Evil Dead: Army of Darkness turns 25 – the birth of Ash vs Evil Dead


Army of Darkness the last film in Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy turns 25. In retrospect, one could say that it really was the “birth” of the Ash Williams we know and love today in Ash vs Evil Dead.

“But in my own way, I am King.” – Ashley J. Williams

Here I Am in Ye Olden Times

Everyone’s favorite splatstick film, Army of Darkness turns a quarter of a century. It feels like it was only yesterday when we were introduced to the Knights of Sumeria.

We all know the story. Ash Williams played by the always entertaining King of the B movies, Bruce Campbell gets propelled into the 1300s. Like a fish out of water, he must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune until he picks up his boomstick and gives those primitive screwheads the what for.

His ability to fight that Deadite she wench from hell in the pit cements his status among the unwashed masses as the Chosen One. It also makes him mighty attractive to Sheila (Embeth Davitz).  Of course, they hook up but it was just “pillow talk, baby.”

We get to see Ash fight himself which is a theme that will come back around in the current incarnation of Campbell’s character. There are many amusing scenes featuring Evil Ash, tiny Ashes and the now famous “Klaatu, Verata, Necktie” incident.

In reviewing this film, I am truly struck at how you can see the evolution of the present-day Ash Williams from the AOD Ash. Bruce Campbell has stated many different times in various interviews that he was just 21 when he played Ash in Evil Dead.

He also readily admits that he didn’t know anything about the craft of acting. In Evil Dead 2, Campbell definitely understood more about his character and Ash started to feel like a more confident guy who was getting his proverbial s*** together.

Ash Williams at 60

Ash vs Evil Dead feels like a natural successor to Army of Darkness. The Ash Williams that inhabits Elk Grove, Michigan is definitely the elder incarnation of the shotgun wielding, mullet haired thirty-five-year-old who uttered, “Hail to the King, baby.”

Although he is almost sixty, Ash of today still has the unabashed swagger of his younger self. Espousing one liners, chasing women, avoiding responsibility is exactly what you would expect from a time traveling retail worker. He hasn’t changed just gotten greyer, put on a few pounds and is decidedly surlier.

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Still not accepting his legacy as the Chosen One, much like in Army of Darkness, this sexagenarian just wants to in Campbell’s words, “drink cheap beer and watch porn.” He is very reluctant to be a leader and yet much like his younger self, he finds that greatness is indeed constantly being thrust upon him.

However, older Ash has matured in one respect. He has allowed himself to get closer to people. The Army of Darkness Ash is a lone wolf. So much so that when Sheila confronts him about things that he said in the heat of passion that may have revealed his inner self, he deflects her with a flippant retort.

He still tries not to divulge his true feelings but now he has allowed himself to get close to his sidekicks, Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago). There is a hidden vulnerability to Ash but the older he gets the less shielded he becomes. This fact is readily apparent in upcoming Season 3 episodes of the series.

Timeless Classic

Much like the beloved 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, Army of Darkness is a timeless classic. The beauty of this film is that it ages very well. There are no obvious references to the 90s in the S-Mart sequences. Yes, Bruce Campbell looks younger but the actual storyline holds up.

Consistently cited by fans on how they discovered the trilogy, Army of Darkness has spawned a new generation of Ash Williams fans. Teenagers or people in their twenties in 1993 are now having children and grandchildren.

When a movie gets passed down almost like folklore in ancient times to offspring, that is when a cultural impact has been made. Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert can be very proud of their achievement, for this film is their legacy and it is quite legendary.

Next: Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 Review: Heroes, myths and epic journeys

Are you a fan of Army of Darkness? Do you feel Ash vs Evil Dead is a successor to AOD? Feel free to share your opinions. We want to hear from you.