Comedy Action
Army of Darkness
.
Dir: Sam Raimi
Star: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 1993
Format: DVD R1
'

Well, hello Mr fancy pants.

This film is the third part in the Evil Dead trilogy. At the end of the Evil Dead 2 Ash (Bruce Campbell) was left with a chainsaw instead of a hand, a shotgun, and a battered old car as he was whisked through a time warp to medieval England. His bad day just gets worse when he is captured by the local king and sent on a quest to retrieve the Necronomicon (yes the book of the dead...again) which can rid the land of deadites and also return him to his own time. Unfortunately he gets to incantation wrong and inadvertently raises an army of the dead, lead by an evil version of himself. Faced with this he has enough time to get some sugar before kicking some Deadite butt.

Groovy!

The Evil Dead series are the films that made Sam Raimi, and that form some of his best work. The inventive use of minimal budgets, clever yet cheap special effects, and original camera shots are just some of the features that made these films unique. The Army of Darkness follows on directly after the Evil Dead 2, however it is entirely a different sort of film. It is a sort of action, comedy, horror (in that order) rather than the more straightforward horror with comedy elements of the earlier movies. This strange blend of genres works amazingly well for a number of reasons.

This is my boom stick.

The first reason is the fact that Raimi regular Bruce Campbell returns in the role of Ash. Equally at home with the action \ horror and comedy parts of the role he is a very versatile actor capable of such a physically demanding part. Its just as well that he is on form, as he has to carry the film. There are very few other characters and most of the on screen time is concentrated on Ash. This brave move wouldn't have worked if the character of Ash was poor, but what we are given are the ultimate egotist who may not always be correct (politically or otherwise) yet always manages to be cool.

Hail to the king baby.

The next reason is the inventive direction of Sam Raimi. Crazy camera angles and unusual points of view are the name of the day. The shot of an arrow chasing down its target or an unseen entity chasing Ash though the woods are fine examples of how these creative camera techniques are effectively used. The action scenes are really enhanced by the direction, and it even helps to develop the character of Ash. The area in which the direction truly excels is in the script's humour. Obviously Marx brothers inspired site gags proliferate and the direction ensures that not one is missed.

I'm not that good.

The special effects are a real mixed bag. Wildly inventive the effects squeeze ever penny out of the films limited budget. A variety of techniques are used to animate the skeleton army of the dead, from puppets, to the human skeleton suits, all the way to Ray Harryhausen inspired stop motion effects not a trick is missed. Unfortunately the dawn of CGI has made many of these effects seem extremely dated. They do lend a certain charm to the film and even a degree of comedy, but at the end of the day some now look extremely poor.

Give me some sugar baby.

I must admit this is one of my all time favourite films. It is very entertaining, in places very funny, and has one of the best movie characters ever invented (hell he inspired more first person shooter video games than any one else). Great one liners, and a fine performance for the underused Bruce Campbell is central to the film. This is around this is moulded some brilliantly original direction from Sam Raimi at the top of his game. The effects and budget do let the film down and it is entirely possible that not everyone will enjoy this sort of thing, but if you liked the Evil Dead 2 then you will love this.

Go ahead and run. Run home and cry to mama.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The discs being reviewed are from the limited edition box set and contain two versions of the film. The original cinema release and the 15 minute longer directors cut. The directors cut is far superior adding back in some funny scenes (especially in the windmill section). There is also two different endings. The future ending used in the directors cut leaves thing wide open for a sequel. However the cinema release ending is far more cool. You pay your money, you make your choice.

DVD
DISC 1
Picture 1.66:1 Clear and artifact free but showing some grain
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital unremarkable sound mix.
Features The original cinema release
The Men Behind the Army documentary (18 mins) which is very similar to the documentary on the Evil Dead 2 disc
Cast & Crew Biographies for Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell
The alernative ending
Trailer
About 20 creature concept stills
Animated menus
DISC 2
Picture 1.66:1 Anamorphic Terrible, variable image quality
Audio Sterio Clear but only Sterio
Features The Directors cut of the film with an extra 15 minutes and the alternative ending in place
Commentary by Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi
On screen storyboard comparison
4 thankfully deleted scenes of poor video quality
Rather cheap looking Animated menus
Verdict This is the limited edition two disc set which is now very difficult to get, however this said it is still not that good. Poor picture and sound on the Directors cut disc really let things down. Definitelly the best version available, but still far from definitive.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home