A splattering good time


September 25, 2005|By MICHAEL SRAGOW

Evil Dead 2 -- Anchor Bay / $39.98 / The summa of splatter movies, Evil Dead 2 emerges Tuesday in a revamped and deluxe Anchor Bay DVD, complete with a rubbery Necronomicon Ex Mortis cover. (For non-initiates, that's the name of the film's Book of the Dead.) Before he went mainstream, in good ways, with films like A Simple Plan (1998) and the Spider-Man epics (2002, 2004), director Sam Raimi combined slapstick and Grand Guignol with more inventiveness and audacity than anyone else has before or since. Intent on nothing more profound than getting a film launched and making it outrageously entertaining, Raimi used the dehumanization of the horror genre circa 1987 as an excuse for hellbent camerawork and comedy. The characters become fodder for bloody burlesque. Because Raimi and his producer, Rob Tapert, couldn't raise enough money for a true sequel to The Evil Dead (1), they decided to remake the original as farce. The plot is identical (and almost non-existent): The hero (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend enter the obligatory remote cabin and awake the spirits of the dead. The kick of the film lies in its cascade of outrageous gags involving (among other things) a runaway eyeball and shorn limbs and decapitation. In this movie, when the director makes an allusion to A Farewell to Arms, he really is referring to a farewell to arms.

Special features This DVD retains audio commentary by Raimi, Campbell and others, but adds a new featurette - "Evil Dead 2: Behind the Screams". Along with an earlier featurette, "The Gore the Merrier," it captures in snapshot fashion Raimi's surreal Three Stooges Meets Dali sensibility. The main attraction, though, is that the movie remains a one-time-only gore-and-gag-filled jamboree.

Also anticipated

New, Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset -- A&E Home Video / $199.95 In the tradition of Monty Python re-releasing Monty Python and the Holy Grail with a whole 24 more rollicking seconds, the New, Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus 16-Ton Megaset arrives on A&E DVD Tuesday. The main difference is that A&E Home Video has succeeded in "squeezing a full 16-tons of humor into a petite, shelf-friendly package." In addition to every Monty Python's Flying Circus episode ever aired, the set contains two bonus discs with Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, Monty Python Live at Aspen, Monty Python's Fliegender Zirkus (the German episode!) and the Steve Martin-hosted 20 Years of Python. Because Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, John Cleese, Eric Idle, and Michael Palin were creating comedy and performing it, like the British comedy group Beyond the Fringe before them and the Beatles in the musical world, this set still gives off a fresh and bristling spunkiness.


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