Army of Darkness (1992)
“This.. is my BOOM stick!”
This weekend, we are taking a break from the obscure, the low-budget and the Coroner. As in, I’m taking over for a few days and I’m going to turn the focus of this daily feature toward my favorite sub-genre: horror comedy. And while Robert Fure did write about the entire Evil Dead franchise in one post last year, I just cannot let such aggression stand. These movies deserve their own posts. So lets do this…
Synopsis: Ash (Bruce Campbell) has been through some serious shit. He’s had to fight off a demon that turned his girlfriend and several friends into Deadites in Evil Dead, then he had to do it again for another night, this time with 4 strangers in Evil Dead II, only to see all of his hard work get sucked through a dimensional portal, plopping him down in the middle ages. Now he’s at it again, with a chainsaw for a hand and a shotgun in the other, ready to get medieval on some undead asses in this hilarious, ridiculous and all-out explosion of awesome.
Killer Scene: Unlike the previous Evil Dead films, Army of Darkness isn’t quite as intimate with the kills and the gore. Instead, director Sam Raimi and crew decided to make an epic war film with constant injection of ‘the weird’ for good measure. That said, there is one particularly wicked set of kills at the hand (or spinning blades) of Ash’s modified 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88. Yep, a steam-punk Olds with huge spinning blades on it. What more could you want?
Violence: From the hand-to-hand battle inside the pit of despair that leads off the film to the larger-than-life (and equally ridiculous) final battle sequence, there is plenty of violence. In contrast to its predecessors though, AoD often sacrifices the bloody violence for that which makes a better gag. But it works, as this movie isn’t just about violence, its about absurd violence.
Sex: Finally, after seeing tree-rape in the first film and almost nothing in the second film, Ash gets some action, courtesy of Embeth Davidtz. And even though the fine lady doesn’t show us all that she’s working with, she’s still easy on the eyes. As well, there is a moment when she is taken prisoner by the head Deadite (also played by Bruce Campbell), a line of naked women are dragged across the screen almost inexplicably. Except for the fact that they’re about to be raped by the Deadites. Hot.
Scares: Unlike the previous two Dead films, Army of Darkness is a lot softer in the scares department. It evokes the weird more often than the frightening, but it does manage to get a little creepy here and there. Overall, this film is the more comedy than horror, but achieves both in acceptable fashion.
Final Thoughts: Army of Darkness might not be the perfect horror movie, nor is it the perfect comedy, but it works pretty damn well as a horror-comedy. Bruce Campbell once again gives Ash the bravado and insanity that we’re used to, while adding a new level of snarkiness. His performance(s) are fun, and they drive the overall absurdity that Sam Raimi has built into this movie, absurdity that plays perfect fan service to the Evil Dead loyalists around the world. There’s a reason they call it a ‘cult classic,’ because after you see it once, you just can’t not see it again. So see it again, if you have already. If you haven’t… shame on you.