If you looked at my Evil Dead Month Rankings, you’ll notice that Army Of Darkness came in last. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love it! I recently watched the film again (which still loses me at that damn windmill scene) and the stuff that works for me works just as well as it ever did. So in the spirit of Evil Dead Month, I figured I’d catalogue what worked for me (like I did in my 5 Favorite Moments From Evil Dead 2 piece).
As I said in the rankings, “While Army Of Darkness regains its footing towards the end with its massive battle, it never fully learns how to make the medieval setting engage Ash in an interesting way beyond its initial “fish out of water” conceit. Again, I’m not slamming the movie. I’m just saying that what starts out as an “A+” effort eventually ends up as more of a “B-“.”
Let’s find out what those A+ scenes are! Head inside for my 5 Favorite Moments From ‘Army Of Darkness’!!!
THE OPENING VOICEOVER
“My name is Ash, and I’m a slave.” Such an economical way to get both the idea and tone of the film across. Taken on its own it’s not that impressive, but Campbell’s delivery and its placement RIGHT AT THE FRONT catches the audience off guard with its matter-of-fact frankness. I remember going to see the film in theaters, unaware that it was a sequel, and being immediately thrown off balance and engaged.
FROM “WELL HELLO, MR. FANCYPANTS” TO “THIS IS MY BOOMSTICK!”
This one sort of explains itself. An imperfect film that’s light on actual horror, Army Of Darkness lives or dies on its humor. Here, it lives. Of course the delivery is key, but it reads well enough regardless. “I am Henry the Red. Duke of Shale, Lord of the Northlands and leader of its peoples” “Well hello, Mr. Fancypants. Well, I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things, right now – Jack and sh*t. And Jack left town.” This also falls closely in line with the pit deadite scene, another bonus with geysers of blood and the semi-aquatic demon. It also leads into the “This is my boomstick” scene – which is arguably the film’s most memorable quote. Basically this 10 minute or so stretch of film is Army Of Darkness at its’ strongest.
ASH BEING PAMPERED
You may notice that many of these entries occur during the first act, which is easily the strongest part of the movie for me. The film loses me at the windmill, but then I get reinvested afterwards for the main battle. This is such a small moment, but I love the image of the boorish hero being fed grapes and turkey leg by beautiful women. In the interest of being able to include stuff from later in the film here too, I’ll go ahead and file “Give me some sugar, baby” under this moment. After all, that’s Ash being pampered in another way.
FORGETTING THE WORDS…
Much more than the insufferable windmill scene, this is Ash at his core. A flawed, arrogant, ineffectual hero who lies to the people he’s promised to protect about the efficacy of his efforts. And we love him for it anyway! “Klaatu Barada N… Necktie… Neckturn… Nickel… It’s an “N” word, it’s definitely an “N” word!” This being after he defiantly asserted that he would need no help whatsoever in reciting the words.
BACK TO S-MART
While the climactic battle at the castle is a lot of fun, it also thrives on jokes the film already essentially made in the 1st act. The anachronistic use of the Oldsmobile as a battle instrument just doesn’t work as well for me as the Knights trying to stab it at the beginning of the film. But the return to S-Mart is a breath of fresh air. Never mind the fact that his coworkers seem to not be impressed by his steel hand, Ash finally gets a chance to prove himself on his home turf when he defeats a particularly acrobatic deadite and gets himself a new girl. “Hail to the king, Baby“.