Video essay for 933. Evil Dead 2 (1987, Sam Raimi)

View main entry Transcript appears after the break. Love and special thanks to Cindi for making this a fun one!

If the Evil Dead movies have contributed one thing to our appreciation of film aesthetics, it is to make us consider the boundary between what's funny and what's scary.

one factor influencing this project is raimi's propensity towards film school tendencies to show off as many ain't it cool techniques as he can, a tendency which was already present in the first evil dead, and is even more pronounced here, thanks to a substantially larger budget (though still a fraction of what horror movies cost today).

by the time we get to evil dead 2, this need for constant violent stimulation easily slips into farce, but credit sam raimi for not suppressing what comes naturally to him.

there's a great stretch in the middle of this film where each moment seems to swing the film back and forth between laughter and terror. so we go from texas chainsaw massacre to tex avery in just a matter of moments.

And enough can't be said of Bruce Campbell's malleable performance, who seems to rotate between Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Jack Nicholson in the Shining.

This explosion of blood is so hyperbolic that it buries the horror effect two layers down in our spectatorial response, beneath being a special effects marvel and an absurdist aesthetic object.

But one thing that's great about Evil Dead is that it can be disturbing in the most unexpected moments.

Just as it can weight the scale towards horror so much that it tips over into comedy, the opposite is true.

And so you have this sequence of sheer giddy hilarity, and the longer it plays out, the more disturbing it gets.

Raimi directed Campbell to modulate his laughter into screams of terror by the end of this tracking shot, and that's what he does.

And with the shotgun blasts its over... and we're given just a moment to reflect on the unease underlying our laughter.