Mr. DuLac’s review published on Letterboxd:
We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound "fine"?
I love this film unabashedly. To get it out of the way upfront, I do prefer it over the original Evil Dead, but it is a ridiculously close call. The fact of the matter is I find it hard to compare the two films because I don't think they belong in the same "sub-genre". I won't argue with anyone who prefers the original though, because I think it's a perfectly valid opinion. I will question you however if you claim that Army of Darkness is the best of the three.
After the horrible experience making Crimewave and it's subsequent failure at the box office, Sam Raimi and company needed to get back on track. So goes the story as to how production on Evil Dead II began. Crimewave was interfered with to no end, including the studio changing the composer, editor and star of the film against Raimi's wishes. Thanks to some convincing from Stephen King, the sequel found financing from a production house that would offer no interference during the production. Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tapert were able to put Crimewave behind them and try to salvage their Hollywood careers.
If Crimewave had any positives though, it's adding more filmmaking experience to the trio. It's evident from the beginning of the film that there is more confidence in every aspect of the film. It's clear that Raimi spent time honing his skills after the original movie. Campbell comes off as a much more confident actor while changing the character quite a bit.
The tone of the film is also changed. It's infused with much more dark humor and has a manic intensity running through it. It sacrifices the foreboding dread of the original for humor, satire and fun. While the first one built up the atmosphere before the terror, this one hits the ground running at a frightening pace.
Most of the manic energy of the film is thanks to Bruce Campbell's performance as Ash. As much as anyone loves the original film, it's this one that actually made the Ash character part of cult horror. His journey into madness does get creepy at some points even though it's played more for gags like the scene where he utters "Who's laughing now?" with chainsaw in hand.
That's just one of many joyfully horrific moments in the film, most of which are practical effects giving amazing results. Another example is the "mirror scene" that still has great effect to this day even though it's obvious how it was done. It shows that it's not enough to have the knowledge of how to pull off the effect, but also how to film it, light it and cut it. It leaves no doubt that an expert craftsmen is behind the camera.
While I'm obviously in the "Evil Dead II" camp, I fully understand why someone might prefer the original. They are two different beasts. I will say that I think if they had tried to make a sequel in the same tone and fashion as the original I probably wouldn't have liked it as much. It would have just been more of the same, kinda like Halloween II. I am thankful however that we have these two great films to enjoy in a genre that I love.
Horroctober II: Bride of DuLac