Reflections Reviews

Joe Compton Defends EVIL DEAD II

Hello! I am Joe Compton, and I am the 3rd Plotaholic. Before give my “rebuttal” to my friends, the O. G.’s,  The Plotaholics, Mr. Shane Wilson, Mr. Bryan Tann, I am going to say this…

It’s great to have love for things that you have love for. It’s great to be passionate about a movie or give your account of how it affected you more than anything else. IT IS NOT OKAY, to be a toxic, bullying, fuckhead, douchebag and spit venom at someone for their opinion or thoughts, just because they don’t agree with you. It’s just a movie, let’s relax.

Introduction

What the guys said in their awesome review has merit actually. Do I see it the same way? No. I am just going to lay out how I see it and why. You got a soft statement from me in the episode. Well, here’s the dissection. 

Let me first clear up a couple statements I made….when I say this is one of the greatest horror movies of all time, it actually ranks #3 on my list. Angel Heart is #1, and Night of The Living Dead is #2. Additionally, to give you an overall sense of my opinion on horror movies, I think it would be fair to tell you what ranks below Evil Dead II. At #4 is A Nightmare on Elm Street (the original), #5 is The Cabin in The Woods, at #7 is Shaun of The Dead, and #9 is Scream. All in the same vein as Evil Dead II, some to a lesser degree, and some to a better-defined degree. I think this ranking accurately illustrates how I personally value horror films.

Also Evil Dead II is my 49th favorite film of all time. I think if you have seen as many movies as I have, anything that makes the Top 100 qualifies as “one of the best.”

Just for the record the original Evil Dead is somewhere in 100’s–just below Friday the 13th and Halloween.

What The Plotaholics Get Right

Admittedly, I am not a fan of the original Evil Dead film, which is why I rank E. D. II so much higher. This brings me to my first AGREEMENT with The Plotaholics: the existence of the original film hurts Evil Dead II’s credibility.

My 2nd agreement is that this movie does have a hard time figuring out what it wants to be and thus why I rank Cabin In The Woods right behind it. I think Joss Whedon figured out what Sam Raimi didn’t. 

My 3rd agreement (and yes there is quite a few agreements here) is that this is far from Sam Raimi’s best film. I agree with Bryan Tann that Spider-Man 2 is his best film. It is also my #10 favorite film of all time. I have 2 other Sam Raimi films that I think are in my personal Top 100: The Quick and The Dead and of course Army of Darkness.

My next agreement (I am going to stop numbering them at this point) is that this is a far, far better Ash than in the original film. This is Sam Raimi telling Bruce Campbell to be Bruce Campbell and encouraging him to “show them what you got.”

Next, I will humbly contend, maybe not fully agree, that this film has a lull and redundancy to it somewhere around the 37-45 minute mark. However, I will say that I believe there is a reason for this, which we will get to in a bit.

The other thing I will agree with is this: I am really looking at this film from a filmmaker perspective when I give it a high rating. That is part of how I review. I saw this film in theaters and on VHS numerous times. I have seen it about 5 times since in this era of streaming and every time I enjoy it–not because it is technically perfect, but because it makes smile, it makes me chuckle, and it makes me feel like an insider. In what I believe is an apt comparison by Mr. Shane Wilson, the film makes me blurt out lines like only a midnight movie can– like only a Rocky Horror Picture Show can. 

What The Plotaholics Get Wrong

Where I think I disagree is in the discussion of tone. I think that tone-wise, this movie does pitch itself well. It’s the “Fuck you, Hollywood! I am going to set the horror genre on fire because you idiots gave me $3.5 million dollars to essentially redo something I loved doing. So, I am not going to be a cliche convention, been there, done that and I am wearing the t-shirt.” No, what Raimi did was every outlandish and outrageous fucking thing he could. However, that being said he needed a tie-in so that everyone knew this was kind of a sequel but not really a sequel. It really is more like a parallel universe.

This film’s one misstep is not making that tie-in more outlandish in itself. If it had done what the ending does, I think this film would have, for those on the fence, really struck harder. However, this is really Raimi’s first foray into budgets bigger than he had ever had before. He was pissed off and felt pissed on, and he decided to play with the studio’s ignorance. By crafting the beginning of the film as he did, by rehashing certain events, he knew he could get it past an exec because they really only watch the first few minutes. He knew if he could get the first few minutes past the studio, he could do whatever the hell he wanted.

I believe that to this day. that’s why I think there is some mad scientist genius in how he approaches this film. Does it structurally destroy the storytelling? Maybe. But I feel like the condescending tone is right there, right from the beginning. It is kind of an Eddie Haskell approach, if you will. It’s kind to your face but behind your back it mocks you and makes fun of what you think this should be. (For younger ones out there who don’t know Eddie Haskell, look him up.)

Beyond what I have already said about the camera innovations, the scenes that make it iconic, and its sheer will to be campy and gory at the same time, what Evil Dead II doesn’t share with its original is that it subverts the narrative being told. Beyond the dancing furniture and utter nonsensical ideology that exists that can’t make it real, it does this with an over-the-top tactic that is like hitting the viewer in the face until they say stop, and then it hits you a couple times more. That’s why I think it resonates with so many of us, 89% on Rotten Tomatoes as the guys’ said. It’s a “please, sir–can I have another?” type of thing. When this movie came out there were 2 ways to go about horror: either super scary and serious or campy. Campy horror in that era was campy to the point of silly. That silliness was produced by the camp–not because they wanted you to laugh, but because you did. It endeared you to it. Raimi wasn’t the first to attempt the later type of horror but he was the first to comment on it.

This entire film is a comment–a comment on how much he hated doing it, how much he hated the studios for making him do it, how much he wanted Bruce Campbell to be a star, how much he wanted you to not forget Evil Dead I but choose between the 2, and how skilled he was given the right money and equipment.

Closing Thoughts

What makes The Plotaholics review awesome is that they made their choice, and I can’t be mad at that. I love how they stand their ground and make their points. It’s what makes their show so compelling and easy to listen to.

I too have made my choice.

I know very few people who love both films. You usually side with one or the other. Very much like Infinity War and EndGame or The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. You might “like” both, but you really have an affinity for one or the other. There is nothing wrong with that. Preference is nothing to be upset about in that regard.

To me, Evil Dead II was the first film I saw that dared to be different and Raimi was the first director I knew who dared to use those evil instruments for good and not let the Corporate system corrupt him. To make it feel still Indie, and to end this “rebuttal” on an agreeing note…Mr. Shane Wilson is right, I do think it matters when you saw this, but I also think it matters what you saw it as and what you consider a horror movie to be. Again nothing wrong if you want the serious tone and the beats that we define in conventional horror. I like some of those, too, but as you saw from my Top 10 horror films, I much prefer the way Evil Dead II comes across.  

And just for Mr. Smiley’s record book, this film gets a 1 shot rating from me. This is solely because the original does exist and as much as I choose to ignore it as part of this, it is. Also, I too felt the lull and maybe more so now than when I was younger and made everyone who ever knew me, who liked horror, sit down and watch 84 minutes of this. To them I say: “You are welcome.” To The Plotaholics I say: “I have nothing but love for you, and I always will, even when you are wrong. 🙂

1 comment on “Joe Compton Defends EVIL DEAD II

  1. afstewart

    Any film starring Bruce Campbell is the be-all and end-all argument for me, but great points on all sides about the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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