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A sequel, DESPITE the first 7 minutes of the film distorting the continuity between the two movies; this has merely been provided as a re-cap. It is said that Sam Raimi had lost the rights to the first film and had to reshoot the begining in order to provide said re-cap so new footage was shot. The second film really begins when Ash is propelled into the air by the deadite forces as seen in the first film.
Technically he doesn't "Go back". As he had never left. As the question Is this film a remake or a sequel? explains, the first 7 minutes of the film are strictly there as a re-cap and the sequel officially starts when Ash gets attacked and propelled through the woods.Though in the DVD commentary, Bruce Campbell jokes "If any of you are wondering if Ash would be stupid enough to go back to that cabin; he is.".
On the Laserdisc commentary the film-makers remark on the audience reaction to that scene and Ash's ovbious ability to see the group coming through the door. Although it doesn't make sense, it is for precisely this reason that the audience relaxes at that moment, resulting in a bigger scare when the others rush into the cabin. The whole process is similar to the slow moving killer somehow covering more ground in less time than the much swifter victim they are pursuing. Alternatively they just move so fast Ash is not able to react in time, especially when he is shocked to see that they are human.
While at the beginning of the film, Ash is looking at the Necronomicon while listening to the tape recording, keep in mind as previously stated that this is all done for re-cap, As soon as Ash is attacked by the "invisible force" the movie begins, and if you watch the movie closely the book of the dead is never seen again, they only use the lost pages.The only true continuity error is the dead bodies of all the characters from the first movie aren't in puddles of goo around the cabin. But it could be said that once the book of the dead was destroyed, their bodies disappeared completely.
Strangely enough this movie was released in the UK in a slightly censored version only missing out some kicks against a head. These cuts were waived for the latest DVD releases - beware that the old BMG DVD is still cut. A detailed comparison with pictures can be found here.
The real-world reason is probably that when making Evil Dead II, director Sam Raimi did not have the rights to re-use footage from The Evil Dead (as Evil Dead II was produced by another company). So the first 7 minutes of Evil Dead II are effectively a short recap of the entire first movie, featuring Ash and Linda but none of the other friends, to speed things up. The Book of the Dead also looks quite different, and its destruction is missing. This may have been done on purpose, because the makers had developed new ideas for the sequel, forcing them to retcon (retroactively change) the original backstory. In any way, as soon as Ash goes outside and is attacked by the demonic force, the story continues from the first movie. A similar thing happened during production of Army of Darkness: the film was made by yet another production company, who wanted to make it as a stand-alone picture instead of an obvious sequel (the name 'Evil Dead' could not be used anyway due to copyright issues). The writers/director again used this opportunity to change the backstory, for the benefit of a more dramatic beginning of Army of Darkness. This explains why the opening scene of 'Army' is a reinterpretation of the final scene of Evil Dead II. Each of the Evil Dead movies has its own unique perspective, which explains most of the breaks in continuity. It has the added benefit that each movie in the series can be viewed apart, without having seen the other movies.From an in-movie perspective, we see at the end of the second sequel 'Army of Darkness' that the entire story is being told in flashback by Ash to a bored and disbelieving co-worker (played by Ted Rami) back at his S-Mart job. This sequence is included as the final scene of the original cinema version whilst the video/DVD/Blueray release ends with Ash awaking in a post-apocalyptic world but then has him returned to S-Mart in his own time after the end credits. Therefore we must assume the events we see in the last 2 films are based upon Ash's recollection which is likely to be far from perfect given his numerous head injuries, undoubted post traumatic stress disorder and the basic imperfections of human storytelling (simplifying the story, skipping over parts too complex to explain etc)
The German distributor BMV Medien put out a strongly limited release with a digipak that looks a lot like the famous book of evil. Apart from the boxing design, another specialty is that the Blu-ray features an Extended Cut that was made by BMV. It adds more than 2 minutes of footage that could be seen in the Deleted Scenes section of several available releases. A detailed comparison between the regular Theatrical Version and this Extended Cut with pictures can be seen here.
Promotional posters aren't bound to the rule that they must have something from the movie in them. Generally, film posters are there to catch your eye or help sum up the film by an image. The "Skull with eyes" gives the summary that the movie is a horror film, it involves death/the undead but is also humourous.
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