Army of Darkness (Director's Cut) (1992) Review
Written by: azathoth
This is the third movie in the "Evil Dead" trilogy, and also the weakest entry. This is still one of my top films, but there is little gore and the humor is substandard compared to "Evil Dead II".
Our usual cast of suspects is back, along with some new people. Sam Raimi ("The Quick and the Dead", "A Simple Plan") once again helms the franchise. Bruce Campbell (TV's "Jack of All Trades" and "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.") reprises his role of Ash. Embeth Davidtz ("Schindler's List", "Murder in the First") plays Sheila. Bridget Fonda ("Point of No Return", "Frankenstein Unbound") plays Ash's girlfriend Linda. Patricia Tallman (TV's "Babylon 5") has a small role as the Possessed Witch. Ted Raimi plays at least four roles throughout the film. Other important characters are Lord Arthur, ruler of the land and Duke Henry the Red, enemy of Lord Author. This has the largest cast for an "Evil Dead" movie by far.
"Army of Darkness" (AoD) picks up after "Evil Dead II", except this time instead of being hailed as a hero, Ash is now in chains with Henry the Red and his followers on their way to Arthur's castle, with a voiceover by Ash. The prisoners are led to a pit. The first one is pushed in and shortly a gush of blood explodes out of the pit. Ash is next. He fights off one demon, and then someone tosses his chainsaw to him. While slicing away a demon hand flies up and attaches itself to an onlookers face. Ash gets out of the pit and blows away Lord Arthur's sword with his "boomstick" (ah, where did that come from?), which retails for about $109.95 at 'S-Mart.' (Remember, "Shop smart, shop S-Mart")
Ash gets the royal treatment, complete with ladies feeding him grapes. Here Ash gets really uppity and acts like a jerk; this is a part of the film that disappointed. After wiping out another demon ("Yo, she bitch! Let's go!"), the wise man figures out that the "Necronomicon" must be retrieved to stop the demons from their continuous attacks. Ash doesn't much care, he just wants to go home, but when Sheila gets carried off he decides to go. In the midst of all this is a great scene of Ash and the blacksmith creating a cyborg hand to replace his previously sawed off one. (Right after he get his new hand he gets to throw out a great one-liner before kissing Sheila, "Gimme some sugar, baby.") Off goes Ash to retrieve the book, but when he does he must incant the famous phrase "klattu barada nikto".
On the way to the graveyard that houses the Book, he must flee into a windmill to escape the fearsome 'Raimi POV demon'. He gets attacked by mini-Ashs and later splits into two Ashes, one of which is evil. Good Ash still has the shotgun so he blasts Evil Ash in the face and buries him. Score one for the good guys.
Once Ash gets to graveyard, hijinks ensure, including him fumbling the incantation and a tribute to the 3 Stooges. He eventually returns to the castle, but his phrase mumbling has brought the army of the dead to life, including Evil Ash. A nicely done battle ensues. But does Ash get back home? Actually it depends. See the SPOILERS below.
This version has a very nice video transfer. Music and audio FX are fine. The cinematography is not as good as "Evil Dead II"; it is more conventional. The acting is good all around, even the skeletons. The action scenes are great. The humor is at times a bit silly and forced, but in other scenes spot on. AoD does not have nearly as much gore as the previous ED movies, but still a lot of violence. The visual FX are really good, even the CGI'd army of the dead.
This film lost some points for some excessive silliness and Ash acting like a complete jerk for a fair bit of the movie. This will appeal to a wider audience than the first two ED movies. I would suggest a buy. AoD would be a good party film.
*** SPOILERS ***
The director's cut includes the alternate ending. In this ending Ash messes up the incantation again and goes way into the future, where he finds himself in some post-apocalyptic world, including a fallen Statue of Liberty a la "Planet of the Apes". The original ending has Ash back in his time period working at S-Mart, but a demon followed him. After taking care of the demon, he delivers another classic line right before kissing a woman, "Hail to the King, baby."