With the release of a 4K digital restoration of the classic The Godfather Part II (1974), TIFF is putting on a great program as well. Second Coming: Cinema’s Greatest Sequels is exactly that, a look at some ground-breaking films and the even better sequels that followed them. While sequelitis can be a terrible Hollywood affliction, with no known cure for each successive Transformers mutation, sometimes those Part 2s turn out to be pretty awesome in their own right. Join me on the flipside, as the sequel strikes back.
Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead (1981) is a subversive take on the teens encounter terror in the woods flick, with minimal plot and maximal shock. While the original plays it straight(ish), with five teens unleashing terrible evil and meeting a gruesome demise, the sequel adds an extra twist: humour. Evil Dead 2 (1987) puts the grand in guignol in a big way, raising the gore factor to hyperbolically hilarious levels. Bruce Campbell reprises his role as hardware store clerk Ash, but carries the movie single-handedly (quite literally) with his elastic mugging and a jury-rigged chainsaw fist. Raimi catches Lovecraftian lightning in a bottle as the evil spirits torment Ash and the strangers who join him in the mysterious cabin, but it’s the movie’s Three Stooges-style slapstick that elevates it to true cult classic. Watching Ash at war with his demonically possessed hand is brilliantly deranged horror comedy, and it set the stage for many a Midnight Madness movie that followed.
Evil Dead screens at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto today, Saturday, August 9th, at 9:45pm. Evil Dead 2 runs a week later, on Saturday, August 16th, at 9:45pm. The rest of the program of originals and their sequels makes for a diverse and exciting roster, including the two James Whale black-and-white horror classics Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), the magnificent Akira Kurosawa samurai movies Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962), and Tim Burton’s dark-edged contributions to the Batverse, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). For a complete listing of the films making up Second Coming: Cinema’s Greatest Sequels, see here.