Army Of Darkness [Theatrical Version](1992): Breakdown by Rantbo
Bruce Campbell vs. The Army Of Darkness
As this is the 3rd movie in the EVIL DEAD TRILOGY, I feel I must briefly summarize what happened previously, if for no other reason than if this breakdown happens to be read by some poor bastard that has neglected to see these amazing films…
THE EVIL DEAD: A group of college kids; Ash (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda, his sister Cheryl, and friends Shelly and Scotty, are on a weekend vacation at a reclusive cabin, deep within the woods of Tennessee. Once there, they find a book entitled the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (translated, “Book of the Dead”) and a tape recorder that plays the translated passages of it’s pages. Upon listening to the tape, Ash and crew inadvertently awake a gaggle of evil parasitic spirits. Chaos ensues. Eventually Ash is the lone survivor and manages to finally quell the spirits by destroying the Necronomicon in the cabin’s fireplace. Or, at least, so he thought. The film ends on a slightly dark note with Ash possibly being possessed himself.
EVIL DEAD II: DEAD BY DAWN: After having lost the rights to part one, director/creator Sam Raimi decided to open this sequel with a re-filmed, “cliff-notes” re-cap of part one, covering much of the same ground: Ash and Linda go on vacation, find the book, unleash the spirits, Linda is possessed, killed by Ash, who is then possessed himself.
Continuing The Story: The effects of Ash’s possession appear to only impede him at night, so the film follows as he tries futilely to escape and battle the evil dead, or ‘Deadites’ as they are called and get out of the woods alive.
After losing a hand and most of his sanity, Ash is eventually ‘saved’ by the returning cabin owner and Necronomicon research team, who work together and open a vortex for which to banish the evil spirits. Which it does, but it also takes Ash, his car, his chainsaw and his trusty shotgun with it, to England, circa 1300 AD…
ARMY OF DARKNESS: Trapped in time, surrounded by evil and low on gas, Ash sets out to reclaim the Necronomicon, which a wise man tells him can return him home. Along his journey he mistakenly unleashes the evil dead, for a second time and begrudgingly agrees to aid the local “primitive screwheads” in fighting off the Army of Deadites that have risen to lay siege to Lord Arthur’s castle, that happens to be lead by Ash’s undead clone, Bad Ash (a.k.a. Evil Ash).
So, does Ash stave off the Deadites, rescue the girl, save the settlement and return to his own time? Of course. But it’s all about the journey, not the destination and this adventure simply must be viewed for full appreciation.
Alright, that was a ton of exposition, I apologize. So, the question is: Is it any good? Answer: Does Bruce Campbell have an epic chin?
The Evil Dead films are quite unique, as the progression in style over the course of the trilogy is unlike any other. The first film is straight up horror, with mild comedic moments peppered in-between (tree rape). The second sacrifices a portion of the terror in exchange for much larger comedic play, which, best I can describe, is like watching a THREE STOOGES film, where the Stooges have been possessed by demons and are trying to kill one another. Then with the third film, Raimi decided to take the style of part two, but set it in medieval times and add a large scale epic-action battle and love story into the mix, thus making AOD an Action/Horror/Romantic-Slapstick-Comedy/Period/War film. And the fucked up thing is, it works.
In my opinion, AOD is the best film Raimi has ever done. And all his now classic directorial traits, amassed from a decade in film, make appearances: The whip pan, the inanimate object POVs, the extreme kinetic zooms, the reversed shots, the large-breasted windswept beauties, Bruce Campbell, ‘The Classic’ yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, Ted Raimi, all of them present, accounted and in top form. The make-up, masks and creatures created by the now industry legends at KNB Studios, take a mix of Harryhausen and Savini-inspired special effects and make classic camp gold. Effects so clearly fake, but so intricately and lovingly created and used in such inspired and creative ways, I can’t help but marvel at their craftsmanship and heart. And when added to the hilariously slapstick screenplay, lead by cult super-hero and world-class BAMF, Bruce Campbell, the result is B-Action/Horror magic.
The film is so fast, witty and fun it transcends it’s forgettable bottom-shelf styling its dismal box-office receipts doomed it to, and has rightfully become one of the greatest camp-classic cult movies of all time. ARMY OF DARKNESS isn’t just worth watching, it’s worth owning and along with it: a framed poster, an Ash action figure and a replica wrist chainsaw (I myself am still working on that one…). So, if you haven’t seen it, or don’t own a copy, get off your Ash and go get some, baby.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Bruce Campbell is Ashley J. ‘Ash’ Williams, Housewares
Lord Arthur: “Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts!?”
Ash: “Nope. Just me, baby. Just me.”
Armed with his tattered shirt, modified chainsaw amputee attachment, a top-of-the-line sawed-off double-barreled 12-gauge Remington “BoomStick” and his infamous quick wit, Bruce Campbell’s Ash is one of the greatest BasAsses of all time.
– Kills Evil Dead with a sawed-off shotgun and chainsaw-hand.
– Gets hand fed by beautiful wenches.
– A master craftsman, he’s able to build complex mechanisms with bare minimum and primitive resources.
– Beds a woman after doing nothing but insulting her.
– Rides a horse and wears a cape.
– Able to chug boiling water.
– Turns his beat-up old car into a steam-powered death-machine.
– Invents gun powder.
– Trains and commands an army of men.
– Takes on the Army of Darkness.
– His only match—is himself.
– Good, bad. He’s the guy with the gun.
– And he might be a Chinese jet pilot.
[THE BODY COUNT: HUNDREDS]
Man, I always end up writing the pieces with undead in them. Fuck. OK, so, counting the only ONE death per Deadite, and combining the total to the dead humans, I would estimate the body count to be upwards of 250-300. As this movie is clearly about an entire ARMY of the dead, fighting and killing an army of humans, it gets far too crazy for me to keep an accurate count. I wish I had more time to do this, but even if I did, I’d probably just end up using it to masturbate and play video games anyways, sorry.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & RE-DEATH]
Good Ash vs. Bad Ash
The ultimate showdown. Spears, swords, torches and a catapult with a giant sack of gunpowder, what a fight. Traversing three levels of a keep and involving more blows and cheap shots than a cat-fight, this end-of-the-film battle truly delivers the goods. I don’t want to spoil it by recounting scene-by-scene, so I’ll just leave it at that.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Bruce Campbell is a pretty good looking dude and spends the first 20 or so minutes in his tattered ED2 work shirt, which lackadaisically displays his nip-nip. But outside of that, there isn’t anything else I really have to go on. The embrace of the warring human factions, Eric the Red and Lord Arthur, at the end definitely has some subtext, but it’s over so fast that no real overt homosexuality lingers.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Sheila: “But what of the things that we’ve shared? What of all the sweet words that you spoke in private!?”
Ash: “Ah, well—peh, uh-peh… Well that’s just what we call “pillow-talk”, baby. Heh, that’s all.”
Ash is a pimp. Taking full advantage of his enigmatic presence and ass-kicking skills, he takes pleasure in treating the local “primate” women like garbage, even going so far as to insult a maiden that sows a cape for him by saying, “Good, I could use a horse blanket.” The girl, Sheila, does slap him, so she isn’t completely without self-respect, but a couple seconds later Ash strong-arms her and orders her to give him some “sugar”. And she does. Bow-Chicka-Wow-Wow!
Furthering her shame, Sheila is later kidnapped and turned into a Deadite after being forced to “give sugar” once again to Bad Ash. And for seemingly no reason at all, other than for gratuity, another unknown slave girl is dragged before the camera, sans top, by a skeleton captor. Why she was there and what happened to her, nobody knows.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
Ash Gives The Townsfolk Some Consumer Consoling
After being sent back in time, captured, put in a mobile stockade, thrown down a pit, forced to face not one, but two Deadites and barely escaping the pit’s enclosing spiked walls, Ash is understandably a little on edge…
[flashvideo filename=videos/AOD.avi.FLV /]
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“Hail to the King, baby.”
[THE CHECKLIST: 17 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[X] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice
Army Of Darkness (1992) © Dino De Laurentiis Communications and Universal Home Entertainment