Army of Darkness (1992) Review

So I just finished Army of Darkness, the third and final movie of the original Evil Dead Trilogy. Army of Darkness is an American comedy horror directed and written by Sam Raimi, and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, Embeth Davidtz as Shelia, Marcus Gilbert as Lord Arthur, and Ian Abercrombie as The Wiseman. Army of Darkness sees Ash being sent back in time to the 1300s, a time when deadites are more rampant in the world. We follow his journey as he retrieves the necronomicon, becomes the figure of legend, and returns home……… after a lot of shenanigans. I have to say I really enjoyed this movie. Its a major departure from the rest of the franchise, but it still works as a part of it. The story and plot line of the movie is good for the type of movie it is. It works for the genre and the changes made to the Ash character. It build off of the last movie by giving the characters more agency in their actions. As this time Ash has to go to the book and retrieve it, the characters make more decisions throughout more of the movie and have more active roles. A lot of this movie works to show how Ash has changed over the, (….centuries, week?) I guess, week that the events of these movies happen in. 

I might as well talk about him already but Ash is great in this movie. He’s changed a lot and because of the stuff he’s much more of an asshole. I mean he’s tired and pissed off about everything that’s happened to him and is happening to him. This is also the first time we get to learn more about Ash’s history in the franchise. It establishes that he has a job and is I guess recently out of school. We also get to see more of his ingenuity from the second movie, although now he’s an expert mechanical engineer being able to make a fully functioning prosthetic hand in the 1300s. This is the movie that would go on to define the character’s personality going forward in the franchise. He’s a prick, he has a ton of memorable lines, and he’s a bit of a smart moron. His characterization is a big departure from the prior movies, like the rest of this movie. Performance wise Bruce Campbell is having a ball. He’s supremely confident, and gets to play a bunch of different versions of himself again. Funny to think about how this movie would also go on to define Bruce Campbell’s career and persona going forward. This is also the first time we see the character go on an emotional arc. He starts off the movie selfish and just wanting to get back home after all the shit, and throughout the run time we see him go through more shit, but come around to be the hero he’s destined to be. The character has developed a lot in the time we’ve been following him. From meek and timid in the first movie, to a full on action badass. This movie is the first time we get an actual villain, at least a characterized villain with Evil Ash. He’s a fun character that is as wild and wacky as the rest of the movie. Though I guess that can be considered one of the downfalls of the movie. The deadites in this movie are a lot more wacky in their characterization. I mean the army of the dead are like battledroids from star wars. They all have different personalities and are useful in the numbers they have. I do enjoy them though. The rest of the characters and performances are all effective and work in the wacky and over-the-top world of this movie.

While this movie is incredibly different than the first two, where it stands out is in production value. This movie has a much bigger budget and the movie makes great use out of it. Taking a page out of classic action and adventure movies, it makes use of stop-motion, puppets, a big castle set, lots of extras, and a classic army of skeletons. It also makes use of professional stunts and choerographers. A lot of use of fire and explosions which is fun. The skeleton puppets are hilarious and you can tell they had fun with them. We also get more of Sam Raimi’s interesting camera work and ideas for how the deadites mess with Ash. The deadite make-up and costumes have also changed a lot to resemble over-the-top demons, vs the changed facial features of the first 2 movies. Everything comes together to create this cartoonish atmosphere which really works for me. That’s actually a good way to describe this movie. It’s a live-action cartoon. We get over-the-top action, we get funny skeleton army, we get a massive battle sequence. Everything comes together to create this fun experience. The music is great again, fitting the kind of movie this is. The comedy also really works for me. I love the physical slapstick comedy that this movie decides to focus on. Like just everything at the windmill is hilarious, and the skeletons are funny. Oh I almost forgot about the skeleton scene when Ash is fleeing the cemetery. It’s a full on 3 stooges sketch and it just works so well for me. 

Over-all I had a ton of fun with this one. It’s very different from the rest of the franchise, being more slapstick and comedic than the second one. It has very little horror elements in the movie. To me this wouldn’t be a comedy horror, it’s more of an action/adventure comedy with horror elements in it. It still makes for a great experience though. It’s the perfect movie for this time of year. It just fits the halloween spirit for me. I mean it has some spookiness, skeletons, fun, funny, and mostly family friendly. If you haven’t watched it yet I highly recommend it. Just don’t go into it expecting anything like the other 2 movies in this trilogy. Two Thumbs Up !!

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