Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead Edition (DVD)

Starring Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie DePaiva

Directed by Sam Raimi

Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

Why am I even writing this review? Part of it is obligation; we’re sent discs for review, so that’s the least we can do, right? But in all honesty, is there anything I could say about a new, Divimax edition of Evil Dead 2 that would persuade you not to buy it? Doubtful.

Not that I think you shouldn’t buy it, that’d be just crazy talk, but I want to make sure you have fair warning; other than the movie itself looking better than I’m sure even Raimi had ever expected or hoped it could and being packaged in one of the coolest looking cases out there, there’s not a helluva lot on this release you haven’t seen before.

Normally, at this point in a DVD review, I would lay out the plot for those of you that haven’t seen the actual movie; but realistically, what horror fan has not seen Evil Dead 2? The younger ones are the lucky ones, though, because all they know is the clean, pristine, 5.1 surround digital versions of Raimi’s classic slapstick splatter fest. They weren’t weaned on the teat of VHS the way some of us were, suffering through copies of the film in which all the blood was the same color (even though Raimi and crew used a rainbow of varieties for the hemoglobin) and the dark scenes were carried simply by the eyes and teeth of Bruce Campbell because everything else was too washed out. Those damn whippersnappers don’t know how tough we had it.

The same toughness only makes this version of Evil Dead 2 that much more satisfying to watch, however. It’s like seeing that neighborhood girl everyday for your young years, and then one day she shows up at the bus stop and you realizes she’s turned into a sexpot.

In other words, Evil Dead 2 has never looked or sounded better.

The features are the same as the ones from the Anchor Bay tin that came out many moons ago, so if you missed that run (as it was supposedly limited, though I’ve still seen them for sale from time to time), you’ll finally get to check them out.

The only new feature on this release is “Evil Dead 2: Behind the Screams,” but don’t let the title fool you. The feature consists of a series of still photos taken during production with narration done by Tom Sullivan, who created the Necronomicon for the film. There’s really nothing new here; Sullivan’s narration is pretty dull, and in the end I guess I just don’t see why Anchor Bay bothered with it. I guess they felt that, along with the new transfer and casing, they had to do at least one more special feature. If only it were more…special.

“The Gore the Merrier” is a half-hour extended interview with the men of KNB, namely Robert Kurtzman, Greg Nicetero and Howard Berger. ED 2 was the first movie the three of them had worked on together, so I guess we have Raimi to thank for one of the best makeup effects houses in the business. It’s entertaining as hell, giving loads of behind the scenes info interspliced with footage Nicetero shot while on set, and even though I already sat through it the on the first ED 2 release, I re-watched the whole thing this time, too. It’s just that fun.

Rounding out the disc you have the commentary (probably one of the funniest I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to), a set of trailers for things like Man With the Screaming Brain and the game Evil Dead: Regeneration, and Sam and Bruce bios.

Of course, it’s all about the packaging for this release, and that’s where it excels. While the first Book of the Dead release of Evil Dead was cool just because of what it was, this cover looks 10 times better than that one did, and it even screams when you press the bulging eyeball! Within are pages from the Necronomicon of course, and a plastic holder for the DVD. Conversely the inside of the ED Book release was put together a lot better, so I guess you’re trading one for the other here.

Like I said, there’s nothing I can really say that will sway you one way or the other. If you feel Anchor Bay is going too far with the milking of this trilogy (expect an AOD book release as well as a larger Book that will feature all three films in the future…not a fact, just a prediction based on logic), you probably won’t get it. If, however, you’re like our very own Plagiarize, who at last count owns four different versions of Army of Darkness, you’ve probably already got it pre-ordered.

If you’re more like me (somewhere in the middle), I will recommend this release as, if nothing else, a good companion piece for the original’s BOTD release. They look pretty damn snazzy next to one another I can tell you that!

4 out of 5

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Johnny Butane

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