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Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2
reviewed by Donald Melanson

October 07 , 2005 | Some people like the fall movie season because it's when all the "serious" films are released — when Oscar buzz is more important than box office receipts. One of the reasons I like it is because it's when studios unload lots of great (and not-so-great) horror films on DVD. And this year has been uncommonly good for horror fans.

Last month Universal released their complete library of Hammer films in one shot, as well as some of Bela Lugosi's and Boris Karloff's best films. Warner Bros. has just released the long-awaited Val Lewton collection. And Anchor Bay, a company known especially well for their horror titles, has just put out a new and improved edition of Sam Raimi's great Evil Dead II.

The movie is partly a sequel and partly a remake of Evil Dead, Raimi's ultra low budget but wildly inventive film starring cult legend Bruce Campbell. In Evil Dead II, Campbell reprises his role as Ash, who again must battle the evil forces he unwittingly unleashes whilst trapped in a secluded cabin.

That happens in the film's first few minutes; what follows is a breathlessly paced movie that walks the line between horror and comedy better than any other film I've seen. And unlike some other horror comedies, you can tell that Raimi and co. genuinely love the films that they reference and spoof.

Following Anchor Bay's special "Book of the Dead" edition of the first Evil Dead movie, this new DVD comes in a fleshy (and smelly) packaging designed by special effects artist Tom Sullivan. As an added bonus, it'll even scream if you poke it in the eye.

The DVD itself has also been updated over the previous version with one short behind-the-scenes feature added to all the old extras, including a great commentary track with Raimi, Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. Most importantly, the transfer has been upgraded, with the process supervised by no less than Sam Raimi himself - I don't have the previous edition to compare it to but it looks great to my eyes.

If you don't already have the first Evil Dead Book of the Dead edition, however, you may want to hold off your purchase until next month, as Anchor Bay is releasing a limited edition set of both movies at a significant discount. That will also apparently be the last chance to get the Book of the Dead edition of the first film.

Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of Mindjack and a freelance writer for hire. In addition to Mindjack, his work has appeared in The Globe & Mail, Engadget, and MovieMaker Magazine.

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