Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn

It’s the middle of June during the Summer of ‘93. I’m 16 years old and instead of spending my vacation trying to pick up girls at the local pool or hanging out at the mall like any respectable teenage degenerate, I’m hunched over an easel in a studio classroom underneath the Corcoran Art Gallery. Sitting next to me is another kid of similar height and build, both of us in the 6-foot range, and neither weighing over 145 pounds.

His name is Kevin and we share a strange thing in common: We were born exactly one year apart. In the same hospital. You see, through a series of complications not important enough to mention, we were both forced to present our birth certificates to attend this particular class. It was then that we noticed we were both born on October 28th at 1:45 p.m. in George Washington Memorial Hospital. I in 1976, and he in ‘77. Using this and the fact that we were eerily similar as a springboard, we kick up a friendship, and it’s at this time he passes me a beat-up video tape with the words “Evil Dead 2” scrawled across the edge in ballpoint. Thus was my first exposure to the manic mind of Sam Raimi, and the reigning king of B Movies: Bruce Campbell.

The tale is a fairly simple one. Ash (Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda take a romantic vacation to a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods, and before you can say “Klatu Verata Nictu”, Ash plays a found tape reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the Book of the Dead-unleashing an evil force which soon takes possession of Linda. Romantic getaway effectively over, Ash is forced to kill, dismember, and bury her. But it ain’t over, because something in the woods remains and continues to terrorize Ash.

In other words: It’s a haunted house/woods movie. Only one with zombies, demons, and the Three Stooges thrown in the mix. A hyper-kinetic picture that effectively scares as much as it sparks laughter. A film that became such a success that it lead to a wide release sequel, Army of Darkness-which abandoned most of the horror in favor of Action/Adventure and is a cult-classic in its own right. But we’re not here to talk about the giddy glee that Evil Dead II inspires. No, we’re here to talk about the Chainsaw.

Roughly a third of the way through the picture, the evil pursuing Ash gets into his hand and it goes “bad”, trying repeatedly to kill him in one of the more memorable scenes of the picture. So Ash does the only sensible thing: he cuts it off with the Chainsaw. Then much later in the picture, when he decides he’s had just about enough of these Evil Dead causing trouble, he devises a mount that attaches to his wrist, enabling him to attach the chainsaw…thus creating one of the most famous monster fighting weapons in movie history, and cementing this flick’s place in our list.

Sure, you could argue that in the follow-up, Army of Darkness, we got the Chainsaw arm, Boomstick Kata, Plate Mail Fist, and the Death-moldsmobile. We certainly did. But nothing beats the first appearance of the chainsaw arm, so we’re going with the one, the only, Evil Dead II.

Groovy.

Idle Hands

When both the slow stalking pace of Halloween and the deliberately studied atmospheric feel of Pumpkinhead failed to energize the crowd for Cavalcade Event 8 and frankly, I was getting worried. Fortunately, the crowd was willing to step once more into the breach… and I had just the picture.

Featuring Devon SawaSeth GreenVivica A. Fox, and Jessica Alba’s ass, Idle Hands tells the tale of Anton Tobias (Sawa)-a teenaged slacker who’s primary daily concern is how little can he do, and how stoned can he be while doing it. Life is good for Anton, especially since his parents haven’t been bugging him lately about silly things like going to school and what he plans to do after graduation. Of course, this is most likely because they’ve been killed and stashed away for the last few days.

In short order, we find out they’ve been murdered by his right hand while he was asleep. Apparently Anton is so lazy, the devil got into his right hand and did what the devil does-no, not masturbate-commit bloody murder and play mind games with the protagonist.

Meanwhile, Anton’s buddies Pnub (Elden Henson) and Mick (Green)-also fine upstanding citizens stoners-are doing much the same thing in their basement, though they've been clued-in to the fact that somebody’s been going around killing a bunch of people. They find out it’s their good buddy Anton (well, his hand) fairly soon, right around the time he stabs Mick in the face with a broken bottle and chops off Pnub’s head with a saw blade. But they don’t hold it against him when they come back as zombies (because heaven was, to quote “really far!”).

All this, and we haven’t  gotten to Vivica A. Fox’s throwaway role of the Druid chasing down the evil hand. I say “throwaway” because she’s only in the movie to say the best line in the picture, and walk off again. It’s barely more than a cameo. Oh, and did I mention Jessica Alba’s ass? I don’t usually go on about something like this, but the Director was obviously fond of it, because he essentially gave it star billing by carefully angling every shot she’s in to showcase it. Seriously, it should get its own credit in the picture.

This move is, simply put, brilliantly idiotic. It is not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, save for our purposes, where it’s perfect. It moves quickly, doesn’t take itself seriously, is competently filmed (a rarity in our more recent selections), and has as many shots of Jessica Alba in cute little outfits as they could possibly fit. After getting such a slow start, this movie revamped Event 8 enough that we went for an unprecedented 4th feature: Evil Toons!