am Raimi's "Army of Darkness" (aka "Evil
Dead 3 ", aka "Bruce Campbell vs. Army of the Dead"), is a
low-budget film with a big budget. What that means is, despite having a big
budget and guaranteed international release, "Army of Darkness" is
approached by co-writer/director Sam Raimi ("Spiderman")
as if he was still filming on the weekends with a cast made up of his buddies.
The result is a cheesy film that will probably only interest people who adores
the "Evil Dead" series. It's a good thing then that I love this
Here's the setup: Ash (Bruce Campbell) is sent through a
"time tunnel" after he defeats evil creatures called
"deadites" at a remote cabin. The deadites are essentially zombies
with kung fu skills and pizza for face. Ash ends up in a medieval period (think
sword and sorcery) where the people, led by their king (Marcus Gilbert), are
fighting off more deadites. It seems the whole country is plague with the dead
things, and only Ash, with his modern weapons (one of his hand is molded to a
chainsaw and a shotgun with an endless supply of bullets – don't ask) can save
the day! Groovy!
First of all, "Army of Darkness" is as goofy and
silly as they come. Writers Sam and Ivan Raimi, with a lot of input from star
Bruce Campbell, is intent on making things as silly as possible. No one could
watch this film and take it seriously, and that seems to be the whole point.
Besides a litany of Three Stooges-like gags, there's references to the last two
film in the series (the original "Evil Dead" and its bigger budgeted
sequel, "Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn", which is essentially a remake of
the original). Anyone who has seen either of the last two films in the franchise
will get the recurring motifs (the sun going down, the quick zoom shots). It's
almost ironic in a way because Raimi and Campbell are really doing homage to
their own movies!
Besides having to fight off the evil (but not terribly
scary) deadites, Ash has to get over his own cowardice. You see, despite having
gone through two rounds with the deadites and have already cut, maim, and
shotgunned numerous loved ones, girlfriends, and strangers (since that's the
only way you can be really sure of killing a deadite, by bodily
dismemberment), Ash is still something of a, well, dork. He's brave when he has
to be, but he's mostly an average Joe with moments of heroism – but more
moments lacking said heroism. In a word, the guy is just average – that
is, until it's time to kick deadite butt.
There's a romantic interest in Embeth Davidtz ("13
Ghosts"), who gets possessed by the deadites, but most of the film is
really watching Ash getting into one jam after another. They include fighting 6
tiny versions of himself, an evil Ash, and an army of skeleton deadites! While
each jam he gets into seems hopelessly above his head, he keeps coming out alive
– just barely! "Army of Darkness" is a swinging good time – that
is, if you like this kind of thing.
The "Official Bootleg Version" is an oddly titled
version of the movie that includes about 16 minutes of extra footage not shown
in the original theatrical release, including an alternate ending that the
studio found too "gloomy." The re-included scenes include longer
versions of the windmill scene, a love scene between Ash and Sheila (Davidtz),
and more hilarity that was cut out of the original. If all of that isn't enough,
the running commentary by Campbell and Raimi is a hoot.