Evil Dead 2 includes similar characters and events to The Evil Dead, but the way they're used so differently has led fans to wonder if it counts as a sequel or a remake - and the answer is both. Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead introduced audiences to a new type of demonic possession and to one of the most beloved characters in the horror genre, serving as the beginning of a cult trilogy that has become a favorite among horror fans and filmmakers.
The Evil Dead followed a group of friends who go on vacation to an isolated cabin in the woods. Once there, they find an audiotape that releases demons and other evil spirits when played, leading to many members of the group being possessed. The film has spawned video games, a stage musical, and the TV series Ash vs Evil Dead, but none of this could have been possible without Evil Dead 2, which not only served as a sequel but also as a remake.
Evil Dead II, also known as Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, arrived six years after the first film, so a couple of things went through a retelling. The sequel opens with a recap of the events in The Evil Dead but with some changes: this time, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) doesn’t arrive to the cabin with his friends, but with his girlfriend, Linda, with the intention of having a romantic vacation. Ash plays a tape that recites passages from the Book of Dead (Necronomicon Ex-Mortis) and unleashes an evil force that possesses Linda, turning her into a deadite. Ash is forced to decapitate her and buries her in the woods. And that’s the “remake” part of the film.
The rest of the story was used to build the character of Ash Williams as audiences have come to know him: a brave, selfish, and incompetent hero who instead of solving problems only makes them bigger, or brings more to the mix. It’s also in Evil Dead 2 where Ash gets his characteristic chainsaw attached to his arm, as he has to cut his own hand off when it becomes possessed. Unlike in the first film, where Ash took the situation very seriously, here he has a more comedic reaction to everything, which adds up to the character’s essence.
Evil Dead 2 did something that not many films could get away with: retell part of the story from the first film, be a sequel, change the personality of the main character and expand on it, and still acknowledge the first film somehow. The Evil Dead will forever be the one that started it all, with the sequel being the one that made the rest of this universe possible.