Army of Darkness: Third Outing Lives Up To Iconic Predecessor


The Plot:

Picking up immediately after the events of Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, anti-hero Ash is sucked into a time portal that sends him back to a time when the sword was king and the horse ruled the road. First looked at as a slave, then as a savior, Ash must seek out the Necronomicon if he has any hope of returning to current day Detroit. But when a mishap threatens to keep him there forever, Ash must lead the town’s people in the ultimate fight against the undead army of Deadites. If he fails, there won’t be any hailing to the king. Welcome to Army of Darkness.

Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun- Ashley Williams

The Review:

I remember being a small child, staying over my Granny’s house like some reject character from an unseen Goosebumps episode. To pass the time, I’d escape to the wonderful world of that big black box where anything was possible; be kind, rewind. That’s where I found Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness. Recorded randomly, and found just the same, I fell in love with the quirky tale of the man with one hand. From that day I was forever a Deadite. So let’s all turn the page on that book bound in human flesh, hop in The Classic, and head to that dark dank cabin as a review Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness.

The Direction:

Sam Raimi directs Army of Darkness with ease and precision. Clocking in at a crisp, feverishly paced 81 minutes, the picture wastes no time untangling the third chapter in The Necronomicon Trilogy. No exaggeration, the third act comes at you so fast it’s as if you are on the cinematic Raimi roller-coaster. Put those hands up. It’s preferred if one’s a chainsaw.

The Director also displays a well-versed camera language with Army of Darkness. While I get a strong sense that the Spider-Man Trilogy (2002-2007) director was more concerned with script execution and character building, the film is still sharp in areas of composition and camera movement. Being that Army of Darkness marked the sixth feature for the director, if you count 1978’s promotional short Within the Woods, it’s no surprise the man’s a disciplined filmmaker and he brought the good with this picture.

One example, specifically, comes when our favorite lovable S-Mart stocker sheds his first Deadite of the picture. There’s a beautiful pull-out shot, showing multiple character reactions to something Ash has done. It’s followed by a low, camera- tilted slow push-in. Campbell steps into the frame and delivers “Now, let’s talk bout how I get home”with amazing confidence. Eat it up fright fans.

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The Acting:

Army of Darkness boasts pretty average performances overall, which doesn’t really take away from the fast-paced experience. Though the movie isn’t dulled with bad performances, that chainsaw wielding wise cracker seemingly has every line in the Deadite Dramedy, the fact of the matter is only two actors really stand out. Who those two are won’t surprise you. Ok, one might.

First up is horror legend Bruce Campbell. What can be said about the guy that hasn’t been said a hundred times? What Campbell brings to the role of Ashley Williams, though often referred by the manlier name Ash, is so special that it’s hard to put in to words. The series wouldn’t be if it weren’t for his stunning work in the immortal Evil Dead 2 and its follow-up, the very film you are reading the review of. The series wouldn’t be arguably the greatest trilogy the world had ever been privileged too either. He has the remarkable ability to be cocky, but in a charming way. You want to hate him, but only because you aren’t him. One scene in particular where the cocky thespian shines comes when the town’s people try and rid the world of old bad Ashley. The results are deliciously comedic and macabre.

The other stand out performance comes from Otis Driftwood himself. Bill Mosley, who is a genre vet in his own right, plays the Deadite Captain with sinister glee. Honestly, I didn’t know this was the Mosley for the longest time and I hated myself for it for some time. I’ve since went to horror rehab. No worries fellow Elm Street residents, I’m twelve stepping it. On the matter of this film, Mosley’s work as the undead ringleader is as sharp as a knife with a dragon on the blade. When watching the film, I couldn’t help but think this man of the Undead Army was a perfect antithesis to Bruce’s madly confident Ash. No better compliment has ever been spoken.

Then there is Embeth Davidtz, stepping into the role of Sheila. While she’s a little stiff in a few scenes, her performance vastly improving when her character is transformed, the actress is a decent enough love interest for the torn-shirt titan from Detroit. She actually, along with Bruce, has one of the best moments/lines in the picture.

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The Script:

Sam and Ivan Raimi‘s script for Army of Darkness is a blast of fresh air in an otherwise smelly early 90s warehouse. There isn’t, and more than likely never will be, a script quite like what the Raimi brothers created for Ash’s third outing. One of the standout aspects comes in the form of the pieces overall tone.

Much like I spoke about tone in my last review, the tone of this celluloid adventure started before a location was ever scouted. Right from the beginning, you know this isn’t really a horror flick. It’s a hybrid mash-up of many aspects that to list them all here would take up the whole review. But the results are magnificent.

Another strength of the script come from the Raimi brothers taste in comedy. The jokes and gags, which also help the film’s tone be just that much more bloody blissful, are straight out of The Three Stooges. Larry, Moe, and Curly….And Bruce. Sorry Shemp. So long Joe. Especially in the second half of the film, if you told me one of The Stooges wrote the script I would believe it. The Raimi brothers are widely known for their love of the legendary comedy trio and no other film in Director Sam Raimi’s filmography exemplifies that quite like 1992’s Army of Darkness.

The Verdict:

Sam Raimi’s Army of Darkness is the stuff of legend. While it may be the second best entry in the series, it’s still a wholly unique experience compared to almost any film out there. Simply put, it’s a blast. Grab the remote. Grab the popcorn. Grab the shotgun. Don’t worry. You’re ganna need all three.

Grade: A