Monday, June 1, 2009

Evil Dead II

“Evil Dead II” begins with an explanation of what The Book of the Dead is, and does us the favor of giving it a new name –Necronomicon Ex Mortis. Among various the factoids presented, we learn that the book was written “long ago, when the seas ran red with blood.”

I am ninety-nine percent sure I missed that particular day of history in high school.

“It was around this time in history that the seas ran red with blood…”

Yeah. That’s not jogging any memory cells.

Next, the movie treats us all to a recap of the events that happened in the first movie. Only they kind of forget that there were other characters besides Ash and his girlfriend, Linda.

Ash and Linda drive down the road. They cross a really large bridge. And then it’s nighttime, and Ash is playing the piano while Linda does some ballet-esque dancing. I must have missed that bit in part I.

Ash finally realizes that there’s a woman in the cabin with him, and goes over to her. She asks him what they’ll do if the people who own the cabin show up.

Which also doesn’t jibe with movie numero uno. Didn’t they rent the cabin? And if they didn’t rent the cabin, one must wonder: How did they get into the cabin in the first place? Did Ash just keep driving up into the mountains, hunting for an unlocked cabin to take his lady-friend to for the weekend?

One would think that after a while, the money spent on gas looking for a place to squat would outstrip the cost of a cabin for the weekend.

Ash wanders into another room to find booze, in hopes that he’ll get his womanly companion plowed and she’ll forget that he’s the cheapest man on the planet, when he stumbles across a tape recorder.

Linda suggests that Ash play it and see what’s on it. Linda has never seen a horror movie.

Ash plays the recording, and a flashback is presented that allows us to see a kindly professor and his wife and daughter and another dude named Ed finding The Book of the Dead in an old castle. As a bonus, the book is called by a totally different name: Morturom Demonto.

Never mind that we have continuity problems between the first two films – now we’ve got continuality issues between minute one and minute four of the same film.

Eventually, the tape recorder gets around to reciting the passages of raw evil, and an evil point-of-view shot makes a run at the cabin. It absconds with Linda, who screams.

A question: If the evil was activated by the kindly professor before they got there, why does the tape recorder have to re-active it? Shouldn’t it already be activated?

Ash lopes into the next room to investigate, and finds a window shattered and Linda missing. So he goes outside to investigate. He’s our hero, folks. How he makes it through the opening credits alive, much less through three whole movies, is a bit of a mystery.

Ash wanders until Linda, in full-on zombie mode, comes out of the woods and attacks him. Lucky for Ash, there’s a shovel lying nearby, and with a well-timed swing he chops off her head.

Then he buries her and sticks a cross over her grave.

Which kind of made sense in the first movie, but doesn’t here. Here we’ve just got a dead girl… and a car. Probably putting the body in the car, driving to the local police station, and saying, “I know you won’t believe me, but we really need to go back to this cabin…” would be the optimal plan in this instance.

But no matter. The movie jumps to the next morning, and the Evil Point-of-View comes pounding down the hill, in the back door and out the front, where it catches Ash in the same pose Ash was in at the end of part I.

The evil picks Ash up and drags him through the woods until Ash runs into a tree, and falls face down in a puddle. When Ash comes out of the puddle, he has been zombified, complete with bad skin and blank eyes.

This last for a few seconds, and then the sun crests the horizon and Ash returns to his normal self. And passes out. In a puddle.

Some time later, Ash wakes up, and takes a long look around the forest. This includes a shot of the cabin. Based on the previous very long shot of Ash hurtling through the woods, one would think he’d be about a half-mile from the cabin. One would be wrong. He appears to be maybe thirty yards away.

Ash determines that the sun vanquished the evil temporarily, and that he should probably leave. And he does! Go, Ash, go!

Only, of course, the bridge is out. Ash does some Nooo-style lamenting, and then determines he needs to get a grip on himself.

This lasts right up until he notices that the sun is setting very rapidly. Honestly, though, if the sun is falling that fast, demons are probably not your concern. You are likely about to be vaporized in the nuclear blast currently occurring in the nearby town.

The Evil makes another point-of-view run at Ash, and Ash hops in his car and races away. Eventually, he crashes, and is forced to run to the cabin on foot. Which clearly doesn’t offer much in the way of protection, seeing as how Linda was snatched from the cabin. And also, we’ve seen the Evil go racing through the cabin.

Which the Evil does again, chasing Ash through room after room, until Ash finds a place to hide. Frustrated, the Evil goes a long, long, long way back into the woods. I guess it had to empty its evil bladder and didn’t want Ash peeking.

Elsewhere, the professor’s daughter, whose name is Annie, debarks from her plane, carrying a glass case with some more pages from The Book of the Dead. Ed runs in from off-screen, they share a short hello kiss, and then Ed notes that the pages haven’t aged a day in 3000 years.

How you determine that is beyond me, but I don’t have a degree in evil-ology.

At any rate, Annie states that her father may have found the doorway to another world. The Book of the Dead and a doorway to another world? Sounds like a recipe for a good time.

Back at the cabin, Ash has an emotional moment as the piano plays of its own accord. He then hears a rumbling at the window, and looks outside just in time to see his dead girlfriend pull herself out of the ground, locate her head, and to a little ballet dancing.

She vanishes into the woods.

Then she appears in front of the window, and provides Ash with some mental, emotional, and physical anguish.

Ash wakes up. It was all a dream. But the next moment, when Linda’s head falls into his lap, is not a dream.

Nor is it a dream when she bites his hand, attaching herself to him so thoroughly that he literally cannot beat her head off of his hand by thrashing it with various objects.

Finally, he runs to the work shed, where through the judicious use of a clamp Ash manages to get Linda to release he hand. He goes looking for a chainsaw, only to see that it’s missing.

In comes Linda’s body, revving chainsaw in tow.

Ash fights Linda’s body, eventually getting the chainsaw away from her. Linda’s head does a brief, “But I love you, Ash!” routine, which would probably be more effective if she wasn’t just a head. Either way, Ash takes the chainsaw to his girlfriend’s noggin.

Afterwards, he heads back to the cabin, where he trades his chainsaw for a shotgun. A good plan, to be sure.

Unfortunately, that’s when the furniture starts moving of its own accord. Ash starts to freak out a bit. Then he gets a grip on himself.

Then his hand becomes possessed and he tries to prevent himself from getting a literal grip on himself.

Elsewhere, Annie discovers that the bridge is out. So she hires an extra from “Deliverance” and his heavily made-up girlfriend to take them to the cabin using a trail.

In the cabin, Ash fights his hand, and mostly loses. So he cuts his hand off with a chainsaw. That’ll teach it.

Out of the cabin, Annie and company march up the trail to the cabin.

In the cabin again, Ash sticks his still-living hand under the coffee can, when it is pretty clear that some sort of cremation is probably the best route to take. Naturally, his hand escapes, and more Ash vs. Ash-hand action occurs.

Ash fires the shotgun, and blasts a hole in the wall where he thinks his hand is, and blood floods out of the wall. Coating Ash. Then the blood turns black, and floods back into the wall. Somewhat un-coating Ash.

Ash starts to look a little crazy, right up until everything the room – including a deer head, a lamp, and various books – starts laughing. Then Ash goes full-on crazy, laughing maniacally.

He hears a thump outside, everything quiets down, and Ash fires at the door. Ash goes to investigate who or what he just shot, and he gets jumped by the man who makes you hear banjos just by looking at him.

Ash is knocked unconscious, and everyone piles into the cabin, Annie wondering aloud where her parents went while staring at the bloody chainsaw on the floor.

You know, it isn’t often that you meet a crazy man with a chainsaw, and go on discover that he’s not the worst-case scenario.

The group throws Ash in the cellar and locks him down there.

Later, Ed says that he checked “all the rooms,” of which there are about four, and didn’t find Annie’s parents. Annie fires up the tape recorder, and we learn that her mom became a host for a Candarian demon. And that dad buried her in the basement.

Guess who chooses that moment to pop up?

Ash screams and runs, the hillbilly lets him out of the cellar, and this results in Ed getting thrown into a wall, the hillbilly’s girlfriend eating a demon eyeball, and the hillbilly getting slapped around a bit.

Once Evil Mom is safely locked up again, the Evil Point-of-View does another race towards the cabin, only the movie cuts it off. Or maybe it stopped running. Or maybe it had to go to the potty again and ran back into the woods.

It is an ancient evil after all. One must assume it has some bladder-and-bowel control issues.

In the cabin, Ash yammers for a while about the fact that there’s evil around. Annie’s mom does the no-I’m-fine routine, and then Ed gets all possessive. Sorry, possessed. You see what I’m saying.

The demons make some threats, and then Ed eats the hillbilly maiden’s hair. Which is icky, yes, but probably not evil.

The hillbilly attempts to attack Ed, and gets knocked out. Ash grabs an axe, and takes it to zombie Ed. Which, come to think of it, is tough to do with one hand.

A bunch of random noises occur, which is supposed to represent a being of some sort trying to force its way into our world. Though I’m not sure what the horse hoof sound is supposed to mean in that context. Cowboy spirits?

Ash and crew go into the next room to investigate, and Annie’s father’s spirit pays them a visit and tells them to use the pages she found to banish the evil. So it’s a good thing she brought those along.

Hillbilly’s woman tells the hillbilly to stop holding her hand so tight and…? Guess. Come on. Right. It’s Ash’s evil hand. Holding her hand. She screams, she panics, she runs from the cabin, and the woods grabs her and hauls her away.

Ash and Annie smash the glass on the case holding the pages from The Book of the Dead, which dumb, because the hinges on the case are visible. Really, all they did was create a bunch of jagged glass in a cabin already filled with pointy things.

Annie flips through the pages and finds a picture of a man in a blue shirt that looks not unlike the shirt our hero is wearing. She says he supposedly banished the evil. Only… if he banished the evil, why is it written about in the book from whence the evil came?

Annie also locates two passages, one that will make the evil manifest itself in physical form, and a second that will open a rift to suck the physical manifestation of evil through.

Annie and Ash hear a gun cock, and they turn around and learn that the hillbilly is displeased at losing his cousin/sweetheart. They try to convince him that she’s dead, but he steals the pages from them, tosses them in the cellar, and then tells Ash and Annie that they’re going out in the woods to hunt for his woman.

This goes poorly, until Ash reverts to his zombie self and it goes more poorly.

Annie runs back to the house, and finds the knife from the first movie that may or may not have appeared in part II before this point.

She knows that zombie Ash is outside, so she waits by a door for him to attempt to get in, and then she stabs him. Only she stabs the hillbilly instead. Then she attempts to close the door so that zombie Ash can’t get in, but the hillbilly is in the way.

Eventually, Annie pulls the knife out of the hillbilly and the hillbilly out of the doorway, and then she drags him into the living room to get the axe. Unfortunately for the hillbilly, Annie drags him near the trapdoor, and when Annie goes to look out the window, the demon in the cellar gets him.

Lots of blood ensues.

Annie eventually figures that the hillbilly will not be saved by a transfusion, and gives up. She stands up, and is immediately confronted by zombie Ash, who picks her up and throws her against a wall.

It looks like evil is finally going to triumph, when zombie Ash looks down at the ground and sees the necklace he gave Linda. This restores his humanity. So things are finally going Ash’s way. Until Annie tries to cut him up with an axe.

After some discussion and/or shouting, Annie and Ash decide to put aside their differences and dead significant others and go down in the cellar to get the lost pages.

Ash figures he’s going to need some weaponry, so he attaches the chainsaw to his stump. And he makes a holder for his shotgun, so it can sit on his back.

Ash carves open the door in the floor, and heads down to the cellar. He wanders around for a bit, picking up pages as he goes, and has a close encounter with the skeleton of the hillbilly. Which has no skin or organs, but it still dressed in overalls.

That’s some careful eating right there.

Ash runs back to the stairs, and throws the pages up to Annie, who starts translating.

Ash attempts to run up the stairs, only he’s grabbed by Evil Mom, and he falls and is knocked unconscious.

Evil Mom heads upstairs and attacks Annie, only here comes Ash, who is spoiling for a little hand-to-hand combat.

Evil Mom and Ash throw some punches, and then Evil Mom’s neck extends for some reason which is I’m sure totally evil. The fighting continues until Annie starts singing “Hush, Little Baby,” which is the song her mom used to sing to her.

This distracts Evil Mom long enough to allow Ash to chop of her hands and head with his chainsaw. And follow this up with a shotgun blast to Evil Mom’s now disconnected head.

Evil not-even-close to vanquished, Ash takes a moment to comfort Annie, perhaps hoping that he might still get some action this weekend, since he went through all the trouble of finding an abandoned cabin.

The house starts shaking, but not for the reason Ash is hoping it would – the trees around the cabin have uprooted themselves and have started pounding on the walls and roof.

Annie tells Ash that she hasn’t completed reading the second passage, the one that will send the evil back through a rift in time and space. Ash tells Annie to stop spouting exposition at him and get to reading the passages.

Annie does. In the middle of the reading, she gets stabbed by Ash’s rouge hand. But with her dying breath, she finishes the reading and the evil is sucked into another world. Along with Ash’s car, half the forest, and Ash.

On the other side of the portal, Ash falls onto the ground. No, sorry, he falls onto what looks like a gym mat that’s sitting on the ground. But let’s all assume that it’s not supposed to be a gym mat, shall we?

Ash lies there, stunned, while several knights in dusty armor surround him and prepare to stab him to death. Only a demon comes screaming through the sky, causing everyone to panic and run.

Ash stands up and shoots the creature, blowing its head to tiny bits.

The knights hail Ash as their savior, and keep on yelling, “Hail” while Ash shouts, “Nooo!” for possibly the eighth or ninth time in the last hour and a half.

The camera pulls way back to show us a shot that looks very much like the picture from The Book of the Dead we saw earlier. This is called dramatic irony. Or not. Ask an English teacher.

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