Army of Darkness

Ash is back!

What more needs to be said? We all know what to expect, us horror movie nuts have all seen “Evil Dead”, “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness”. If you have not seen all three of the movies in the “Evil Dead” trilogy then you better think twice before thinking you are an avid horror movie fan.

We pretty much know what to expect with “Army of Darkness,” the third movie in the trilogy with our protagonist Ash (Bruce Campbell) chasing after his undead friends. In a lot of ways, “Army of Darkness” is a lot like the first two movies in the series, except the fact it is way more slap-stick. All three films were written/directed by Sam Raimi, except this time Ivan Raimi, Sam’s brother helped write “Army of Darkness” and they added more comedy. “Army of Darkness” is goofy, nonsensical, is full of satire and just plain fun. There is a heck of a lot less gore, but a ton more fun.

So why is it called “Army of Darkness” and not “Evil Dead III”? Well the main reason, is that Universal studios wanted the film to stand out alone from the other Evil Dead movies and attempt to branch out to new audiences who had not seen the first films, which is why there is a prologue at the beginning of “Army of Darkness”, to give us a bit of a background to the story. This makes sense seeing as the first two films were not that successful in the box office and filming studios lumped a lot more money into “Army of Darkness.” Raimi was not so thrilled at this technique, so he at least got to keep the very clever subheading of the film “The Medieval Dead.”

Despite efforts by film studios “Army of Darkness” was the least well received film of the trilogy and barely made back enough money from the box office to cover its budget. But in the spirit of cult films like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the film developed an intense fan base after the movie was released onto video and is still a cult classic.

There are those out there who meet “Army of Darkness” with cynicism and say it goes too far in the comedic, fantasy, action pack side and forgets its horror roots. I respectfully disagree and have to say, not all horror has to indulge in gratuitous blood and gore. Why can’t we have a good laugh every once and a while?

“Robin Hood Men in Tights” came out at the same time as “Army of Darkness”. Granted I know the two movies have different plots, but in a lot of ways “Army of Darkness” feels like a gorier, R rated, more horror-esc version of the PG-13 Robin Hood. They both have the same kind of slapstick, cheesy humour. Rumour also has it that Mel Brooks, director of “Robin Hood Men in Tights” met with Sam Raimi and discussed filming techniques. Coincidental? It is too bad that Robin Hood did so much better, because as much I like Mel Brooks’ films, I mean it is “Army of Darkness”!

As far as plot, “Army of Darkness” is a bit more complex than the first two movies. That being said, it is not as though you are about to sit down and watch “The English Patient,” but as far as horror movies go, it is a bit more intricate and you do need to pay relative attention the first time you watch the movie. The first time I watched “Army of Darkness”, I made the HUGE mistake of watching it first in the series. Fair enough, I was eight when the film came out, so I will use that as my excuse, but I was damned confused with what was all going on in the movie. It does make more sense and is a hell of a lot more entertaining and funny when you have the background information from EVI and EV2.

This time Ash, is a discount-store employee that is time-warped to a medieval castle beset by monstrous forces. Ash is first mistaken for an enemy but is soon revealed as the prophesised savoir who sets out on a quest for the Necronomicon (Book of Dead), which will dispel the evil forces. Unfortunately, Ash screws up the magic words when retrieving the book and releases an army of skeletons, led by his own Deadite (undead) counterpart. In an attempt to redeem himself and get back to the 20th century, Ash attempts to thwart the army of darkness by using his 20th century tactics. It is the ultimate battle between good and evil.

The movie has intensely bad graphics, but that is partly what makes the movie so good. Of course it is cheesy! The last twenty minutes of the movie, all I can do is laugh. Watching a battle between animated and puppet skeleton’s and Ash is too hilarious. The thing is, Campbell pull it off so well. “Army of Darkness” is “The Three Stooges”, meets “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

The reason that “Army of Darkness” still does so well, is because the script is dynamite. Campbell delivers some of the most recognizable and quotable lines in movie history, including “This is my boomstick!” But the real gem in the film and the only reason the Evil Dead series does so well, is Bruce Campbell. He delivers a performance that is so unique, memorable and solid, it is unlike anything I have ever seen. Bruce Campbell is Ash, the charming, charismatic Deadite fighter. Every scene in the film, has memorable moments with pure hilarity. I think if studios decided to remake any of the Evil Dead movies, they would be met with an army of people protesting the movie. No one can do it but Bruce Campbell.

My final thoughts: “Give me some sugar baby!”




~ by exploitnation on June 5, 2008.

5 Responses to “Army of Darkness”

  1. I saw Army of Darkness when it was first released at the drive in with Halloween 6…and crestfallen…I disagree…the effects are awesome and very harryhausen-like.

    We need Campbell in a remake of Clash of the titans.


  2. Relatively speaking the effects are good…I mean they’re cheesy though, and don’t me wrong, I love them. They are perfect for the movie.

  3. Campbell should be in a remake of Sparticus

  4. One thing to notice in Army is how Ash starts out as self centered, kinda a puss, and just wants to return to his own time. Then out of nowhere he grows balls and is like “Go on, run home and cry to mama. Me, I’m tired of runnin’. Who’s with me?” Campbell talks alot in the commentary about how this makes zero sense. Hail to the King baby.

  5. I wouldn’t say he’s a puss, I mean c’mon “this is my boomstick”, did you not see how freaking wicked he is at the beginning in the pit fighting off a deadite! He meant business, and wasn’t going to back down.

    Self-centered sure.

    I think Ash genuinely felt badly for fucking the magic words. He kinda doomed the castle and all it’s people. Or maybe after 3 movies Ash was sick of the deadites pushing him around, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

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