Tuesday, December 11, 2018

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987) (4K UltraHD Review)

EVIL DEAD 2 (1987)
4K UltraHD/Blu-ray   

Label: Lionsgate

Region Code: A
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 84 Minutes
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD, Spanish 2.0 DTS-HD, French 5.1 DTS-HD, German 2.0 Mono DTS-HD with Optional English Subtitles
Video: Dolby Vision, 2160p UltraHD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley Depaiva, Ted Raimi 

Synopsis: Ash, the sole survivor of The Evil Dead, returns to the same cabin in the woods and again unleashes the dead. With his girlfriend possessed and his body parts running amok, Ash must again single-handedly battle the damned in this unhinged horror classic!

In Sam Raimi's sequel to Evil Dead we have the reluctant hero Ash (Bruce Campell, Ash VS The Evil Dead) returning to the very same cabin in the woods where his last girlfriend (and whole group of friends and his sister) were slaughtered by demonic forces called "deadites". Why he would return to this cabin makes no sense whatsoever, and even less so when they get to the cabin and there doesn't seem to be any evidence of what happened there previously, you know, like dead bodies, pools of blood and demonic supernatural forces. Apparently Ash is real hard up to find a place to neck with his new girlfriend, who is also named Linda (Denise Bixler) - just like his last girlfriend. 

Things begin playing out much in the same way they unfolded in the first film with Ash finding and playing a tape recorded by  archaeologist who lived in the cabin, reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, and then all Hell breaks loose when the demonic presence possesses Linda, turning her into a "deadite", forcing Ash to decapitate his lady friend and burying her in the backyard, with he himself becoming temporarily possessed, with Linda's disembodies head returning from the grave, and a demonic grannie that's been buried in the basement running wild. More carnage ensues and Ash is forced to cut off his demonic infected hand with a chainsaw, which then has an evil-life of it's own, causing all sort of lunatic mayhem and Three Stooges inspired mayhem happening throughout. 

Not long after the archaeologist's adult daughter shows up unexpectedly along with a few redneck locals, all becoming fodder for the demonic Deadites, culminating in a the reading from the Book of the Dead that opens up a portal that transports Ash to medieval times, thereby setting up the sequel, Army of Darkness. 

Evil Dead 2 is a lot fun, a bloody, violent film that is also goofy and humorous, Raimi let loose with is love of The Three Stooges with Campbell being a perfect pratfalling hero to anchor the film, a reluctant and dip-shitted every man armed with a shotgun and a wrist-mounted chainsaw, unlucky enough to be fated as savior of humanity. 

Audio/Video: Sam Raimi's Phantasmagoric horror-comedy Evil Dead 2 arrives on 4K UltraHD from Lionsgate in 2160 Ultra HD framed in the original 1.85:1 widescreen. I've seen this film from the VHS on through to DVD and the two previous Blu-ray releases, each evolution to the next format bringing with it a better A/V presentation, and oh boy, does this deliver the blood splattered goods in UltraHD! Grain is nicely resolved, black are shadowy and deep, the HDR enhanced colors are vibrant, the detail of the forest and wood floors and paneling really shine, the crevices of Ash's bloodstained face, the colored lighting, it's a very fine presentation. Now, 4K doesn't really help certain scenes that show the low-budget limitations, but it maintains a very filmic look, as natural as the heightened reality of the film will allow. 

Sadly we do not get a Dolby Atmos bump, the film 4L presentation offering the same English DTS-HD MA 5.1 that accompanied the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray, but the good news is that it's a strong, well-balanced track with some fantastic use of the surrounds, a scene of eerie, otherworldly sounds filling the cabin and bouncing from corner to corner is always fun, and the Joseph LoDuca (Army of Darkness) score sounds terrific, optional English subtitles are provided. 

Looking into the extras most of them are on the accompanying Blu-ray, which is the exact same disc as the 25th Anniversary release from Lionsgate, the Blu-ray is the older transfer, not the Studio Canal restoration that the 4K Ultra HD presentation is based on, so if you are not 4K enabled yet you do not need to upgrade. The Blu-ray disc contains over three hours of excellent extras, plus the fantastic audio commentary with writer-director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. The 4K disc contains the same commentary but only one new-ish extras, but it's a goodie, a 53-min appreciation of the film made in 2018 for the Studio Canal special edition release, containing appreciations by Edgar Wright, Guillermo del Toro, and Roger Corman among others, it's a nice addition to the wealth of extras here. 

The 2-disc 4K/Blu-ray release comes in a cool looking black slipcase with a one-sided sleeve of artwork, the same key art as the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray. The 4K disc features the same artwork, the Blu-ray disc has the skull from the original, one-sheet movie poster, plus we get a slipcover with the same key art, one of those slips with the rounded edges that accompany most of the 4K releases. Inside there's a digital code for the HD version of the film, not the 4K. 

Special Features: 
4K Ultra HD
- NEW “Bloody and Groovy, Baby!” – A Tribute to Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 Featurette (53 min) 
- Audio Commentary with writer-director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero
- Audio Commentary with writer-director Sam Raimi, actor Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero
- “Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead 2” Featurette (98 min) 
- “Cabin Fever – A ‘Fly on the Wall’ Look Behind-the-Scenes of Evil Dead 2” Featurette (30 min) 
- “Road to Wadesboro: Revisiting the Shooting -Location with Filmmaker Tony Elwood” - Featurette (8 min) 
- “Evil Dead 2: Behind-the-Screams” Featurette (17 min) 
- “The Gore The Merrier” Featurette (32 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (1 min) 
- Still Galleries  

Evil Dead 2 (1987) is still one of my favorite horror comedies, it's right up there with The Return of the Living Dead (1986), Fright Night (1985) and Dead Alive (1992). I wish Sam Raimi would direct another horror film, I love his kinetic style, the way his camera moves and his slapstick sense of humor, it's been too long since Drag Me To Hell! The new 4K Ultra HD is top-notch, highly recommended for fans of the film, it's never looked better and the nearly hour long new extra is pretty cool.