Review No. 490
NOTE: This review regards the director’s cut.
“Army of Darkness” forgot its weapons.
DIRECTED BY SAM RAIMI. PRODUCED BY ROBERT TAPERT. WRITTEN BY SAM RAIMI AND IVAN RAIMI. STARRING BRUCE CAMPBELL (ASH WILLIAMS) AND EMBETH DAVIDTZ (SHEILA). ALSO STARRING MARCUS GILBERT, IAN ABERCROMBIE, RICHARD GROVE, TIMOTHY PATRICK QUILL, MICHAEL EARL REID, BRIDGET FONDA, PATRICIA TALLMAN, TED RAIMI, ANGELA FEATHERSTONE, NOAH GILLESPIE. DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL PICTURES ON FEBRUARY 19, 1993. PRODUCED IN ENGLISH BY THE UNITED STATES. DIRECTOR’S CUT RUNS 1 HOUR, 33 MINUTES; THEATRICAL CUT RUNS 1 HOUR, 29 MINUTES. INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES, DUE TO PROFANITY, SEXUAL SITUATIONS, AND INTENSE VIOLENCE.
ARMY OF DARKNESS WAS WATCHED ON MAY 31, 2013.
“Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.” –Ash (Bruce Campbell)
Try and imagine what it would be like if Wes Craven suddenly made a Nightmare on Elm Street movie that put Freddy Krueger in a different persona. I mean a much different persona. For a good handful of movies, he’s a janitor who molests children, dies, and comes back to life to haunt the offspring of those who killed him. And now, all of a sudden, he’s a janitor with a smile that can turn a bad day around. Particularly for those who have seen the movie, it’s pretty difficult to imagine. If you think of such an ineffable change in terms of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, it’s almost impressive how much Army of Darkness changes the structure built in the first two movies. Of course, it’s so disappointing, you can’t afford to be impressed.
Army of Darkness started off on a good note. The cliffhanger ending in Evil Dead II was more than promising. Okay, so Ash (Bruce Campbell), his chainsaw, and his car have all been sucked into a tornado-like force of evil, which lands them in the Medieval Ages. So now the idea is that Ash wants his hands on the ancient Necronomicon (the Book of the Dead) so that he can destroy it and prevent every disaster that happened as a result of that cursed book. It sounds like something that would bring the bizarreness of the entire trilogy over the top and to a satisfying conclusion, but in all actuality, it’s far from that.
Army of Darkness has one moment that evokes its two older brothers. We see a slave thrown into a well of sorts…pause…a geyser of blood. The sort of cheap, dark, death-centric comedy that we’re used to has returned! But note that this scene comes within the first five minutes. The rest is a mess. We have violence, but none of the gratuitous gore that made the first two so much fun. We have camp, too. That would be good, if only this was poking fun at the horror genre. It’s poking fun at basically every “King Arthur” story the way Monty Python did in 1975. The reason it fails is no one from that classic troupe is here to make the poor writing remotely funny.
Watching the Evil Dead trilogy is a bit like watching The Wizard of Oz, backwards. The first and second entry bring us to a place akin to Oz and Munchkinland. There’s a feeling of bizarreness and fear the whole time, but all that is subverted by the welcoming, upbeat, carefree attitude around us. It takes death to heart with gruesome hilarity. Then there’s a twister. Uh-oh. Now we’re back at Auntie Em’s for an hour and a half. As I watched Army of Darkness, I kept hearing Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow”. I was yearning for the much-better movie that it deserved to be.
STAY TUNED FOR MY “GANGS OF NEW YORK” REVIEW @ 4:30