Ash (Bruce Campbell) gets whisked away to medieval times where he is immediately enslaved and sentenced to die in a pit fight with some Deadites. He easily kicks loads of ass and pretty soon everyone is calling him “The Promised One”. In order to stop the Evil Dead from haunting the King’s castle, Ash has to go on a quest to retrieve the Necronomicon. Whilst removing the book from it’s unholy cradle, Ash fucks up the magic words (“Klaatu… Barata… Cough… Cough… Cough!) and it doesn’t take long before the dreaded Deadites are trying to break down the castle walls. Luckily, with a little 20th century know-how Ash is able to fend off the Army of Darkness and return to his own time. (If he can ever get those words right.)
Army of Darkness is the best film in The Evil Dead trilogy. This is not a popular opinion. I know I am in the minority on this one, but for me this is the most balls out fun movie in the series. Not only is it the best of the Evil Deads; it’s also one of the greatest movies ever made. (It’s Number 4 on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of All Time List in between Fight Club and Halloween.) This movie rocks and it rocks HARD. It’s ten times funnier than most comedies and features enough movie in-jokes to make your head spin. (Everything from The Three Stooges to Jason and the Argonauts to Gulliver’s Travels to The Manster to The Day the Earth Stood Still is referenced.)
In addition to the wide range of film references, director Sam Raimi mashes up a whole bunch of genres and hits the PUREE button. There’s horror, sword and sorcery, comedy, and even a little romance too. Army also features more action than you can shake a stick at. Throughout the movie Ash battles monsters in the pit (the part where he leaps in the air and his chainsaw lands on his stump is priceless), gets attacked by miniature versions of himself, fights his evil double, gets sucked into a vortex, gets assaulted by an evil book, and goes to war against an army of skeletons. Raimi films all of this with his usual manic energy and the results are one Hell of a breathtaking, non-stop, hilarious, good time.
Most reviews I’ve read of this film always whine that there isn’t as much blood as the previous films. Umm… HELLO didn’t you see that great big geyser of blood when that one guy got pushed into the pit? That scene alone featured three times the amount of blood than the first two movies combined. This scene also gives us a pretty good severed head and a disembodied hand, so I don’t want to even hear these petty gripes about the lack of gore.
What makes Army of Darkness standout from the other films in the series (besides the bigger budget that is) is that Ash actually has a character arc in this one. He just isn’t being repeatedly assaulted by the undead (well he is, but still). He goes from being a loudmouth, to being a coward, to finally, a hero. Bruce plays all of these facets of his character extremely well; particularly in the scenes where he acts like a complete jackass to people.
This movie also has the most quotable dialogue than any film ever conceived by the human mind. If you don’t quote the following lines aloud in casual everyday conversations, then there is something SERIOUSLY wrong with you:
“Well HELLO Mr. Fancy Pants! I got news for you pal; you ain’t leading but two things right now, Jack and Shit. And Jack left town!”
“All right, you primitive screwheads listen up! You see this? This is my BOOMSTICK!”
“Now I swear… the next one of you primates, even touches me…”
“First you wanna kill me… now you want to kiss me… BLOW!” (This is particularly effective on first dates.)
“Yo She-Bitch! Let’s go!” (Again, great to use on a first date.)
“Gimme some sugar baby!” (Likewise, a golden statement for a first date.)
“Good… bad… I’m the guy with the gun.” (Good for a night in
“That’s just what we call pillow talk, baby!” (In fact, nearly everything Ash says in this movie could be said on a first date.)
“Say hello to the 21st century!” (Which is fitting since we’re actually in the 21st century now.)
And of course the immortal, “Hail to the king baby!”
You can tell that Raimi was particularly proud of his dialogue because during the closing credits, his (along with his brother Ivan) screenwriting credit appears before his directing credit. I’d be proud of that shit too. Raimi went on to direct the Spider-Man trilogy. They were great and all, but none of those movies captured the sheer awesomeness of this flick. It’s truly one of the greatest movies in the history of the human race.
Army of Darkness is Numero Uno on The Video Vacuum Top Ten Films of the Year 1993.
<Tomorrow’s Horror Franchise Movie: Psycho (1960)>