ "Evil Dead II - DVD Synopsis". Lionsgate. Retrieved October 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Evil Dead II Credits". Book of the Dead. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  8. ^ Warren, Bill (2000). The Evil Dead Companion. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 108. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Warren, Bill (2001). The Evil Dead Companion. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 9780312275013. 
  10. ^ Mentioned in Evil Dead II audio commentary
  11. ^ "Evil Dead 2 (1987)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 
  12. ^ "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn Film Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Evil Dead II". Empire. Retrieved February 11, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Evil Dead 2 Movie Review". The New York Times. March 13, 1987. Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  16. ^ Maltin, 2001, p. 426.
  17. ^ Maltin, 2009, 424.
  18. ^ Roger Ebert (April 10, 1987). "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn". Chicago Sun-Times (rogerebert.com). Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  19. ^ Richard Harrington (April 30, 1987). "Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn". Washington Post (washingtonpost.com). Retrieved February 6, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Evil Dead II". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  21. ^ "The Top 50 Cult Films". Entertainment Weekly. May 23, 2003. 
  22. ^ "The 500 greatest movies of all time". Empire. Retrieved September 14, 2009. 
  23. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (2013-04-26). "Books of the Dead: The Followers and Clones of 'The Evil Dead'". PopMatters. 


External links[edit]