Though it is now commonplace for different cuts of films to be released on home video, back in the 80s it was far rarer and usually the result of re-editing by foreign distributors. (Other prominent early examples of films existing in different versions include Blade Runner and Dawn Of The Dead.) The following text (written by James Flower & the webmaster), is a comprehensive breakdown of the only other version known to exist; the incredibly rare TV version. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy of this version should check out the Book Of The Dead II DVD page.
Evil Dead II: "Severely Edited For Television"
By the late 1980s, editing films for network television had become standard practice in Hollywood, and despite its status as an unrated gore film, Evil Dead II was to be no exception. Shortly after the film's theatrical release, the Renaissance Pictures team was invited by the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group to oversee the Evil Dead II television edit. Bruce Campbell, who at this time was so desperate for cash he had started working as a security guard, was especially happy to do so. However, the process of de-constructing such a tightly-paced horror rollercoaster - in effect, snipping out its more objectionable moments and replacing them with padding to fill out a required two-hour timeslot (ninety minutes excluding commercials) - proved a very odd one, as Bruce explained in his book If Chins Could Kill:
"Editing Evil Dead II for television was an absurd endeavour. The film, in its uncut state, races on through so much carnage and mayhem without so much as a second glance from my character and it all seems like a twisted Warner Bros. cartoon. Cutting the violence down, and lingering on my horrified expression, made the violence seem far more real and disturbing. Whatever the case, the film has never seen the light of network TV and most likely never will."
While the film has, unsurprisingly, never been broadcast on US network television to this day, the television edit of Evil Dead II did eventually wind up airing south of the border on Mexican television throughout the 1990s, under the title El Despertar Del Diablo: Part 2. In 2009 YouTube user 'drwhoreturns' uploaded most of the movie in eight 10min sections, Seemingly having been recorded from Canal 5 circa 1999, the image size was small, the quality poor, and it was dubbed into Latin American Spanish, but it was the previously unseen TV version non-the-less. Then in August 2016, a US fan emailed saying she was in contact with a fan in Mexico; Rogelio Matamoros, who had a VHS to DVD transfer of the TV version, recorded from Mexican TV during the 90's. A copy was traded for. The untouched TV version ran at 1h 30m 39s, and the 2000 R1 US Anchor Bay DVD ran at 1h 24m 18s. It is this that VHS transfer featured here. Assistance with translation of some of the Spanish-language dubbing was kindly provided by Brazilian reader Victor Benzi.
It should be stated before some people get their hopes up that this version does not restore the legendary 'Chop Top Evil Ed' sequence, or many of the other deleted scenes that fans have long-discussed since the film's release. Most of the additions are superfluous filler (and in some cases, simply repeats of cutaways from elsewhere in the film to further extend the running time). Nonetheless, while it will never replace the final cut us fans all know and love, as a 'mutant' alternate version nominally assembled and sanctioned by the Renaissance team it is definitely an interesting curio for all die-hard Evil Dead fans. Given Evil Dead II's ever-growing reputation as a cult classic, the rediscovery (at least outside Latin America) of these scenes is a small cause for triumph. Not only does it give new hope the other excised footage may be found in some form someday, but it also serves as a fresh testament to the strength of the original theatrical version, and Raimi's unerring knack for relentless pacing.
The following is a comprehensive run-down of all the exclusive footage and alterations made to the film within the television edit in comparison to the US theatrical version. The timecodes provided relate to the VHS transfer, running a total of 1h 30m 39s in length.
00:01:32:05 to 00:02:23:21 - The Opening Credits
The first extension to the film are a new set of opening credits for the main cast of the film, superimposed over plate shots of billowing smoke used elsewhere in the film, which then lead directly to the "EVIL DEAD II" title as in the theatrical version. Furthermore, these titles are obviously video opticals, immediately showing that the television version was edited on analogue video, rather than film.
00:02:33:12 to 00:02:37:15 - "Severely Edited For Television" Caption
A brief title superimposed after the opening title declares the film to be "Severely Edited For Television" - a humorous acknowledgement on the filmmakers' part on the challenges of having to re-edit Evil Dead II to such a significant degree.
00:03:51:24 to 00:04:59:27 - Ash & Linda Dancing
The first instance of reinstated deleted footage in this edit takes place just after Ash has given Linda the reflecting glass necklace. After Linda's line "I love it, Ash", the two kiss for much longer than in the theatrical version, followed by new footage of the two dancing together (with Linda dancing around Ash), climaxing with the two lovers in a passionate embrace and beginning to get frisky on the floor of the cabin. The scene then fades out (usually the signal for a commercial break in American television), then fades back up to an exterior shot of the cabin, which then cuts back to Ash and Linda kissing and talking ("I feel funny about being here. What if the people who own this place come home?") as in the theatrical cut. It is unknown whether the music that plays through much of this sequence was composed by Joseph LoDuca, or is stock library music intended to back up what is a largely redundant scene: in any case, it sounds suitably soap opera-ish.
00:07:48:23 to 00:07:51:18 - Trees Cutaways
As Ash exits the cabin to look for the now-missing Linda, what appears as one unbroken shot in the theatrical version is split into two by a cutaway to some very menacing (model) trees from Ash's point-of-view. These tree model shots are cut away to numerous times during the TV edit, again to pad out the running time. In one instance later on this over-reliance in fact leads to an egregious editing error. Just after the axe murder of Evil Ed, the TV edit not only cuts to some more tree shots (00:52:11:29 to 00:52:16:11), but also accidentally includes one second of Annie outside the cabin from the scene in the theatrical version where these cutaways have largely been lifted from (Jake leading Ash and Annie outside at gunpoint).
00:08:34:15 - Decapitating Linda
The decapitation of Linda is, unsurprisingly, the first casualty of the need to tone down the violence for network television. 14 frames are missing as the shovel takes off Linda's head, and the following shot of Linda's head flying towards camera (1 sec 15 frames) has also been cut.
00:08:56:24 to 00:10:42:02 - Burning The Book Of The Dead
The next reinstated deleted scene takes place just as Ash places down the cross-shaped grave marker where he has just buried Linda. In this new scene, Ash stumbles back to the cabin, sees the Book of the Dead on the floor and throws it into the fire. (This addition will either clarify or confuse further those who continue to argue the extent to which Evil Dead II serves as a remake of the first film.) Following an Evil Force POV from outside the cabin (these shots, like the evil trees ones, are frequently used throughout to extend the film's running time to 90 minutes), Ash has a brief moment where he cries out in anguish over the loss of Linda, followed by a scene outside where he hesitantly steps outside and begins to walk slowly into the woods. This is then immediately followed by the POV hurtling towards (as well as through) the cabin towards Ash, as in the theatrical.
00:11:18:07 to 00:11:28:14 - Ash Through The Trees
The shot of Ash hurtling through the trees as he is thrown around by the Evil Force has been extended by ten seconds in this version. Interestingly, the beginning and the end of these ten seconds seem to fit in exactly where a hidden cut is used in the theatrical, meaning that the TV edit appears to use the full, sped-up take of this shot.
00:14:54:24 to 00:15:30:28 - Escaping The Cabin
As Ash drives away from the cabin towards the dismantled bridge, a new scene appears in which Ash, whilst driving, grabs a box of cereal that happens to be lying in his car, and gulps down the contents in one. As he does so, however, he accidentally swallows the free toy inside the box and begins to choke on it. He manages to force it back up, looks at it disgustedly, then slams on the brakes as he spots the bridge ahead. It is unknown whether this version of the scene is the original take and the one that appears in the theatrical version is a re-shoot, or if the scene was shot again with this new gag especially for the television version.
00:18:24:21 to 00:18:27:23 - A Clock Cutaway
An extra cutaway to a tilted Dutch-angle shot of the clock hanging on the wall is inserted into the film just before the shot of Ash hiding in the cellar from the Evil Force.
00:19:52:01 to 00:20:20:22 - Ash Dreaming
After the scene in which we are introduced to Annie and Ed at the airport, an exterior shot of the cabin from the theatrical has been replaced by another Evil Force POV, following by a series of random, tilted cutaways of the cabin's interior, which then pan to Ash twitching in his sleep. Following another cut back to the Evil Force POV approaching the cabin, the TV edit then cuts back to Ash waking up and looking at the deer head, as in the theatrical.
00:21:47:24 to 00:22:05:20 - Piano Playing
During the scene where Ash finds the piano playing itself, there are some extra shots/angles of the piano and Ash's reaction, along with a shot of steam coming out of the top (specific shots which can also be seen in the Evil Dead II workprint version).
00:24:06:15 to 00:24:26:19 - Linda's Head Falls Off
In order to edit out the specific shot of Linda's head falling off, an earlier shot of Linda is repeated and digitally zoomed, cutting to the zoom-out of Ash awaking from his nightmare screaming.
00:24:46:04 to 00:25:09:24 - Bashing Linda's Head
A number of shots of Linda's head attached to Ash's hand have been edited out to tone down the impact of the sequence, including bashing the head against the walls and pounding it with a book. Ash bashing Linda's head into the tree outside while stumbling to the workshed is also trimmed.
00:25:32:27 to 00:27:02:11 - Extended Workshed Sequence
The workshed sequence is heavily re-edited & extended to remove the gorier elements. It plays as per the US version up to the point where Linda's headless corpse enters, which is replaced by a repeating force POV shot, then cuts back to Ash picking the chainsaw off the floor. There is an additional shot of Possessed Linda's head in the vice replacing Ash removing Linda's arm from the chainsaw, then continues as per the theatrical version, but cuts away as the blood splashes around. While the theatrical version finishes here, the TV version continues afterwards, showing Ash flipping out and throwing himself around the bright red workshed, then fades to black.
00:27:25:00 to 00:29:49:14 - Re-Entering The Cabin
The entire sequence from ash re-entering the cabin, upto touching the possessed chair is much longer. From the rear door to picking up the shotgun is a similar but different longer take. Ash enters the main room and the camera pans around before the chair moves itself, and there is an extra set of shots showing the chair moving and Ash's approach.
00:36:02:28 - Ash Amputates His Hand
Unsurprisingly, Ash's severing his possessed hand with a chainsaw has been edited for television audiences as well. The spurt of blood as Ash pins his hand to the floor with the dagger (3 secs 15 frames) has been removed, cutting straight to Ash's pained face as he first says one of the film's signature lines, "Who's laughing now?" Once he has taken the chainsaw to his hand, the subsequent spraying of blood all over Ash's face (8 secs 17 frames) has been deleted, with the accompanying audio instead laid over another exterior shot of the cabin, and the shot of the moon in the night sky from the theatrical cut.
00:37:42:12 to 00:37:44:15 - A Deer Head Cutaway
As Ash's severed hand escapes and Ash starts looking for it, another cutaway to the (still currently inanimate) deer head on the wall has been inserted for padding before Ash grabs his gun.
00:39:21:03 - The Blood Flood
Though it is a rather innocuous scene compared to the violence in the rest of the film, the ‘Blood Flood' sequence has been heavily trimmed in the TV edit, losing 14 seconds in total.
00:40:13:05 to 00:41:16:12 - The Laughing Room
The scene in which Ash seems to go mad as various props from around the cabin laugh hysterically at him has been notably extended, with numerous new shots of books, lamps and even the Kandarian dagger itself laughing at Ash (as well as a phony owl puppet that pops up in the foreground at one point). One amusing reinstated gag involves Ash stopping his hysterical laughter, seemingly exhausted, to wipe a tear from his eye - before screaming with laughter again.
00:43:23:03 - Jake Kicks Ash
The one-second shot of an unconscious Ash being kicked in the face has been replaced by an extension to the end of the previous shot of Jake. This substitution may be of particular interest to those who remember the BBFC edit to this scene for the original 1987 UK release, where the shot of Ash being kicked was cut and the sound laid onto the following shot of Annie.
00:46:33:11 to 00:48:24:18 - Henrietta Attacks
Henrietta's first attack on the group has been altered in the following ways compared to the theatrical version:
Three shots of Jake trying to unlock the padlock on the cellar door as Ash tries to escape have been cut, presumably to tone down the intensity of the scene.
Two shots of Henrietta (now in ‘Pee Wee Head' form) grabbing Ash's shoe and trying to pull Ash back down have also been cut.
18 frames have been cut from the end of the shot in which Henrietta's flying eyeball lands in Bobbie Jo's mouth.
Another new piece of footage: After Jake and Ash have successfully got Henrietta back in the cellar, a new shot (00:48:03:00 to 00:48:24:18) takes in the entire group, as Annie attempts to wake up Ed (who is knocked out after being thrown against the wall by Henrietta) and Bobbie Jo gags violently after having spit out the eyeball. The camera pans down to the tape recorder, which is still playing, as Professor Knowby has a few additional lines of dialogue roughly translated as "Whatever I have awakened with this book.. will certainly come for us..."
00:50:59:10 to 00:51:05:16 - Evil Ed Attacks/Jake's Anger
The shot where Evil Ed bites off and swallows a chunk of Bobbie Jo's hair has been cut out entirely (apparently hair-munching was too extreme for your average 1980s American television audience). In its place, a new shot has been placed, where Bobbie Jo faints post-Ed attack, and the camera dollies up to a close-up of Jake, whose facial expression changes from total terror to furious anger. This then links up with the shot with the theatrical version of Jake behind Evil Ed, about to attack ("Son of a bitch!").
00:51:31:21 - The Death Of Evil Ed
The axing of Evil Ed has been significantly edited for television here. First 1 sec 16 frames are missing as Ash chops Ed to the ground, then shortly afterwards a full 14 sec 11 frame chunk of footage where Ash finishes off Evil Ed has been dispensed. Much of the audio from this section (including the Deadites' cry "We live! We live still!") has instead been laid over the following shot of Jake, Bobbie Jo, Annie and Ash looking down at Ed's remains.
00:55:27:12 to 00:56:15:28 - Searching The Bedroom
The opening shot of Ash and Annie entering the bedroom before Knowby's ghost appears has been replaced by an alternate longer take that then cuts to a slow, tense pan around the bedroom. This latter shot is a substitution for the two-second static shot in the theatrical cut that was also used as the plate for the ‘Knowby's ghost' shots.
00:58:30:14 to 00:58:44:00 - Bobbie Jo Runs Through The Woods
Two extra shots of Bobbie Jo running screaming through the woods, running eleven seconds in total, have been reinstated.
00:59:48:11 to 01:00:00:23 - Bobbie Jo's Vine Attack
A new shot has been added of the vines dragging Bobbie Jo to her death, that pans along following them for around twelve seconds - it certainly looks painful for the poor stuntwoman doing the shot!
01:02:17:23 to 01:02:25:21 - Extended Dialogue Between Ash & Jake
After Jake turns the gun on Ash and Annie, two extra shots with additional dialogue have been placed between where Jake says "Once we find her we're getting the hell out of here" and Ash shouts "No, you idiot!" in the theatrical version. The Spanish Language dubbing roughly translates to: Ash: "If you want to go and find her, go ahead", Jake: "No, you come with me. I will not go out alone".
01:05:25:06 to 01:05:29:29 - Possessed Ash Attacks
When Jake's head smashes into a tree after being thrown into it by Possessed Ash, there is an additional shot of Jake landing on the ground, the half-broken remains of the tree beside him (though the state of the tree does not seem to match what it was a second earlier when Jake hit it?). This is followed by another new shot of Possessed Ash, backlit in lurid red, turning towards camera and heading towards the cabin.
01:06:55:29 to 01:07:43:16 - Ash Eats A Squirrel
This is perhaps the deleted scene reinstated in the television cut fans will already be most familiar with, due to its presence (as captured in Greg Nicotero's behind-the-scenes camcorder footage) in the DVD featurette The Gore The Merrier: The Making Of Evil Dead II. After Annie grabs the Kandarian dagger to defend herself, there is some extended footage of her exploring around the cabin (including a new POV of her looking through a crawl space), before she comes to a window and looks outside. There she sees Possessed Ash in the distance, who grabs a squirrel off the ground and bites its head off, before wandering out of her (and our) view again. After this the camera pans to the door, which then matches with the theatrical cut (the shot starts with a cut after the pan there) as the doorknob starts to turn.
01:07:58:22 - Jake Is Stabbed/Ash Attacks
As Annie stabs Jake with the dagger, the first two seconds of the dagger entering Jake's chest has been cut: the TV edit resumes with the dagger already in, slightly reducing the impact of the scene. As Ash attacks and Annie desperately tries to shut the door, the two instances where she accidentally shuts the door on Jake have been cut out (totalling around 6 secs), effectively leaving the TV edit with a scene where Annie gets Jake out of the way and shuts the door in one attempt.
01:08:47:08 to 01:08:59:07 - Annie Screams Against The Door
As Possessed Ash tries to get in, a new shot has been added with Annie screaming against the door for longer than in the theatrical cut, as well as a couple of extra shots of Ash battering his fists against the door from outside.
01:09:41:27 - Possessed Ash In The Woods/Annie & Jake In The Hallway
In addition to the above scene of Jake's pain and suffering after being stabbed, the following scene where Annie shouts at Jake as she tries to drag him to the front room (which caused the filmmakers particular delight during the recording of the film's commentary) has been considerably edited down. The ‘toning down' of this sequence is partly achieved by the insertion of another new shot of Possessed Ash wandering around outside through the window to cover for the edit.
01:10:27:03 to 01:10:54:23 - A Bloodless Version Of Jake's Death
While most of the violence edits in this version of Evil Dead II have utilised cutaways to substitute the violent footage, this scene of the film uses an entire alternate take where, instead of the geyser of blood that showers out of the cellar while Henrietta is dragging Jake inside, a nearly bloodless variant is used instead, followed by a new shot of Annie screaming as she looks at the blood on her hands. It is tempting to speculate that, since the small amount of blood in this version matches the blood on Annie's shirt more closely (as opposed to the blatant continuity error in the theatrical cut!), that this is an original version of the scene subsequently replaced by a bloodier reshoot, rather than an alternate take shot specifically with a television version in mind.
01:11:41:03 to 01:12:13:06 - Possessed Ash's Memories
Halfway through the shot Possessed Ash looks at Linda's necklace and begins to regain his humanity, the television version crudely inserts (via an extremely corny dissolve) a flashback to Linda dancing as Ash plays piano and the couple kissing from earlier in the film. It may be very likely that the opening shot from this scene (Linda silhouetted against the curtains from outside) was shot exclusively for the television version given the hastily-assembled, blackened-out set decoration doubling for the outside of the cabin. This flashback, the most absurd example of gratuitous padding in this edit, oddly brings this version of Evil Dead II closer to feeling like it has been ‘re-styled' for television due to its rather soap-opera-style presentation.
01:16:04:14 to 01:17:21:28 - Searching The Cellar
As Ash goes down into the cellar, the TV edit starts with a large amount of new footage, beginning with a shot from Ash's POV of the other side of the cellar. Then the film cuts to a long shot that starts with Ash, before panning very slowly around the cellar until settling on another page from the Book on the floor, which Ash walks up and picks up, finishing on a close-up of his face. This lengthy shot, while a good showcase for Philip Duffin's production design and obviously intended to be a tense callback to a similar pan-around-the-cellar in the first Evil Dead, instead comes off here as interminable, and Sam was right to cut it in the first place.
01:18:47:14 - Ash Searches The Boiler Room
The scene in which Ash explores the boiler room, all shots involving Jake's skeleton have been cut out completely (totalling around 12 secs 13 frames). In their place, after Ash throws back the curtain and sees the boiler, the TV edit cuts back to Annie, who has a new line of dialogue which roughly translates as "You found them?", before cutting back to Ash holding up the final missing page.
01:21:52:19 - Henrietta's Final Attack
It should be of little surprise that the climactic showdown between Ash and Henrietta suffered some edits in this version: indeed, Ted Raimi's horrific gore-soaked make-up is reason enough why the film will probably never air on US network television even in this relatively sanitised version. Among the casualties are:
1 sec 13 frames of Henrietta's arm flying through the air, as well as the accompanying chainsaw action from Ash.
1 sec 15 frames of Henrietta's head being severed, as well as the subsequent heroic slow-motion shot of Ash, cutting instead straight to the head flying through the air.
2 secs 14 frames have been cut from the beginning of the shot where Henrietta's decapitated body makes the sound of a deflating balloon before falling to the ground.
01:24:40:14 - Annie Stabbed In The Back
As Annie reads the incantations from the missing pages, 7 secs have been cut from the shot where she reacts to having been stabbed in the back by Ash's severed hand, and turns to reveal it. In its place is a brief extra cutaway to the anamorphically distorted ‘Rotten Apple Head' demon (01:24:40:14 to 01:24:42:08).
01:25:48:12 to 01:25:51:12 - Ash In The Clutches Of Rotten Apple Head
A three-second shot of Ash letting out a battle cry as he revs up the chainsaw has been removed entirely, and the subsequent shot of him stabbing the Rotten Apple Head in the eye has been cut short by 1 sec 10 frames to reduce the amount of blue blood shown jetting out of the demon's eye. In the place of the first second is an alternate angle of Ash struggling in the demon's grip, seemingly shot from inside the monster's mouth (01:14:46:15 to 01:14:49:15).
01:27:18:11 to 01:28:13:11 - The Time Vortex
As Ash hurtles through the vortex before landing in medieval times, his journey through time is signified by an elaborate, rapidly-edited montage of split-second images. There are nearly 200 images in total. It begins with a set of photos obviously very personal to the Renaissance team, before giving way to a mash-up of famous classical paintings (Van Gogh, Da Vinci, etc), old newspaper headlines (Britain declaring war on Germany, death of Mark Twain), stock photos of the industrial era, 1960s car advertisements, and even a still image of the band Talking Heads! Among the earlier photos are:
Raimi, Tapert and Campbell with their dates at the 1981 Book Of The Dead premiere
A photo of Palace co-founder Stephen Wooley with Ted Raimi and Robert Tapert
The front and back cover of the original British VHS of The Evil Dead
Still photos from the Super-8 shorts It's Murder! and The Happy Valley Kid
The logo for Camp Tamakwa, the summer camp Sam Raimi attended as a child
Stills from The Three Stooges and Raimi's favourite film, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre
A phony newspaper headline ("Hero Executed... Almost!") from the end of Crimewave
01:30:14:06 to 01:30:19:27 - "Severely Edited For Television" Caption
As if the audience hadn't realised it for the previous 90-odd minutes, the end of the film's final shot is held in freeze-frame for seven seconds with the words "Severely Edited For Television" again amusingly superimposed on top.
As the VHS transfer ends prematurely, it is currently unknown as to whether the credits have been altered in the television edit. This may be likely since the main cast's names were already given in the new opening credits.
Book Of The Dead Part II DVD
In August 2016, once a decent quality VHS transfer of the TV version of Evil Dead II was sourced, a follow-up to the fanmade 2012 Book Of The Dead Fanmade DVD was made. Along with much of the rarest Evil Dead II video material personally owned, a composite Evil Dead II Theatrical & TV version was created. You can read more about this fanmade DVD release on the Book Of The Dead Part II DVD page.