Evil Dead II (also known as Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn) is a 1987 horror-comedy directed by Sam Raimi and is a sequel to the 1981 horror film The Evil Dead. The film was written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, produced by Robert Tapert and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams.
The film begins with a revised recap of the events of the first film. Ash Williams and his girlfriend Linda take a romantic vacation to a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods. While in the cabin, Ash plays a tape of an archaeology professor (the cabin's previous inhabitant), reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (or Book of the Dead), which he has discovered during an archaeological dig. The recorded incantation unleashes an evil force which kills and later possesses Linda. Ash is then forced to decapitate his girlfriend for his own safety. After he buries Linda, a spirit is seen hunting for Ash. The film then picks up with Ash becoming briefly possessed by the demon, but when day breaks the spirit is gone, and Ash is back to normal. Ash finds little chance of safety, however, as the bridge leading to the cabin is destroyed. To make things worse, Linda was revived and attacks Ash by biting his hand with her head. Ash brings Linda's severed head to the shed where her headless body attacks him with a chainsaw but Ash gains the upper hand and slashes the relentless zombified Linda to death, killing her once and for all. Later on, Ash is forced to sever his bitten right hand, which has become possessed.
While Ash is dealing with this force, the professor's daughter, Annie , and her research partner, Ed Getley, return from the dig with more pages of the Necronomicon in tow, only to find the destroyed bridge. They enlist the help of Jake and Bobby Joe to guide them along an alternate trail to the cabin. The four of them find an embattled Ash, who is, seemingly, slowly being driven insane due to his encounter with the demon, such as hallucinating that the room comes to life and begins laughing hysterically at him.
At first, he is mistaken for a murderer by the four people because he shoots at them through the door (mistaking them as the Evil Force), but they find out the truth after listening to a recording of Annie's father, Professor Knowby, that talked about how his wife Henrietta was possessed and buried in the cabin's cellar rather than dismembered. Ed is possessed and is soon dismembered by an axe wielding Ash. Bobby Joe tries to escape, but is attacked by the demon trees and dragged to her death. Annie translates two of the pages before Jake turns on them and throws the pages into the cellar, holding them at gunpoint to force them to go look for Bobby Joe. Ash is possessed once again and turns on his remaining companions, incapacitating Jake. Annie retreats to the cabin and accidentally stabs Jake (mistaking him for the demon) and drags him to the cellar door, where he is killed by Henrietta in a bloodbath. Ash tries to kill Annie, but returns to normal when he sees Linda's necklace, reminding him of her.
Ash, with Annie's help, modifies the chainsaw and attaches it to where his right hand had been. Ash eventually finds the missing pages of the Necronomicon and kills Henrietta, turned into a long-necked monster. Annie chants an incantation that sends the evil force back to where it came from. The incantation opens up a whirling temporal portal which not only draws in the evil force, but nearby trees, the Oldsmobile, and Ash himself. Ash's possessed hand stabs and kills Annie with the Kandarian dagger.
Ash and his Oldsmobile land in what appears to be the Crusader-held Middle East in the year 1300 AD. He is then confronted by a group of knights who initially mistake him for a deadite, but they are quickly distracted when a real one actually shows up. Ash blasts the harpy-like deadite with his shotgun and is hailed as a hero who has come to save the realm, at which point he breaks down and screams "No!"
Though they had only recently received the funding necessary to produce the film, the script had been written for some time, having been composed largely during the production of Crimewave. Raimi contacted his old friend Scott Spiegel, who had collaborated with Campbell and others on the Super-8 films they had produced during their
With the script completed, and a production company secured, filming could begin. The production commenced in Wadesboro, North Carolina, not far from De Laurentiis' offices in Wilmington. De Laurentiis had wanted them to film in his elaborate Wilmington studio, but the production team felt uneasy being so close to the producer, so they moved to Wadesboro, approximately three hours away. Steven Spielberg had previously filmed The Color Purple in Wadesboro, and the large white farmhouse used as an exterior location in that film became the production office for Evil Dead II. Most of the film was shot in the woods near that farmhouse, or J.R. Faison Junior High School, which is where the interior cabin set was located.
The film's production was not nearly as chaotic or strange as the production of the original, largely because of Raimi, Tapert and Campbell's additional filmmaking experience. However, there are nevertheless numerous stories about the strange happenings on the set. For instance, the Rat seen in the cellar was nicknamed "Señor Cojones" by the crew. "Cojones" is Spanish slang for "testicles".
Even so, there were hardships, mostly involving Ted Raimi's costume. Ted, director Sam's younger brother, had been involved in the first film briefly, acting as a fake Shemp, but in Evil Dead II he gets the larger role of the historian's demon-possessed wife, Henrietta. Raimi was forced to wear a full-body, latex costume, crouch in a small hole in the floor acting as a "cellar", or on one day, both. Raimi became extremely overheated, to the point that his costume was literally filled with liters of sweat; Special effects artist Gregory Nicotero describes pouring the fluid into several Dixie cups so as to get it out of the costume. The sweat is also visible on-screen, dripping out of the costume's ear, in the scene where Henrietta spins around over Annie's head.
The crew also sneaked various in-jokes into the film itself, such as the easter egg with the clawed glove of Freddy Krueger, the primary antagonist of the A Nightmare on Elm Street series of slasher films, which hangs in the cabin's basement and toolshed. This was, at least partially, a reference to a scene in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street where Heather Langenkemp's character watches the original Evil Dead on a television set in her room. In turn, that scene was a reference to the torn The Hills Have Eyes poster seen in the original Evil Dead film, which was itself a reference to a torn Jaws poster in The Hills Have Eyes. At the film's wrap party, the crew held a talent contest, where Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell sang The Byrds' "Eight Miles High", with Nicotero on guitar.