Director – Sam Raimi
Cast – Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove, Timothy Patrick Quill, Ted Raimi
Release Year – 1992
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After the putting out two of the greatest horror films of all time, “The Evil Dead” & “Evil Dead II“, director Sam Raimi and his leading man Bruce Campbell returned to give us the third and final installment of the Evil Dead Trilogy…”Army of Darkness”. I remember passing by this film all the time at the video store when I was a child and thinking to myself that this film had the coolest movie cover/poster I had ever seen, and I still believe that!
This film takes off right where Evil Dead II leaves off with our lead Ash(Bruce Campbell) being sucked into a time warp and sent back to the medieval times. Upon arriving at his destination he is mistaken for being one of Henry The Red’s men and is taken prisoner by Lord Arthur(Marcus Gilbert). Ash is then sent to be executed, yet somehow good old Ashley “Ash” Williams survives the ordeal and it is then that the people realize he is “the one” who has been prophesized to come and save them from the evil around them. Ash of course wants no part of this and simply wishes to get back home as quickly as possible. The “wise one” of the castle agrees to tell Ash the incantation to get back to where he came from, but Ash needs the “Book of the Dead” AKA the Necronomicon in order to do so. Ash then treks on a journey to locate the book and of course…the bumbling Ash messes up the incantation and subsequently unleashes the Army of the Dead AKA the Deadites and must now stay to save the villagers he just put into grave danger.
Boy do I just love this film. This is often regarded to be the “weakest” in the Evil Dead trilogy, and it is, but that does not mean that this film is “weak” by any means. This film continues the elements we got in the first two installments, the only difference is this film is less scary and a lot more “fun” than the first two. I personally enjoyed the idea of setting this film in the middle ages, it provides Ash with the ability to make demeaning jokes at the “primitive screw heads” around him and also provides a different scenery compared to the first two installments. I did really enjoy the use of the woods and cabin during the first two films, but I agree with director Sam Raimi’s decision to change the atmosphere given that a third film with the same woods and cabin scenes would have been quite redundant and leave little room for creativity. Avid fans of Bruce Campbell’s “Ash” character will highly enjoy this film given that this is the film in which Ash kick’s the most ass. The first two films developed his character and showed his cowardly side until the last movement of Evil Dead II, which is probably the most epic movement of all three films. However Army of Darkness brings us the greatest bumbling anti-hero of all time, and really plays off Ash’s maturity given the horrific events he has gone through recently through the first two films. How fast would you grow up if you had to right off an army of deadites after having to brutally kill your demon possessed girlfriend as well as several of your friends who became possessed as well? Yeah…Sam and his brother Ivan(who wrote this film with him) capitalized Ash’s character development in the most awesome, goriest way possible. I love it!
Did I mention this film is just plain funny? Seriously, Raimi’s use of slapstick humor is one that I highly enjoy given that I as well am an avid fan of The Three Stooges and love the fact that Stooges humor can be effectively mixed in with horror elements. The scenes with the Army of the Dead arising and attacking the castle are classic and seem to use the most amount of slapstick comedy, and rightfully so. You can thank Sam Raimi’s use of POV camera angles, wide pans, and soft pans for this film’s “fun” feel(Example: Lord Arthur‘s arrow flying toward a fleeing prisoner). He continued to use these fun tricks in his Spiderman films, and it obviously paid off given the amount of revenue the blockbuster trilogy has pulled in. I also really enjoyed the fact that Sam Raimi used walking skeletons during the final battle, there is just something about walking skeletons that creeps me out and have not seen nearly enough of that element in horror films.
Overall, this is a fun ride that is guaranteed to please fans of the first two films. I recommend this to all humans, but make sure you have seen at least Evil Dead II to understand Ash’s character development.