Army of Darkness Movie Review
Having travelled back to medieval times, it is up to Ash to reconcile two warring factions & fight against the Deadite army! But how will he get back to his own time?
Genre: Comedy / Fantasy /Horror
Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Richard Grove, Ian Abercrombie, Michael Earl Reid, Bill Moseley & Bridget Fonda.
Run Time: 81 min.
US Release: 19 February 1993
UK Release: 11 June 1993
German Release: 22 April 1993
Welcome to the third round of my Evil Dead review series. If you read my last posts, you’ll know that I am currently analysing all original Raimi flicks, plus the remake, before reviewing the first season of Ash vs Evil Dead. While I wasn’t a big fan of the director's first supernatural shocker, I enjoyed the sequel and I am also fond of this one! Originally, Raimi’s idea for Ash’s travel through time was meant for the second instalment. As we all know now, that never happened, due to the low-budget funding he obtained. With Evil Dead II having made enough money, Dino de Laurentiis was willing to finance a third picture.
— WARNING, THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! —
Once again, the opening sequence recaps a quick three-minute altered version of the events that transpired in Dead by Dawn, with Linda being reprised once more by a different actress (Bridget Fonda). Instead of integrating Annie or her father, it alters the backstory, skipping through the whole anthropologic nature of it, yet giving Ash a new backstory as an S-Mart salesperson.
From there on, we “practically” start where Dead by Dawn left audiences in 1987, with Ash being transported back to the 12th Century, in an undisclosed location, which is rumoured to be England. Ash ends up entangled in a feud between Lord Arthur’s army and Duke Henry’s men. Intending on proving that he is just out to get back to his timeline, Ash kills a Deadite in front of a crowd, then is tasked to retrieve the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis from an evil-spirited forest. Bodging the retrieval, Ash involuntarily creates an evil copy of himself, who unites the Deadites as the Army of Darkness.
The story was penned once again by Raimi himself, this time working together with his brother Ivan. The idea of time travel was initially one that the director/writer had envisioned for the first sequel, but the lower budget obtained did not suffice for the original plan. After the financial success of Evil Dead II, Dino De Laurentiis finally agreed to back Raimi’s mediaeval project. The screenplay was developed during pre-production of Darkman, and after finishing filming, the brothers refined the script in more detail.
Compared to the previous instalments in the franchise, Army of Darkness is first and foremost a comedy, with horror entities embedded in it. The idea to finally take the main character’s adventure against evil out of the cabin was a smart move, as even the first three minutes of the recap started to feel repetitive. Major inspirations for the plot were taken from Gulliver’s Travels, heroic fantasy adventures such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, or Conan the Barbarian, as well as using the literary work “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain.
Ash’s personality went once again through some changes, becoming more macho. He now seems to be an expert in hand-to-hand combat, kicks and rifle shooting. Though a little dull in intellect, his street smarts make up for most of his wins against the Deadites. Bruce Campbell was once again brilliant in this role, opening up more than ever. Embeth Davidtz is replacing the character of Linda, as Ash’s new love interest, though not much else is. Sheila is simple, just like one-dimensional.
The sped-up first-person point of view of the demons is reused for the first half of the flick, still being an effective plus creepy technique, to let the unknown chase a character. This was changed in the latter half, as stop-motion animation was used to let the dead come to life. Confrontations between real people and the animated dead look good, thanks to filming on an Introvision stage. Makeup, prosthetics, as well as artificial cuts, look realistic.
Dany Elfman, who co-worked with Raimi on his superhero flick Darkman, composed the “March of Death” for the invasion of the Deadite army. The melody contained a typical mediaeval orchestra, mixed in with some horror elements. Joseph LoDuca returned to compose the rest of the score.
Verdict: Army of Darkness, also known as Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness, is the third movie in the horror-comedy film series. With Scott Spiegel unable to return to co-script the story, Sam Raimi turned to his brother Ivan as co-writer. This had the result of amping up the humour while scaling down the elements of terror. These comical effects were also represented in a couple of goofy effects. The cinematography, however, is most effectively good, even if the stop-motion animation can look at times a little outdated. Ash’s character was remodelled, making him an over-the-top, karate-chopping, one-lining action star. Bruce Campbell gave a great portrayal. This third instalment deserves a 7.5 out of 10.
My review for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead will be out tomorrow, with the review for the remake following this month. Thanks for reading & if you like it share it!