*I'm really glad that subtitle is only in the publicity materials because I've never liked it.
I will say right off the bat that I enjoy this a lot more than the original Evil Dead and think that it's a vast improvement over it. It feels like this is the movie that Raimi always wanted to make with that first film, only now he had the money to pull it off. It's infinitely crazier, insane, and cartoonish, to the point where it makes the original look subtle... and that's what I enjoyed about it. I loved seeing the crazy and creative stuff that Raimi was coming up, which often got to the point where you could stop the movie and, while laughing, think to yourself, "What the hell am I watching right now?" What's more, the film's energy is manic, to say the least, and it throws one crazy thing after another at you for virtually the entire 84 minutes, with little chances for you to take a breath. However, I think that is also the movie's biggest weakness. While I enjoy seeing Raimi getting to cut loose, it gets to the point where it feels like overkill and, by the end of the movie, I start to burn out. It's still an enjoyable film for the craziness and imagination, as well as for Bruce Campbell, but it's like dealing with a little kid who's had too much sugar: after a while, you need some peace and quiet.
We might as well get the big issue that even the real diehard fans of the movie have out of the way right now because it's something of a sticking point for me too: if this is a sequel, then why does it seem to completely retcon the first movie in its opening? And furthermore, why does Ash appear to return to the cabin with no memory of what happened before? The reason for these circumstances in reality is because Raimi couldn't get the rights to footage from the first film to bridge the gap to the sequel, so he had to create a quick and effective recap for those who hadn't seen it from scratch, but in the context of the films, how does this work? Indeed, this film does seem to exist in a separate continuity from the original Evil Dead, with Ash and his girlfriend appearing to have been the only ones who went up to the cabin rather than him and a group of his friends, which is further compounded by there being no mention of what happened to those other friends or even a glimpse at their remains. I've heard that the film is really meant to begin at the point where the evil force crashes into Ash and sends him flying through the forest, carrying on from the ending of the first film, while everything before that was meant as a substitute for the footage that they weren't allowed to use in order to explain why Ash was at the cabin to begin with, right down to his girlfriend's name still being Linda and her dying in the same manner as in the first film. That's really confusing and I don't think has ever been done in such a way in any other sequel but it is a suitable enough explanation and I'd be willing to go with it... if Ash didn't seem so shocked that the bridge has been destroyed, which he already knew in the previous film. I guess you could say that he was so panicked to get away that he forgot that the bridge was out but, for those who have seen the original film, this whole state of affairs is really confusing, and Army of Darkness only adds to it, as we'll get into there. It's something that I try my best to let go of so I can just enjoy the film but it's sometimes very hard for me to do that, no matter how entertaining the movie gets.
Evil Dead II's craziness is definitely what everybody remembers from it but, as I said in my introduction, I think it's also something of a weakness. While I enjoy the creativity and lunatic imagination that Sam Raimi puts into the movie, he throws so much crazy stuff at you so frequently and with so few breaks in-between that, by the end of the movie, I begin to burn out, even though it's only 84 minutes long. Raimi said in an interview around that time that he thinks that the worst sin a filmmaker can commit is to make a boring movie and while I do agree with that sentiment, a movie that goes at a mile-a-minute with few moments where it stops to catch a breath can become just as tiresome as a very slow movie where little happens. At the end of the day, that's my biggest issue with Evil Dead II: rather than boring, as I felt the original was at points, it becomes tiresome due to the insanity, despite how cosistently creative and well-executed it is throughout.
One thing I'm noticing in reviewing them is that the Evil Dead movies may be known for a lot of things but memorable music isn't one of them. Joseph LoDuca, who would go on to score Darkman and Army of Darkness for Raimi, returns and I actually remember his score here even less than I did the original film's. At least the original had that Dixieland tune and some occasional themes that were memorable for better or for worse; the only thing I remember here is a generic, "dun, dun, dun," bit that was played over the DVD menu screen, which the entire score seemed to jump off from. I honestly can't remember anything else about the score except that it was that generic throughout. I guess the music got lost in the movie's mayhem to my ears.