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Army of Darkness Movie Review
Director: Sam Raimi
Release Date: 19 February 1993
Running Time: 81 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Editor’s Rating: 4 out of 4 Boomsticks
Here we are: the end of Giggleween. What could I review to bring about a fitting close to this parade of horrors and guffaws? How about the last in a film trilogy that has no shame whatsoever? How does one top two films known for their campy gore and cheesy storyline? By doing it all over again, only this time, one throws in time travel.
The Evil Dead timeline is relatively straightforward, even though it loops back about 700 years right at the end. The events of Evil Dead segue right into Evil Dead 2, which in turn goes right into Army of Darkness.
To catch you up, here’s five one-word sentences to describe the first two movies:
With Army of Darkness, we’re brought into a medieval setting, but with the same demons. Ash, our hero, is trying to find a way back to his time, and the only way he can do so is to use a book of dark magicks known as the Necronomicon to muster the power needed to send him back. Problem is, Ash isn’t the brightest bulb in the drawer, and ends up screwing it up. This in turn releases a chain of events that lead to the dead rising from the grave and causing havoc upon the village that has helped him out. Yet again, Ash must rally himself and face the demons of hell.
There’s one thing I want state before I go into more analysis of the film, and it regards the seriousness of the Evil Dead movies. The original Evil Dead was the passion project of director Sam Raimi and his friends and family. It was a true-to-form, all-out, red-corn-syrup-splattering-against-the-wall horror movie. It put Raimi and crew on the map, and was even lauded by master of horror (and a bunch of other genres, yells the lit nerd side of myself) Stephen King. The special effects were efficient for the film’s budget and well done, but they weren’t top-of-the-line effects. The second film introduced a sense of the ridiculous, and got a bit more campy, introducing Ash’s chainsaw hand and the dimensional portal to segue into Army, but it was still a horror flick. The effects were still top-notch for the money, but intentional comedy had begun to work itself into the film, as opposed to the cheesy horror effects that would get a giggle out of most people today. Army of Darkness, however, does not care one bit about being a scary movie. It is a fantasy action-comedy with demon bad guys. And it delivers.
This is a film that takes common sense and lets it hang out in the green room while action and attitude take center stage. Bruce Campbell’s third go-around with Ash is his most physical, and for all of the silly things he does in the movie, he showcases his versatility as an actor. He’s not just an action hero, he’s a funny guy as well. His dry humor hits every time, and his physical comedy, specifically his overly-expressive mug, is hilarious to watch in action. Make no mistake, this is Bruce Campbell’s movie, there just happen to be other people in it too.
That supporting cast, comprised mainly of Embeth Davitz and Marcus Gilbert, do their characters as much justice as the script allows. Embeth, as Ash’s love interest Sheila, plays the damsel in distress stereotype to a tee, while Gilbert is certainly playing an Englishman from the 13th century named Arthur, but he’s not that Arthur. This Arthur is a bit headstrong, but mostly in over his head. That’s where Ash steps in to help him out, when Ash isn’t screwing things up due to his raging ego. Which reminds me…
When I said this was Bruce Campbell’s movie, I misspoke. This is Ash’s movie. Ash is literally his own worst enemy, and this movie is the most literal interpretation of putting to rest the skeletons in his closet imaginable. The only problem is that like most people, he doesn’t learn his lesson. But for Ash, the consequences are a bit more dire when he fails then when you or I fail our diets because Popeye’s chicken is amazing. For Ash, the fate of the world hangs in the balance. Thankfully, he can just blow the problem’s head off. Groovy.
**This film is a proud piece of my collection. The movie is not intended for young audiences, so watch it while the kids are our trick-or-treating with grandma. I was not compensated for this review.**
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