Evil Dead II 4K Blu-ray Review
Builds and expands on the original ideas while still remaining faithful
Evil Dead II Film Review
GroovyIn Many ways Evil Dead II is the perfect sequel: it takes the original idea, builds and expands on the premise, has a bigger budget, wilder effects, is more outlandish and takes the themes into a new direction while still remaining faithful. Except it isn’t. At least not to me.
Now, I know that Evil Dead II is highly regarded, has many, many fans, and is cited as an influence for many new film-makers. But to me, the original Evil Dead is a masterwork in horror; a relentless exercise an abject terror. A film that took the genre and shook it awake, bringing gruesome dismemberment to the masses and becoming instantly recognisable and ever afterwards an icon. Its success was a double edged sword though, for Raimi was shocked to discover his ‘funny little film’ vilified in certain markets, not least here in the UK where it was banned in the Video Nasty era. So after the commercial failure of Crimewave, Raimi returned to his roots to continue the story of his Evil Dead, but being mindful of the revulsion his first film caused, decided to lighten the tone and aim towards a horror comedy.
Securing the finance, bringing together much of the same team, the bigger budget meant more of everything – effects, gore, and ideas. And there is no denying that the film delivers on that front. Indeed, I love the set-up and payoff of the closing scene! And the vision and camera work are wild in their abandonment. But where the film irks me is with its reliance on slapstick comedy; Raimi’s love of The Three Stooges becoming obvious during the making of this film, and I hate The Three Stooges, so I have never really warmed to this picture, and I have seen and owned it, many times, it just doesn’t do it for me.
Curiously, my wife, who hates all things horror, was actually laughing during certain scenes, so if an Evil Dead film can sway someone such as her to enjoy the experience that must be a good thing, right? Just not for me though, I prefer my horror to be horror, or have a better mix – to me Army of Darkness was a perfect blend, and I know you have to have part 2 to get to part 3, but I don’t have to like it.
Evil Dead II 4K Blu-ray Picture QualityEvil Dead II was shot using a combination of Arriflex 35BL and Mitchell BNCR cameras on 35mm film. The source for this release was made from the original camera negative which was scanned at 4K resolution and utilised for the creation of this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The disc presents a native 4K 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for both Dolby Vision and HDR10. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Evil Dead II on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
On the whole, considering the budget, this is a very pleasing image
This new scan reveals a wealth of detail in the image, from skin texture and clothing weaves, to wood grain, mud and leaves, tree bark, crockery and writing. Indeed the keenness of the edges can often be detrimental to the makeup effects! But the image has never looked sharper than it does here. This is helped immensely by the addition of the WCG and HDR which push the colouring and black levels far beyond anything that the Blu-ray can offer.
Colours really pop; the red and green of the various bloods that cover the screen at times have never been so vivid and intense. The blue of Ash’s shirt or the green of the woods have a depth never before seen. The black level is just about impenetrable, whether it is in the cellar or the woods, the depth to frame is magnificent. While the white end of the scale pushes the frame outwards with highlights really gleaming; the shotgun blasts are quite blinding!
Digitally, there are no compression issues and the original source is free from dirt and grime. There is a pleasing sheet of film grain throughout, only amplified during some of the matte shots. On the whole, considering the budget, this is a very pleasing image.
Evil Dead II 4K Blu-ray Sound QualityUnfortunately, there has been no enhancement to the sound track, it is the same DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround that has adorned previous releases; and whilst this is a shame, the track itself is pretty impressive. It makes good use of the surround environment with several wrap around effects – the ‘Evil Dead’ as it’s moving through the forest, the laughing cabin interior, the knocking outside the cabin being just three examples. Dialogue is held mainly towards the frontal array, though there is the occasional bout of directionality; it always sounds natural enough (excepting the demonising) and is never lost in the mix. Bass is well maintained with some decent enough LF effects, trees pounding the cabin and the cellar door for example, while adding to the score. Ambient effects from the surrounds are well handled providing some eerie atmosphere to the proceedings. In all, a decent track.
Evil Dead II 4K Blu-ray ExtrasThe set comprises of three discs, the UHD and one of the Blu-rays holds the film, and a second Blu-ray houses the extra material.
Audio Commentary - With contributions from Sam Raimi, co-writer Scott Spiegel, Bruce Campbell, and special effects artist Greg Nicotero contains plenty of laughs and technical info in equal mesure.
Bloody and Groovy, Baby: A Tribute to Sam Raimi's Evil Dead 2 – Is a 50 minute documentary produced by Studiocanal and features a gaggle of directors/writers/effects artists that discuss what the film means to them and how its influence is felt; as you might expect there are a lot of French speaking participants subtitled in English.
Special Features Blu-ray
Swallowed Souls: The Making of Evil Dead 2 – Feature length (when using play all) selection of featurettes that cover all aspects of production and beyond; plenty of interviews with all those concerned as well as behind the scenes filming.
Cabin Fever: A "Fly on the Wall" Look Behind the Scenes of Evil Dead II – 30 minute short of videos shot by Greg Nicotero's on his own kit, containing plenty of the ‘gags’ he created for the film.
Road to Wadesboro: Revisiting the Shooting Location with Filmmaker Tony Elwood – Spend 8 minutes with the props guy going back to the locations.
Evil Dead II: Behind-the-Screams – 20 minute Anchor Bay produced feature with Tom Sullivan narrating a slideshow of stills, showcasing effects and behind the scenes images.
The Gore the Merrier – 30 minute feature looking behind the scenes from an effects point of view and at the amount of ‘blood’ used.
Interview with Bruce Campbell – 20 minute feature with ‘the chin’ discussing his time on the production.
Evil Dead II 4K Blu-ray VerdictThere is no denying the impact of Evil Dead II. Cited by filmmakers the world over as an influence, its madcap nature, blood in excess, and building and expanding on the Evil Dead universe; gave the audience what they wanted: not just more of the same, but also more. It’s just the film is not for everyone; the humour aspect is ramped right up and some, like me, find it goes a bit too far, yet for others, even those not into horror, it makes the film watchable and entertaining.
As a 4K UHD, the set from Studiocanal is pretty good; the native 4K image is clean, well detailed, with impressive colouring and excellent blacks. A shame there has been no enhancement to the surround track but the old DTS-HD MA 5.1 track makes good use of the speakers and bass. There is also a reasonable set of extras bringing together the best of previous releases.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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