Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Ridiculous Moments In Horror 01: - Evil Dead 2 - The Possessed Hand


Ash Battles His Hand 

This segment is the first of what will be a continual stream of ridiculous horror moments sprinkled throughout this blog.  I'm starting with an easy one.  First, though, a little backstory. 

I’ve been fascinated with the spooky side of cinema for as long as I can remember.  The earliest horror movies I saw were from the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises, and as a youngster I took the movies seriously.  I was literally scared of Jason and Michael.  The slashers were at the tip top of all movies in my eyes, and nothing could surpass them.  At some point when I was about thirteen I bought a book at the local Blockbuster called Movie Psychos and Madmen.  It chronicled the history of villains in movies, and the reason I bought it was because it had a chapter on slashers.  I remember reading a passage from the book basically stating that the slasher movies were not to be taken seriously, because the killer is supernatural and therefore not as realistic as, say, Norman Bates from Psycho.  As much as I hate to use this word in the overly sensitive times we live in, I was offended.  Ridiculous, but true.  

I was offended because, at the time, I had not made a distinction between skillfully crafted movies (like the aforementioned Psycho, or The Exorcist) and the type of movies you watch just for the thrill of being scared.  Movies like Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street or the Halloween sequels.  I loved those movies, and in my pre-teen mind I took it as an unfair criticism to imply that I shouldn’t take them seriously.  

About a year later I stayed over at a friend’s house.  At the time we were going through a massive horror movie phase, searching out every movie in that section of the rental stores and watching them one after the other.  He had a movie called Evil Dead.  He owned it, and it was in a blank white case that gave no clue as to the contents of the videocassette inside.  He gave me the backstory about a guy who fights demons in a cabin in the woods, and how in part 2 he has to cut off his hand and replace it with a chainsaw.  Oddly enough I recognized what he was talking about.  My mother had rented a movie she thought I’d like called Army of Darkness months earlier.  I remember watching it and not quite understanding what I was seeing.  It was horror, sure, but it was also funny and a little bit weird.  I didn’t know how I felt about it, but it stayed in my mind for all that time afterward.  So I mentioned it.  My friend explained that Army was actually part 3 of this Evil Dead movie!  I decided I needed to watch it.

I did watch it.

I loved it.

It wasn’t until we rented Evil Dead 2, though, that I began to realize something.  As I watched the hero - Ash - beat himself silly with his own possessed hand, it all started to make sense.  This movie wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.  It had some spooky moments, but it was basically a slapstick comedy dressed as a horror film.  It really drove that point home when the severed hand flicks the bird at Ash before scurrying into a rathole (Check out the hand battle below, before and after it is dismembered).

After watching something like this it became clear to me that some movies, while artistic and creative, are meant to be taken lightly.  Certainly the Friday the 13th films fell into this category, and the A Nightmare on Elm Street sequels.  You don't exactly watch these movies to see Oscar-nominee performances, you watch them because they are fun.  They're eye candy.  If the whole realm of cinema were a theme park, these movies would be the roller coasters and the haunted mazes.  Though it took me a while I finally realized that wasn't a bad thing.

To this day Evil Dead 2 remains in my top five favorite horror movies.  It sets such a beautifully wonky atmosphere that keeps you questioning: Am I supposed to be afraid or am I supposed to laugh?  If you’re reading this as a horror fan you most likely know this movie all too well.  What was your first experience with the Evil Dead franchise?  Sound off below in the comments.