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Review: 'Evil Dead 2' is a bloody good time on 4K UHD

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 2:58 PM Central

by John Couture

Whether you call it Evil Dead 2, Evil Dead II or Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, this horror movie by any other name would be as exquisite. Oddly, this film was my entry into Sam Raimi's horror franchise so many years ago and only recently did I go back and watch the first one.

In fact, my first viewing of The Evil Dead was for the 4K UHD review that I did earlier this year. It's only fitting then that I continue down this dark path with a review of the 4K UHD offering for Evil Dead 2. Unlike the original low-budget indie that kicked off all of the fun, this film truly begins to showcase the hallmark comedy that has given Ash so many faithful followers.

Events in Evil Dead 2 pretty much pick up where the first one leaves off. Well, there is a bit of retro-continuity (retcon) at the beginning, but primarily the movie follows Ash after the events of The Evil Dead still trying to escape this isolated cabin while battling an ancient evil and various undead creatures and body parts.

Evil Dead 2 is one of those rare films in which it as the sequel is better than the original film. There are very few films that can make that claim, but Evil Dead 2 is certainly one of them. While I was confident that the film would hold up after I recently discovered the first movie, I can say conclusively that while The Evil Dead is a fine indie horror film, it is definitely overshadowed by its sequel.

The brilliance of Evil Dead 2 lies in its willingness to take risks and veer off into new directions. In many ways not only is it a parody of the first film but it steers the franchise clearly in the direction of horror comedy which, for its time, was truly ground-breaking.

The true legacy of Evil Dead 2 is demonstrated by the wide proliferation of horror-comedies in the intervening years. Whether it is through direct homages such as The Cabin in the Woods or Tucker & Dale vs. Evil or more subtle ones like Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead, Evil Dead 2's fingerprints are all over the horror genre in the last 30 years. In fact, it's probably harder to find a film that wasn't, at least in part, directly influenced by this iconic film.

If I had any qualms about reviewing this movie in 4K UHD, they were quickly quashed within minutes. Not only does the film itself hold up well to the savagery of time, but the new format actually makes the film look better than ever before.

The new 4K video transfer with HDR brings vibrant colors to the film where the latest 1080p Blu-ray transfer shows the movie's age a bit more. Like any good horror film, Evil Dead 2 has plenty of shadows and dark scenes, but the new Dolby Vision track provides greater black detail and truly allows the film to shine in a way that we haven't seen in decades.

On the audio sound of things, there doesn't appear to be any updates to the existing 5.1 DTS-HD audio track. I was really hoping there would be a Dolby Atmos upgrade here, but honestly, the audio is fine as is and doesn't do anything to detract from the improved visual experience.

There was a nice bonus in the special features. Most of these catalog reissues on 4K UHD don't offer anything in terms of new features, but Evil Dead 2 isn't like most films. While there was only one new bonus feature, the 52-minute featurette "Bloody and Groovy, Baby!" is a fun and raucous tribute to the film that basically created the cult classic genre.

If that wasn't enough, the included Blu-ray includes all of the special features that were made available on the latest 25th Anniversary Blu-ray, so this collection doesn't feel so much like a cash grab as simply the preeminent version of the film that should replace your lesser copies.

Evil Dead 2 is now available on 4K UHD.