Inspired as much by the slapstick of the Three Stooges as he was by the kinetic, flying camera work of Japanese horror cinema, Raimi hurled his 16mm camera around a remote blood-drenched cabin near Morristown, Tennessee, and made horror film history. Longtime friend Bruce Campbell played the reluctant hero, Ash. One of the only actors to remain loyal to the film, Campbell spent much of the 18-month shoot coated in fake blood. Still, with a crew that included Joel Coen as assistant editor, The Evil Dead stands above its mostly forgotten peers in the 80s horror boom.
For the sequel, Dino de Laurentiis coughed up far more than the dentists and private investors who funded the first one had done, allowing Raimi access to the Steadicams and cranes he had previously had to fashion out of wood. Unable to get the rights to his own footage for the opening flashbacks, Raimi simply refilmed it for the first 10 minutes of screen time, then kept up the breakneck pace for the next 74 by creating more abuse for Campbell, more blood on the screen and more fun for the audience.
In 1982, five Michigan State University students — Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), their friend Scotty, and his girlfriend Shelly—venture into rural Tennessee to vacation in an isolated cabin for their spring break. They soon run into trouble, with Scotty nearly colliding with a truck, then barely getting the group to safety when the bridge leading to the cabin starts to collapse. That night, while Cheryl is sketching an old clock, her hand becomes possessed, causing her to draw a picture that looks like a book with a deformed, evil face. Unsure of what to do, she decides not to mention the incident to the others.
When the trapdoor to the cellar mysteriously flies open during dinner, Ash and Scotty go down to investigate and find the Naturom Demonto, a Sumerian version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, along with a tape recorder belonging to the archeologist who owned it. When Scotty plays it, the archeologist’s voice recites a series of incantations, resurrecting a mysterious, demonic entity. Cheryl becomes increasingly hysterical and locks herself in her room. Later, she hears strange voices and goes outside to investigate. She is attacked by demonically possessed trees, but manages to escape. Unable to convince the others of what happened, she asks Ash to take her into town for the night. However, Ash soon discovers that the bridge has been destroyed. Back at the cabin, Ash listens to more of the tape, learning that the only way to kill the entity is to dismember it when it possesses a host. Cheryl succumbs to the entity and attacks the others, stabbing Linda in the foot with a pencil before Scotty is able to force her into the cellar.
I believe I have made a significant find in the Kandarian ruins, a volume of ancient Sumarian burial practices and funerary incantations. It is entitled “Naturon Demonto”, roughly translated: Book of the Dead. The book is bound in human flesh and inked in human blood. It deals with demons and demon resurrection and those forces which roam the forest and dark bowers of Man’s domain. The first few pages warn that these enduring creatures may lie dormant but are never truly dead. They may be recalled to active life through the incantations presented in this book. It is through the recitation of these passages that the demons are given license to possess the living.
Voice on Recorder
Shelly becomes possessed as well, forcing Scotty to chop up her body with an axe and bury the remains. Shaken by the experience, he leaves to find a way back to town. When Ash goes to check on Linda, he is horrified to find that she has already begun to turn. A badly-injured Scotty staggers into the cabin and dies of his wounds, having been attacked by the trees. While Ash tries to figure out what to do, both Linda and Cheryl pretend to be cured, only to quickly revert to their demonic forms. Ash locks Linda outside, but she returns and tries to stab him before he impales her with a dagger. He tries to cut up her remains with a chainsaw, but ends up burying her instead. When she escapes again, he finally manages to decapitate her with a shovel. Back in the cabin, he quickly realizes that Cheryl has forced open the trapdoor. After wounding her with a shotgun, he heads to the basement for more ammunition. There, the entity tortures him by dousing him with blood from a pipe, while more blood seeps from the walls and ceilings.
Scotty is revived as a demon and attacks Ash when he goes back upstairs, while Cheryl savagely beats him with a metal poker. Ash gets his hands on the book and throws it into the fireplace, causing both of them to rapidly decay into blood and bones. Covered in blood, Ash stumbles outside as the sun begins to rise. Before he can get in his car to leave, the entity attacks him from behind as he lets out a final scream.