"There's something out there..."  This line from Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn may be one of horror cinema's biggest understatements.  This movie -- possibly the greatest B-movie of all time -- throws everything it can imagine into the setting of the abandoned cabin deep in the woods.

At the start of the movie, Ashley "Ash" Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) crash a seemingly abandoned cabin deep in the woods for a romantic weekend.  Unfortunately, Ash finds a tape recorder that has a professor reading from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (the Book of the Dead).  The words summon an unseen creature, Linda gets possessed, and Ash's nightmare (sometimes literal) begins.
On the outskirts of the forest, Annie (Sarah Berry) has just arrived with her -- research partner?  boyfriend?  fiancee? -- Ed (Richard Dormeier) and several pages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis to translate.  With the help of redneck couple Jake (Dan Hicks) and Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley DePaiva), they all make their way to the cabin.

Writer-director Sam Raimi throws everything he has into Evil Dead 2,   There are Deadites, Candarian demons, assorted characters getting possessed, an animated hand, something in the fruit cellar, one of the most fun arming sequences around, and so, so much blood and fluids spewing all over the place.  In the middle of this is also plenty of comedy: It's not hard to see the influence of the Three Stooges throughout the movie, and there are numerous quotable lines spread through the movie.  There's also the transformation of Ash from egotistical Romeo to somewhat insane action hero.
There are some flaws in the movie -- shooting inconsistencies, the stop-motion animation -- but they wind up adding to the feel that this could be a fun-but-flawed movie that could have been enjoyed at a drive-in movie theater.  Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn is a tremendously fun roller coaster ride of a horror movie.  (Extras on this DVD include a making-of feature ("The Gore the Merrier"), commentaries by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, movie stills, and a few assorted other items.

Overall grade: A-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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