Greatest Movie Series
Franchises of All Time
The "Evil Dead" Films

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)

Evil Dead Films
The Evil Dead (1981) | Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987) | Army of Darkness (1993)

The "Evil Dead" Films - Part 2

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn (1987)
(aka Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn)

d. Sam Raimi, 85 minutes

See also Evil Dead II.

Film Plot Summary

Director Sam Raimi's gruesomely funny horror film sequel (and/or remake) was a well-done horror parody with an intense kinetic tone and quick edits, including incredible special effects such as stop-motion animation, reverse motion, and lengthy tracking shots.

The film's opening sequence presented a modified or alternative recap of the previous film in which Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) arrived at a remote Tennessee cabin. Unfortunately, he happened to find a reel-to-reel tape-recording made by the cabin's owner, archaeologist Prof. Raymond Knowby (John Peakes) about his translation of "The Book of the Dead" ("Necronomicon Ex Mortis"). He played the tape that recited one of the book's passages, thereby awakening evil, demonic forces in the woods and infecting Linda. She was taken outside through a broken bedroom window, where Ash decided to end her torment as a "deadite" and to save himself by decapitating her - he neatly sliced her head off at the neck with a shovel and then buried her headless body.

Ash was also temporarily possessed by the demonic spiritual forces in the wooded forest until dawn broke, when his body was picked up, carried and swept through the wooded area and dumped into a large puddle. In an attempt to drive off and escape in his Oldsmobile, he discovered that he was entrapped at the cabin due to a destroyed bridge. As darkness descended and clouds covered the sun, he was pursued in his speeding car back through the woods to the cabin where he crashed, and his body was hurled through the windshield into a tree. When he revived, he raced on foot through the woods toward his cabin, entered and tried to escape through multiple doors and hallways from the evil forces before hiding under a trap door. The demonic power retreated momentarily.

Once he revived, Ash thought he had vanquished Linda, but that night, both her head and naked headless body came to life in a reanimated state. After rising up from her grave, her head was joined to her body and she performed a brief danse macabre for him before attacking him through a window. Ash woke up in a rocking chair and believed that he was dreaming. However, Linda's separated head fell into his lap where it bit his right hand, and he struggled to disattach her grip on him. He ran to a nearby workshed and pried her head off in a vise. She was joined by her headless body and again assaulted him with a chainsaw. Lacking a head with eyes, the corpse bloodily and clumsily sawed into itself. Ash grabbed the chain saw and cut into Linda's head in the vise, spraying the room with blood.

Back inside the cabin, Ash swapped the chain saw for a loaded shotgun (boomstick) and noticed an invisible creature moving in the rocking chair. In a startling, hallucinatory Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like sequence, Ash stood in front of a mirror where his reflection suddenly reached out with his infected right hand, grabbed him, and maniacally said: "We just cut up our girlfriend with a chainsaw. Does that sound fine?" Then the reflection grabbed him by the throat and began choking him, and he realized he was only strangling himself. When his own possessed right hand threateningly grabbed his face - he was angered: "You dirty bastards! Give me back my hand!"

As the gruesomely hysterical fight between Ash and his own possessed, tormenting attacking hand continued - it bashed him over the head with plates, grabbed his hair, smashed his face into the kitchen sink, punched him, and tried to beat him up in a schizophrenic frenzy. It dragged his unconscious body across the floor to try and grab a meat cleaver and inflict self-harm. To stop his uncontrollable body part, Ash pinned his hand to the floor with another knife and laughed spitefully at the evil body part: "That's right. Who's laughing now? Who's laughing now?" However, his severed hand kept assaulting him. In the gory scene, he was forced to grab his chainsaw with his left hand, and to saw off his own demonic, evil hand (before it infected his entire body), spattering his face with blood.

The lobbed-off hand began flopping around and re-attacked. To contain it, Ash covered up his decapitated hand with a bucket, weighted down with books [Note: the top-most book was A Farewell to Arms]. After the hand escaped into a mouse hole, Ash attempted to blast it with his shotgun through the wall. In defiance, it flipped him the 'middle finger." When he thought he had killed it for good: "Got ya, didn't I, ya little sucker!" - he was sprayed directly in the face with a torrent of blood from multiple holes in the wall. Many of the objects in the living room then began laughing at him - the mounted deer head, a lamp, the books in a bookcase cabinet, the wall clock, and various wall hangings, etc. and he hysterically joined in.

Meanwhile, other additional characters prepared to arrive at the Knowby cabin - Annie Knowby (Sarah Berry), daughter of Prof. Knowby, and her blonde handsome boyfriend Ed Getley (Richard Domeier). She was bringing her father's missing pages from the Book of the Dead. For a $100 fee, the two were led to the cabin on an obscure trail (since the bridge was twisted and mangled) by a local redneck named Jake (Dan Hicks) and his girlfriend Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley).

Ash fired at the front door and then approached cautiously and opened it, believing that the evil forces were possibly on the other side. Suddenly, Jake burst through the entryway and tackled Ash to the floor. Ed joined him to restrain Ash and knock him out. Annie entered and worried: "Oh my God, where are my parents?" She saw the bloodied chainsaw on the floor, and suspected that Ash might have killed her father Knowby and his wife Henrietta. To protect themselves, Ash was thrown down a trap door and imprisoned in the fruit cellar.

Annie listened to more of the Professor's tape recording which divulged that his wife Henrietta (Lou Hancock) had become a demonic deadite that he had to destroy (but not dismember) and bury in the cellar: ("I fear that my wife has become host to a Candarian Demon. May God forgive me for what I have unleashed unto this earth. Last night Henrietta tried to kill me....Henrietta is dead. I could not bring myself to dismember her corpse. But I dragged her down the steps and I buried her. I buried her in the cellar").

Henrietta came to life in the cellar and horrifically confronted and attacked Ash face-to-face. After he begged: "Let me out! There's something down here!", he was released from the locked fruit cellar. While imprisoning Henrietta away underground, both Jake and Ed were grabbed by the face - Ed was thrown into a wall and knocked out, and Henrietta's dislodged eyeball was propelled in the air into Bobby Joe's mouth.

Ash explained to everyone: "There's something out there. That, that witch in the cellar is only part of it. It lives out in those woods, in the dark, something, something that's come back from the dead." He urged everyone to wait until daylight to escape. The deadite Henrietta (taking the form of Annie's mother) begged and tempted Annie to be released from the cellar by singing a familiar lullaby from her childhood, but she refused.

Fighting back, Henrietta possessed Ed who levitated and chanted: "Dead by Dawn" and then grabbed Jake and temporarily knocked him out. To prevent any further harm, Ash was able to hack and dismember Ed with an axe, producing gobs of green slime. As the evil forces threatened the cabin, the Professor's ghostly disembodied head appeared and warned Ash and Annie how to defeat them, by reciting from the pages of the book Annie had brought: "There is a dark spirit here that wants to destroy you. Your salvation lies there. In the pages of the book. Recite the passages. Dispel the evil. Save my soul. And your own lives!"

After Ash's dismembered hand took Bobby Joe's hand, she became so panic-stricken that she fled outside where she was assaulted, tied up by branches, and dragged to her death by possessed demon trees.

Annie and Ash looked at the pages from the book that she had brought. Two passages revealed that in 1300 AD, it was prophesied that a "hero from the sky" would come and destroy the Evil" - a foretelling of the film's ending.

During a futile search for Bobby Joe in the woods, Ash became possessed and attacked Jake, and then threatened Annie back in the cabin. She grabbed a large bone dagger and accidentally stabbed Jake when she mistook him for the evil Ash demon attempting to enter the cabin. Henrietta dragged Jake's body down into the cellar trap door to bloodily finish him off, creating a torrent of blood. Ash entered and tossed Annie against a wall, rendering her unconscious. After being reminded of Linda by Annie's necklace ripped from her neck, he reverted to his normal self.

All of the characters were now dead except for Ash and Annie, who began to cooperate together to defeat the evil forces. In the film's denouement, Ash clamped the chainsaw to his severed right wrist and twirled a sawed-off shotgun into his backside-holster (and then exclaimed: "Groovy!"). With Annie's help, Ash sawed into the fruit cellar's trap door, and was able to retrieve the pages from the Necronomicon in the cellar, and toss them up to Annie.

The demonic, monstrous Henrietta emerged and attacked both of them, before Ash (with Annie's assistance to distract the demon) was able to dismember and then decapitate the long-necked creature and ultimately destroy her with a shotgun blast to the head (Ash: "Swallow this!").

With little time left before the forest demons destroyed the house, Annie had only recited the first of two passages from the Book of the Dead to disperse the evil spirits through a rift-portal. As Annie was finishing chanting the second incantation to send away the evil deadite demons, she was lethally stabbed in the back by Ash's severed and possessed hand wielding the bone dagger.

Annie's incantations of the passages from the Necronomicon were designed to create a rift in time and space to suck up all the dark forces. Ash congratulated her: "You did it, kid" as she completed the recitation, but expired. The reading triggered the opening of a whirling, spinning portal or rift that sucked Ash in (with all of the evil forces) and propelled him along with his '88 Oldsmobile and other objects, into a time-travel journey to the Middle-Ages, ca 1300s, the time of the Book of the Dead.

Ash was surrounded by medieval knights in armor (Crusaders) on horseback. They believed that Ash was a fearsome, harpy-like deadite, but when he blasted the head of a real flying deadite with his boomstick-shotgun, he was worshipped as a liberating hero and savior by all of the knights and its leader (director Sam Raimi): "Hail, he who has come from the sky to deliver us from the terrors of the deadites. Hail! Hail!...", although he was horrified and repeatedly screamed: "Nooo!" as the camera pulled back and the screen turned to black for the closing credits.

Film Notables (Awards, Facts, etc.)

With a production budget of $3.5 million, and box-office gross receipts of almost $6 million.

The Book of the Dead ("Necronomicon Ex Mortis")

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell)

Possessed Linda (Denise Bixler)

Schizophrenic Ash (Bruce Campbell)

Zombified Ash (Bruce Campbell)

Annie Knowby (Sarah Berry)

Ed Getley (Richard Domeier)

Jake (Dan Hicks)

Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley)

Possessed Henrietta (Lou Hancock)

Sucked into Time-Travel Portal

'88 Oldsmobile and Ash Landing in 1300 AD

Ash Shooting at Flying Deadite With Shotgun

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