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Evil Dead 2
by yo go re

When McFarlane released his Ash in Movie Maniacs 3, a lot of fans still hadn't gotten over the "let's desperately invent minor variants" thing that had gripped the fandom for a few years, so people tried to claim that the specific position of Ash's shirt over his chest made a difference: "Nipple Ash" vs. "Clean Ash." Yeah, it was as stupid as it sounds. Anyway, you have to wonder if those folks are still trying to make that kind of distinction with Henrietta, here.

And now I fear that my wife has become host... to a Candarian demon. May god forgive me for what I have unleashed unto this earth. Last night, Henrietta tried to... kill me. It's now October 1, 4:33 pm. Henrietta is dead. I could not bring myself to dismember her corpse, but I dragged her down the steps... and I buried her. I buried her in the cellar. God help me, I buried her... in the earthen floor of the fruit cellar!

That bio isn't on the package anywhere - it's a monologue delivered (via reel-to-reel tape recorder) by Professort Raymond Knowby in Evil Dead 2, but it so succinctly summarizes what this figure represents that it was too perfect to pass up.

Henrietta was played in the film by Lou Rawls. Wait, that can't be right. Lou Hancock. Yeah, that's better. Henrietta was played in the film by Lou Hancock. And yet this toy looks nothing like her, because she only played "normal" Henrietta, not "possessed" Henrietta. Who was inside the suit, then? It was Ted Raimi! At last, a base to start your Xena Joxer custom!

Since this figure technically represents a man, maybe that's how NECA was able to get away with showing the character's bare breasts right there in the packaging. Henrietta is wearing the tattered remains of the blue dress she was buried in, but it's decayed even faster than her flesh, and is no little more than a short shawl. There's a ring of sculpted cloth around her neck and another clinging to her right elbow, but that's it. Everything else? As naked as Rick Perry's ambition.

The original concept for Henrietta was a typical EC Comics type corpse: skinny, bony, and with chunks of the flesh falling away. And while that's a good type of design (heck, they used a similar thing for Linda, when she came back to visit Ash in the work shed), it would have required a lot of rod puppetry, which wasn't ideal for the amount of action Henrietta would be involved in. Plus, Ted Raimi was a fairly muscular guy, so there was no way to make him look skinnier using makeup. It was effects artist Mark Shostrom who suggested making Henrietta (as Jame Gumb said) "a great big fat person." Instead of a desiccated skeleton, she's bloated with gasses that are trying to escape.

Jason Frailey sculpted this figure, and he did a great job re-creating Shostrom's design. The skin is distended and wrinkled, and looks in many places like it's disconnected from the meat of the body beneath. It looks as though, if this were somehow to come to life, she'd be very jiggly and wobbly as she moved. It's hideous, truly hideous. If you really get up close and compare the sculpt to shots of the "hero" suit (ie, the one given the most detail and used for close-ups in the film) there are some definite, noticeable differences, but the overall feel of the body is there.

Some of the differences in the sculpt have undeniably been made for the better. In one scene in the movie, Henrietta flies into the air and begins spinning in circles. During this scene, you can see that the costume has split open, revealing Ted Raimi's tiny butt within. Now, we don't know who first noticed this problem, but if you're watching Evil Dead 2 and you're staring at Henrietta's ass, you have problems. Anyway, NECA didn't gloss over this flaw, they embraced it: instead of seling up the suit the way it was meant to be, they left the split there; they then filled the gap with details to suggest rotting flesh, matching several other holes in the suit. That is a brilliant solution, and Jason or whoever came up with it deserves commendation.

When McFarlane made a Deadite (in the form of Army of Darkness's Pit Witch), she was almost entirely immobile. Henrietta, on the other wand, moves just as well as NECA's Ash figures. She has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge knees and balljointed ankles. All the joints work very well, and in the case of the hips, are particularly well-designed: the balljoint is actually set quite far down into the thigh, so there's a lot of material still attached to the torso; the same "meaty" texture seen in the butt is here, too, so even in extreme poses she still looks organic. There's even a hole all the way through the right hip, allowing you to see in the sculpted interior as you move it around.

Henrietta is a heavy figure, but she can still stand on her own. If you don't want her to, she comes with a rectangular base that has a long rod with a bend near the tip. It can plug into her back and allow her to fly! When her torso is aligned, her dress covers the hole in her back; but when she's twisted to the side so you can plug in the bar, it instantly gives her a more dynamic pose! Nice.

The figure doesn't come with any accessories, but she does include a second head. Like many Deadites, she got uglier as time went on - in Henrietta's case, that meant a long, snake-like neck and an exaggerated, skeletal face with huge cheekbones and extruding teeth. It even has a tuft of real hair on top! Fun fact: on the set, they called this "the Pee-Wee head," and it used the same wig as the other Henrietta suit. And when it was eventually blown up, it was filled with tomato stew, bananas and cottage cheese. Gross! The neck on this one is bendy, so you can pose her menacing Ash however you want. Swapping the heads is easy, thanks to the large balljoint.

Henrietta may not be the first Deadite toy ever made, but she's certainly the best, and you don't have to rebuy Ash in a two-pack to get her.

-- 10/14/12

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