Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Danny Hicks, Kassie Wessly, Ted Raimi
Directed by Sam Raimi
Distributed by LionsGate Home Entertainment
It’s hard to believe that in the heyday of the blockbusters of 1987, someone would consider making a sequel to an independent horror film whose biggest claim to fame was an endorsement from Stephen King with a theatrical release in mind but thankfully (for all of us)- someone did.
With nothing to lose, writer-director Sam Raimi and his merry band of misfits took some risks and changed things up on EVIL DEAD II by incorporating even more of their beloved slapstick influences, almost ensuring the film’s cult status out of the gate when it hit theaters in March 1987. It’s hard to imagine that anyone working on set alongside Raimi would have guessed that 25 years later EVIL DEAD II would be one of the most popular home releases movies of all time, garnering four DVDs editions as well as two HD releases, with the latest being the recently released EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray from the good folks at LionsGate which somehow manages to be a ‘must-have’ for any fan out there, regardless of how many other copies you may already own. Kudos, LionsGate!
Even with 25 years having passed it by, EVIL DEAD II hasn’t lost a single aspect of its charm and like a most things, only gets better with age. With its cult classic status securely solidified long ago, there’s really not much to dissect when it comes to EVIL DEAD II- for those who have seen it, they know why it’s one of the most revered genre films of all time. And for the uninitiated, you have sorely missed out over the years and perhaps the EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray is the perfect way to reintroduce yourself to Raimi’s madhouse of a flick.
In terms of picture quality, the 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer of EVIL DEAD II looks nothing short of amazing and is infinitely superior to the DVD I purchased a few years back now. Sure, EVIL DEAD II is never going to look blockbuster-pristine like something Cameron might cough up, but the skin tones are spot on, the blacks are impressively deep and all of the detail is strong throughout, with the gore gags popping in each scene. The DTS-HD soundtrack on EVIL DEAD II is equally impressive on this release with Raimi thankfully realizing that sound design is just as important as image quality. On this release, the dialogue is clean and clear throughout, everything feels balanced and the use of silence is impressive.
The extras included on the EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray include all the old stuff seen before on previous incarnations including the amazing audio commentary track with Raimi, Campbell, special effects maestro Greg Nicotero and writer Scott Spiegel which still remain by far one of the best genre commentaries ever recorded. They share stories, tell jokes and by the end the viewer knows pretty much everything they could want to about the making of EVIL DEAD II. From the previous releases we also get the behind-the-scenes “The Gore, the Merrier” which gives a solid overview of the production using behind-the-scenes footage as well as “Behind the Screams” which takes a look at EVIL DEAD II’s visual effects.
The new bonus material kicks off with a 91-minute documentary broken into seven parts entitled “Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead II” which uses behind the scenes footage and new interviews to cover the film’s production and reception. Sadly Raimi doesn’t appear but despite his absence, it should definitely make the fans happy to hear that the usual suspects are interviewed and look back on EVIL DEAD II fondly. Also new to the 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray are a tour of EVIL DEAD II’s filming location in the twenty-first century that’s kind of fun as well as a highly entertaining 30-minute reel of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Nicotero which is completely worth the time. And finally, there’s a still gallery with all kinds of promo material for the film including ads and lobby cards which was pretty fun to check out.
So is the EVIL DEAD II 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray worth buying even if you may own the previous Blu-Ray or DVDs? Absolutely- EVIL DEAD II has never looked or sounded better and the bonus materials don’t get any better than this and despite the many previous incarnations of the film, I can’t imagine a better version of EVIL DEAD II ever being available than what LionsGate has given fans with the 25th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition.
Movie- 4.5 out of 5
Special Features- 4 out of 5