Evil Dead II
(1987, Dir. by Sam Raimi.)
Why It's Here:
Though it's obviously a sequel - some would argue that it's a remake - Evil Dead II holds a unique place in horror history. Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell followed up their beloved first film with a most excellent blend of horror and comedy that is still a crowd pleaser today. It might not top the splatter that we saw in The Evil Dead (SPOILER ALERT: Few films do.) but the addition of more blatant comic aspects - and the evolution of Campbell's iconic Ash character - have put this on the short-list of the greatest horror sequels out there.
The Moment That Changes Everything:
Ash goes through a lot through the Evil Dead series, but he might be at his low point during the darkly comic scene in which he joins most of the generally-inanimate objects in that cursed cabin in a bit of hysterical laughter. I think my favorite side character in the scene is the lamp that dances with Ash for a few moments, but that's not the point I'm looking for. The point is that Evil Dead II keeps finding new ways to surprise, and this is one of my favorites.
It Makes a Great Double Feature With:
One of the most interesting things about the Evil Dead films, at least to me, is that there really wasn't much like them released in the 1980s. This was the decade of the slasher, the sequel, and the teen horror film - and I'm pretty stumped to find something of its era that matches ED2. If there's anything I've seen that matches the crazy intensity of this film, it might be the recent horror hit and future cult classic The Cabin in the Woods, which not only refers to the Evil Dead 'verse but honors it wonderfully.
What It Means To Me:
It was once just an entertaining diversion, but Evil Dead II has kind of become a case study in horror to me over the years. There's so much in this film series that is without equal anywhere else in horror, and I always seem to find something new and unique about all three films. Evil Dead II has lost a little luster over the years - might be because I've seen it dozens of times and know the gags too well - but it's still a fascinating piece of horror that I can admire any day.