Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Bruce Campbell: Ash
Embeth Davidtz: Sheila
Marcus Gilbert: Lord Arthur
Ian Abercrombie: Wiseman
Richard Grove: Duke Henry the Red
Like the first two movies, Ash must kick some deadite butt. The difference is, he does it medieval style. Sam Raimi directs this comedic horror that became a classic in the horror genre.
So there’s no confusion, a ‘deadite’ is a person possessed by an evil dead.
The movie starts off where Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn (1987) left off. Ash gets sucked into a rift in time and space and ends up in the past around 1300 A.D. Found by Lord Arthur and his men, a wiseman of theirs believes Ash is the chosen one prophesized to destroy the evil bestowed upon them. Arthur, for some odd reason (I like to think jealousy of Ash’s machismo) labels him as one of Henry the Red’s men (an enemy to Arthur), and takes him as a prisoner.
After taking a brutal beating by the townsfolk and their children, Ash is thrown into a pit of deadites which he fistfights until overpowering them when he’s reunited with his chainsaw, thanks to the wiseman. After escaping the pit and using persuasive powers with his sawed-off shotgun, he shows the townsfolk his superiority and asks them to help him get back to his time.
The wiseman lets Ash know that he can send him back with a spell from a certain book: ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’. Roughly translated as ‘The Book of the Dead’ (the same one as in the first two movies). The wiseman informs Ash that the book can bring peace to the land from the evil as well as send him home. He also states that Ash, the chosen one, is the only one that can quest for it. So after making a robotic hand to replace his chainsaw and learning what words he needs to say before picking up the book, he starts off to find the Necronomicon.
(*WARNING* SPOILER SECTION– I do not give away the ending to this movie, but those who haven’t seen it should refrain from reading the next section. It is the bulk and best part of the movie. I suggest you skip this part, read the bottom section, then go see the movie and enjoy.*WARNING* SPOILER SECTION)
Ash sets off and soon takes shelter in an old windmill for the night, where he is troubled by some mischievous mini Ashes and a ‘Bad Ash’ that grew out of his shoulder. He deals with Bad Ash using his shotgun, chainsaw, and infamous one-liners (including one of my favorites: ‘Good…bad…I’m the guy with the gun’). Upon getting to the graveyard, Ash can’t remember one of the words he needs to state, so he instead muffles the word and assures to himself that he said it. Picking up the book without saying the words correctly, he awakens the dead and gets back on his horse to head back to Arthur’s castle.
After talking to Ash, and finding out his idiotic mistake, the wiseman informs him that the dead will come to take the book back. Ash at first just wants to get home, but has a change of heart when his new girl, Sheila, is taken by a flying deadite. Ash helps train the remaining townsmen and creates an arsenal of weapons to use in an all out war against this Army of the Dead, who are now led by Bad Ash who lives again!
(*END OF SPOILER SECTION*)
While Army of Darkness may not have as much blood, gore, and terror as Raimi’s preceding Evil Dead movies and recent masterpiece Drag Me to Hell (2009), it still holds its place in horror movie history. It’s wildly entertaining utilizing a lot of slapstick comedy similar to the style of The Three Stooges mixed in with evil spirits looking to swallow your soul! Ash (portrayed by the infamous B actor Bruce Campbell) is an iconic horror movie hero – extremely knuckleheaded, but redeeming himself with brawn, brutality, and one-liners. Yes, this movie is cheesy (especially in dialogue), so I know there will be some people who might complain that it’s not realistic in certain aspects. If you’re not familiar with Raimi’s style of horror flicks, this is his comic relief, and he uses it more in this film than others. For example, Ash’s crush in this movie is named Sheila. Now I’m not a historian, but I don’t think Sheila was a very popular name in 1300 A.D. And how Ash managed to make a mechanical hand in that time period is also a mystery. But it’s these things that make the movie great as well as entertaining. If you don’t pass too much judgment on this, you’re in for a hell of a time. And for those current fans of the movie, I suggest you check out the director’s cut version. It has an excellent alternate ending. (not that there’s anything wrong with the original).
There’s enough blood, gore, make-up and sound effects in Army of Darkness to scare children or someone that’s easily scared. But if you’ve been around the horror block, I doubt you’ll get a shiver from this movie. That doesn’t mean don’t see it. Any horror fan will still applaud this classic. Raimi shows creativeness and originality in the genre that doesn’t appear in anyone else’s work. The blend of comedy and horror make for a groovy film!