Army of Darkness (1992)

Posted by on Dec 30, 2011 in Comics & Superheroes | 0 comments

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Disclaimer: This one, like the other Evil Dead films, has a significant amount of violence and some swearing. And beware of Bruce Campbell’s chin.

Army of Darkness, or Evil Dead III, is another installment of the 1981 horror film that was so deliciously bad that it rose to cult status almost overnight. So much so that, ridiculously, they remade the original with Evil Dead II and purposely made it funnier to lavish the original’s failure to be taken seriously (aka: success with a capital B). Don’t worry about missing the first two, if you haven’t seen them, since a minutes-long montage sequence at the beginning more than catches you up. Yeah, they’re that simple, but by no means does that take away from their awesomeness.

In this one, which by far has the least scares and gore, plus the most kitsch and over-the-top comedy (kids will love that), our shotgun-grasping, chainsaw-armed protagonist Ash (Bruce Campbell) is sent back to the 13th Century in the middle of a war between two neighboring countries. After being nearly killed, twice, the town’s wiseman (Ian Abercrombie) labels Ash as the one to deliver them from the evil of the Book of the Dead (The Necronomicon). While Ash doesn’t want to be a part of their battle, the book is the only key for Ash to get back to the future and, thus, he agrees to retrieve it.

On Ash’s quest for the book, he Darkness3accidentally awakens the dead and the town must square off against the living dead in a battle of good (and bad) versus evil. Explosions, death, and animated skeletons ensue. Embeth Davidtz stars as Ash’s love interest (Sheila) and Marcus Gilbert plays a King Arthur-type character in this Sam Raimi-directed farce.

While The Evil Dead series is in no way a comic book series, Bruce Campbell definitely embodies the superhero ethos, as he sports a chainsaw arm and powerful cleft chin (I’d take him against The Incredible Hulk any day).

After Ash goes to retrieve the book, the film turns into a neverending series of action sequences that will have you fighting for air. Enjoy, for instance, the incessantly humorous scene where Ash forgets the magic words (the same from The Day the Earth Stood Still) or his battle against Lilliputian clones of himself – comic gold.

While you may find the items in Ash’s car trunk convenient and contrived, reports say director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man and Drag Me to Hell) chose his own car for the film and all those items are actually in there (e.g. a Chemistry 101 book).

The film has two different endings and some of the DVDs don’t have both, so keep that in mind because you might want to see them both. The word around the Hollywood campfire is that Raimi will be allowing a remake of the first one in the coming years (I don’t know why). Plus, Raimi left the endings fairly open-ended for a potential fourth installment (we can only hope).

It ain’t exactly Spider-Man (another Raimi-directed flick), but that’s a good thing. I thought these were a riot when I first saw it as a kid, and now I love them even more (now that I’m a bigger kid). I always like to think of Pauline Kael’s quote, “If we cannot appreciate great trash we have very little reason to be interested in great art.” And this, my friends, is exquisite trash.

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