DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Sep 23, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    [​IMG]

    EVIL DEAD 2: BOOK OF THE DEAD 2





    Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Film Year: 1987

    U.S. Rating: Not Rated
    Canadian Rating: Not Rated

    Film Length: 84 minutes
    Genre: Horror

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.85 Enhanced widescreen
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    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English [​IMG] [​IMG] 5.1 Surround[*] English [​IMG] [​IMG] 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: none

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    Release Date: September 27, 2005.


    Entertainment Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Sarah Berry (Annie), Dan Hicks (Jake), Kassie Wesley (Bobbie Joe), Denise Bixler (Linda), Richard Domeier (Ed)

    Written by: Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel
    Directed by: Sam Raimi


    It smells foul. It feels fleshy. It looks demonic. If you touch it, it screams. No guys, it’s not your wife first thing in the morning. It’s the newest in conceptual art packaging from Anchor Bay Entertainment! Evil Dead 2: Book of the Dead 2 is now available in similar fashion as the flesh-wrapped Necronomicon of the first limited-release edition of The Evil Dead. This new book is meaner looking, resembling a little more like the Necronomicon in the third film Army of Darkness sporting teeth and bulging eyes. Thankfully, it still has that mmm mmm smell of latex fresh out of the package – and if you touch the eye, it screams at you!

    The screaming book is a good gag, especially since the scream is as girly as Ash’s scream when Henrietta pops out of the basement floor. And this movie is full of good screams. For those of you unfamiliar with this title, it begins with a quick recap of the first Evil Dead movie (minus some details) and then continues on with the torture of Ash. An archaeologist left behind the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, aka The Book of the Dead at a remote cabin in the woods. Ash arrives there with his girlfriend for a weekend getaway and he notices the book and a recording of the translations of the passages within the pages of the book. Upon playing them back, he resurrected the demons that possess the living. Ash, the sole survivor of the first film, again has to battle the demons that begin to take him – first with the possession of his hand leading to one of the best gags with a chainsaw in horror history. He also gets the help from the archaeologist’s daughter Annie, who arrives with an associate professor and two locals helping them find their way to the remote cabin.

    As the evil consumes them all, it’s up to Annie to translate the passages to send the evil back in time – but that’s going to require some serious demon battles with Ash who is armed only with a chainsaw and his wits making for one of the goofiest hero ever to hit the big screen.

    This movie hilarious, frightening, and demented at the same time! Young director Sam Raimi still used odd camera angle and quick editing as he did in The Evil Dead, but this time they are fine-tuned for perfection. I think it spawned some interest in the Necronomicon as well; I remember being disappointed finding out it was a fictional book by H.P Lovecraft, although die-hards believe it was based on forbidden knowledge of a mad Arab named Abdul Alhazred. You can pick up this book at any bookstore in the occult section. Whatever the story is behind the book, I love the way this movie was crafted from it and there never is a dull moment that’s for sure. It’s a title that you shouldn’t miss as it’s been a well-loved horror classic by all horror fans.


    [​IMG]VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Compared directly with the THX version in the collector’s tin released in 2000, the new DiviMax transfer that was supervised by Sam Raimi is a remarkable improvement! The most noticeable change is the lack of grittiness the plagued the previous release. On my 110” screen the differences are huge – and in no way am I exaggerating. Most of the grain is absent now giving the movie a much more three-dimensional presentation. I won’t say picture resolution has increased much, but edge enhancement has been toned down slightly. This can easily be seen when comparing the two editions during the flashback scene of the Knowbys driving up to the mountains. If you look at the edge of the mountain and the sky, there is enhancement on the previous release and is not as noticeable on this release.

    This new release also has more contrast. The blood-red laserdisc from Elite Entertainment as well as the 2000 Anchor Bay release both were low-contrast releases making it difficult to see anything in the darker parts of the picture. On a calibrated monitor, the image was extremely dim. Not so with this release. There have been some tweaks in this department for the better. The without sacrificing black level, details in darker parts of the picture can now be seen and it’s not so “dark”. The perfect example for your own reference is at the beginning of the film when Ash is playing the piano and Linda is twirling around.

    The colour of the whole film has also shifted from brown. When comparing the two one after the other, the 2000 Anchor Bay release looks brown in comparison, especially in the flesh. This new DiviMax transfer has more colour and more accurate flesh tones. Sure, there was some tweaking done to it, but it doesn’t look like it’s been exaggerated by any means. I believe all but the most finicky will love this new transfer. Is it worth the upgrade? ABSOLUTELY!

    Absent from the 2000 release is the full-frame version of the film. You’d have to be possessed to watch the full frame version anyways.


    [​IMG]AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    This is an average sounding soundtrack. It uses the same 5.1 remix as the 2000 release and they even sound very close in volume level. Originally a mono film, this is a good remix effort. Dialogue is in the center channels and the effects and music are spread out in the remaining four channels. There aren’t many discrete left-right surround sounds often, but they are there on occasion. Sometimes the LFE gets a quick workout, but aside from a few scenes when it’s demanded, it stays quiet the rest of the time. Sound effects and dynamic range are dated. But the 5.1 presentation does give this film life. It needs the 5.1 soundtrack as well. The movie is definitely worth the madness!!

    Absent is the original mono soundtrack and a DTS encoding. I thought for sure that this title would get DTS as well considering the original Book of the Dead got it. A Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack is included too.


    [​IMG]SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The special features on this DVD are almost the same as the 2000 release. The best feature of all is the DVD case itself – a fleshy Necronomicon with all-new illustrations inside, page after page, by special effects artist Tom Sullivan. It’s a great book and a DVD to be proud of by having it in your collection. It’ll look great on your shelf positioning it well in front of your other DVDs – and it’s even cool to look at over and over. Like the first Book of the Dead, I wish the pages inside weren’t so clean-cut. They are too perfect looking and it would have been great if the paper was less stiff and roughed up around the edges to give it an aged appearance. I could do that myself though, but then I’d feel terrible for ruining the pages! How weird is that??!!

    Appearing again is the hilarious audio commentary with writer/director Sam Raimi, co-star Bruce Campbell, co-writer Scott Spiegel and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero. This is the same commentary on the Elite laserdisc as well as the 2000 DVD. I don’t care if you aren’t the biggest fan of this movie (chances are you are!), but this is one hilarious commentary. Bruce Campbell steals the show of course and talks over everyone. They have a fun time talking about this film and you’ll have a great time listening to it.

    The Gore the Merrier featurette appears again giving lots of behind the scenes stuff for Raimi fans. New on this disc is the Evil Dead 2: Behind-the-Screams featurette, and it IS NOT the same 30 minute Behind the Screams featurette that appeared on the Elite laserdisc. Trust me – I checked! The Elite disc was just a bunch of behind the scenes footage put together in no real order and it had no narration. What I liked about it was that it showed several scenes that were cut out from the movie (but in behind the scenes footage way – not as filmed). This new featurette from Anchor Bay has special effects artist Tom Sullivan narrating through a collection of images of the “deadliest” special effects. At 17 minutes it’s worth a view and you’ll learn a little more about the special effects that you may have never known before.

    Lastly, there is the theatrical trailer, talent bios, and a still gallery. These were also included in the 2000 release, although the still gallery in this Book of the Dead 2 edition has fewer stills than the collector’s tin. It doesn’t have the 5x7 collector’s card and 30 page booklet either, so as a collector, you’ll have to search for your own tin!


    IN THE END…

    What an awesome movie! I can’t get enough of this title. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I was laughing my head off watching it. I can’t believe I used to think this movie was scary, but then, at 11 years old when I first watched it, I guess it probably was! For those of you who own the 2000 release I do recommend the upgrade to this release. Not only is the book ultra-cool to have (as it will probably sit beside your first Book of the Dead), but the picture quality improvement is a definite plus - especially on large screens. Even small screens will benefit from the improve contrast and colour. All I can say is THANK YOU ANCHOR BAY for providing such a groovy release of a possessing horror classic!!

    Michael Osadciw
    05.09.23
     
  2. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I have the Book of the Dead edition of Evil Dead and I will be picking up this new one for Evil Dead 2, but I hope to God it doesn't take as long for the STINK to leave this one as the first one![​IMG] I only have the very first bare bones release, so I don't feel that double dipping this one is out of line. Can't wait.
     
  3. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

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    I'm in.

    Groovy.
     
  4. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    nice review! Thanks!
     
  5. Rich Romero

    Rich Romero Supporting Actor

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    I'll be buying this.
     
  6. ChrisBEA

    ChrisBEA Screenwriter

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  7. Sebastien S

    Sebastien S Second Unit

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    I also have the "book of the dead" of the first movie and have already pre-ordered this one.
     
  8. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Anyone know anything about the 2-disc book of the dead 1 & 2 set yet?
     
  9. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I don't know for sure but it's probably just the two Book releases shrinkwrapped together.
     
  10. Josh Simpson

    Josh Simpson Supporting Actor

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    I'm definitely buying this, but does the disc still fit in the sleeve like the first one did? I ended up putting the disc in a seperate case so it wouldn't get as scratched.
     
  11. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    That's exactly what I'd like to know.
     
  12. Mike Wadkins

    Mike Wadkins Supporting Actor

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    still keeping my blood red laser and my other 5 copys on dvd lol [​IMG]

    any one know if the blood red (jelly pink) laser is rare ? it was when it came out is it now ?
     
  13. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I did the same thing, I did not like the sleeve that the DVD was stored in, I bought a double amaray and kept it with the Elite SE.
     
  14. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Hi guys

    The disc is in a sleeve like the first Book of the Dead, but it's not nearly as tight. This one slides out easier so you don't have to worry about scratching it.

    Jordan_E, I've had mine for almost a week now and it still stinks...(but I love it!)

    Mike
     
  15. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the review Michael. My thoughts on the transfer are on the exact same lines; the thing that hit me the most compared to the THX edition is that there's less grain without sacrificing detail - it looks sooo clean.

    It's a damn shame that the audio was not remixed into dts-es, but I have instead a got a latex book that screams if I poke it in the eye, so it aint all bad.


    I've done the same. And the THX edition of ED2 is worth keeping just for that fantastic cover art which this BOTD edition can now live in.
     
  16. Ricard Casselha

    Ricard Casselha Stunt Coordinator

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    Which is which? [​IMG]

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  17. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I wanted to add my two cents, as I finally got the chance to check out my copy (sorry for being so late, Michael :b).

    I completely agree with Michael regarding the new transfer. I always thought the original version looked good, but this was a revelation. The quality was significantly less graining with increased definition. The sharpness wasn't a result of artificial "enhancement" which maintains the transfers film-like appearance. Flesh-tones appear more accurate than before, and the overall color-scheme is a bit more lively. This is a big upgrade. If you're interested in better quality, definitely pick this one up.

    The audio track suffers in comparison, because the video was improved so greatly. It's not particularly bad, but it is the same DD track on the first DVD, so you're probably already familiar with it.

    While the extras are strong, I think they could have been greatly improved upon with a new documentary about the film (ala Fanalysis on the first BOTD release). The commentary is one of the best, but it's the same port from the original Elite Blood Red disc that appeared on the first DVD. I'm down for any commentary track that contains Bruce Campbell, especially when he's with Sam Raimi. As Michael pointed out, the big addition here is the new Behind-the-Screams featurette. It provided a look at events behind the scenes that I had never seen before, with an interesting narration by Tom Sullivan. It had been a while since I watched The Gore The Merrier featurette, and found it to be chalk full of neat stuff (especially the psuedo-short film from the effects guys at the end). Greg Nicotero does most of the talking and always has something interesting to say.

    As much as I hate double dips (especially Anchor Bay's whoring of the Halloween and Evil Dead catalogs), this is a must-buy. I'm a sucker for inventive packaging, and Anchor Bay seems to do it better than anyone else. The improved video transfer is reason enough to buy this new edition, and if you don't already own one of the previous releases you definitely need to track this one down. I can recommend this title to all horror fans, and say that I'm proud to have it in my collection sitting ominously next to the original Book of the Dead.


    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  18. James D S

    James D S Screenwriter

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    Glad to see that the video was much improved over the 2000 edition.

    Not trying to make it appear like that was going to stop me from completing the Book of the Dead set, but it makes me feel better just the same.

    Great review!
     
  19. Jussi Tarvainen

    Jussi Tarvainen Second Unit

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    Any luck with getting the smell out? I've been airing my copy for about a day now without much luck. IIRC, it was easier with the first BOTD.
     

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