Trade in-your-face horror and over-the-top gore for a perfect blend of comedy, swash-buckling adventure, clever satire and a pinch of the macabre and here is what comes out of the oven.
Director Sam Raimi’s third foray into his comically grotesque cult saga The Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness succeeds like our valiant hero closing a sale at S-Mart. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s an adventure of epic proportions! Well, not really epic, but that’s what Ash would like you to believe anyway.
Army of Darkness, once again teaming director Sam Raimi and offbeat anti-hero Bruce Campbell, picks up where The Evil Dead 2 left off; Ash has been sucked through the cosmos via a dark portal and has found himself in the dark ages. At first everything is peaches and cream. Ash is regarded as a powerful knight, whose futuristic weaponry is met with awe and amazement. Soon though, Ash learns that in order to get back to his own time he must retrieve the Necronomicon, the book of the dead, for the resident sorcerer. And this is when all hell breaks loose. Literally. Upon Ash’s arrival in the graveyard where the book is waiting, he forgets the chant the sorcerer told him he must use in order to take the book from it’s resting place without awakening the army of darkness. C’est la vie. The bumbling Ash mumbles the words incorrectly, then announces aloud to unseen ears “ Okay then” in an attempt to convince himself that everything is kosher. The Deadites begin to arise thus delaying Ash’s return home and calling him into battle once more against the forces of evil.
While the plot could have been slightly more developed, the dialogue smacks a home run. And Bruce Campbell’s delivery of said dialogue is a grand slam. Although some shots in the picture, particularly the siege on the castle by the Deadite army, were obviously done by sub-par green screen work, you have to appreciate that Raimi chooses camera work wherever possible for most special effects shots instead of CGI.
Sam Raimi’s gift to cinema is his uncanny ability to establish perfect character development and that gift is more evident here than in any of Raimi’s earlier films. Mix that with underrated actor Bruce Campbell’s natural on-screen charisma and what you’ve got is a recipe for fun. Campbell’s portrayal of the buffoonish alpha-male Ash in Army of Darkness makes for nothing short of a good-old-fashioned jump out of your seat and cheer for the hero popcorn movie. My hat’s off to you, Sam Raimi. Before Spider-man 2, this was your boom-stick.