"Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun."
Army of Darkness (1992) (Also known as Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness or Army of Darkness: The Medieval Dead) is the conclusion to the to original Evil Dead trilogy following The Evil Dead (1981) and is a direct sequel to Evil Dead II (1987). Like those this film is directed by Sam Raimi and also stars Bruce Campbell as our hero Ash Williams.
Army of Darkness picks up right after the conclusion of Evil Dead II with Ash stranded in Medieval England in 1300 AD, where he must quest for the dreaded Necronomicon to defeat the evil deadites and return to his own time.
I love how simple and straightforward the story is in Army of Darkness. It also works almost completely on it's own. So much so that when you ask if people have seen any of the Evil Dead movies most people have no idea what you're talking about but if you bring up Army of Darkness, suddenly they know exactly what you're talking about. There's a very brief recap at the beginning for anyone who hasn't seen Evil Dead II, but even this is done very cleverly because it even adds elements to the backstory and gives us a little more about Ash's past than we've know previously! And it all works just to add a couple more hilarious jokes into this film! "Shop smart, shop S-Mart!" Not many filmmakers would have done this.
Really the only negative things I could say about this film is some of the practical effects can be very obvious that they are on the lower end of the budget like rubber skeletons and such, but most of it is not distracting to the point of actually affecting the scene negatively. Also story-wise some of the slapstick humor tends to lead story astray or on long tangents that could have been cut down but that kind of is the nature of that type of humor. No one really complains That Three Stooges doesn't stay on topic do they?
The thing that always astonishes me with this film is the creativity. First of all the jokes and humor of this film isn't something that was came up with over night this is an amazing combination of slapstick, puns, references and jokes half of which probably started with, "wouldn't it be funny if we..." or "what if we tried this." This film is a passion project and the film's unique sense of humor is where I think it shows the most.
I also love the creativity and ingenuity in the way this film mixes mediums. As for the different types of practical effects, this film uses the whole gambit. There's scenes where Sam Raimi seamlessly uses puppets, stop motion, actors in suits, and just regular props all in one sequence to bring to life the undead villains that the knights are fighting. This takes a such a high level of planning and skill, I really marvel at these things when watching this film. This is the result of a low-budget filmmaker given a larger budget and proof of how different his sensibility is than the rest of Hollywood. Awesome.
All of the dialogue in this film is absolutely hilarious. They started to get to it with the last film but this is the film it really hits its mark. There's countless lines that are very quotable and memorable, it's no wonder this became such a cult classic. And as promised, I really gotta hand it to Bruce Campbell in this one. This is full-blown, hail to the king-Ash Williams. He takes that character he was starting to become last film and really just hits a home run with it in this film. His acting alone makes me wish there was just tons more movies that followed this one.
Even though we just finished the original Evil Dead trilogy, tomorrow we continue with more Evil Dead-related goodness (and it may not be what you're expecting!) here on the 31 Nights of Macabre Movies.
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