Evil Dead II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Risc. This transfer fell into the ďsilk purse/sowís earĒ category, as it represented the source material with reasonable fidelity but could only do so much with such messy footage.
Sharpness usually looked reasonably crisp and accurate, though some light softness occurred at times. For the most part, I thought the movie was adequately focused and detailed. Moirť effects and jagged edges posed no concerns, and edge enhancement appeared absent.
Print flaws were surprisingly minimal. At times the movie became rather grainy; the opening and closing scenes demonstrated an awful lot of that element. Otherwise, a few specks popped up on infrequent occasions, but the remainder of the flick was quite clean.
Colors were decent. The movie didnít go with a broad palette, but its bloody reds and pukey greens delivered acceptable clarity. Black levels looked a bit mushy to me and they lacked boldness or depth; there's a mildly tentative quality to the dark scenes.
Shadow detail often appeared a little heavy. I didn't have a terrible time making out the action in low-light shots, but since these kinds of scenes dominated the film, I had more trouble than I would have liked. Ultimately I found Dead II to present a perfectly watchable image but nothing better than that. Again, I blamed the original footage, as I thought the replicated that material with decent fidelity.
More substantial problems came with the PCM 5.1 soundtrack of Evil Dead II. Actually, some parts of it seemed positive, such as the breadth of the soundfield. The action spread nicely to the side channels, with a great deal of effects and music emanating from the front right and left speakers. This usage added a nice component of involvement to the mix, especially when we consider the extra kick boasted by the rears; the surround speakers presented solid ambiance and occasionally tossed out some good split-surround effects as well. The track lacked the smooth integration of true 5.1 mixes, but it worked nicely from a soundfield point of view.
Unfortunately, the quality of the audio was less than positive. Dialogue came across as thin and lifeless at best, and it became harsh and edgy at times. I understood most of the speech, but some lines were tough to comprehend due to the shrill and sibilant nature of the audio. Effects displayed some distortion as well, and they lacked much clarity. The music appeared thin but was largely free of the harshness that harmed the other aspects of the mix.
The track included some boomy bass that tended to overwhelm the action in an artificial manner. I got the impression the sound designers cranked up the low-end to distract us from the flatness of the other elements. Despite the fairly ambitious soundfield, I simply couldn't give this mix a higher rating than a "C-" due to the weak quality of the audio.
When we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary that comes from a 1998 laserdisc release of Dead II. It features actor Bruce Campbell, director Sam Raimi, co-writer Scott Spiegel, and special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero, all of whom were recorded together for a running, screen-specific chat. All four men provide roughly equal amounts of information. The commentary covers a mix of production issues. We hear a lot about low-budget filmmaking. The guys provide notes about makeup and effects, continuity problems, locations and sets, characters and the actors, and many bits of trivia.
Although the Dead II commentary is more fun than that of Army, it's probably less informative, which is often the case with multiple-participant tracks. Frequently these become loose and disorganized as the parties involved become more interested in laughing with each other than in providing compelling information about the movie. The Dead II commentary straddles those lines, and it generally seems amusing and useful, although at times it goes a little astray. Still, I enjoyed the commentary as a whole and found it pretty entertaining.
Film Fast Facts provides a subtitle commentary. It provides pop-up nuggets about cast, crew, effects, production elements, and trivia bits. These donít appear with great frequency, but they add some fun info.
Next up is The Gore the Merrier, a 31-minute and 50-second featurette about Dead II. It mainly discusses the technical details, and it does so in a terrifically compelling manner. The program features contemporary interviews with make-up effects artists Robert Kurtzman, Howard Berger, and Greg Nicotero; they essentially act as the piece's narrators. While we find some "talking head" shots of those gentlemen, the vast majority of the visual action comes from a slew of wonderful video footage taken from the set. We get a lot of great information from these images, and they single-handedly make this a fantastic documentary.
Another featurette called Evil Dead II: Behind-the-Screams goes for 17 minutes, seven seconds. Narrated by animator Tom Sullivan, it shows a variety of production photos. We get a nice array of images, and Sullivan throws in a lot of good details.
Some ads also pop up here. In addition to the trailer for Dead II, we find a general promo called ďUpcoming Blu-ray ReleasesĒ. It lasts less than a minute.
Although not my favorite of the three Evil Dead movies, Evil Dead II provides a fun romp. It mixes horror with campy silliness in a satisfying manner. The Blu-ray offers average visuals, erratic audio and some useful supplements. The Blu-ray isnít a killer package, but itís perfectly acceptable, and the movieís entertaining.
To rate this film visit the Book Of The Dead Limited Edition review of THE EVIL DEAD II