Part 1: The Evil Dead
Part 2: Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn
♆♆♆- I have already seen this movie.
The third and final leg of Ash’s adventure, Army of Darkness, sees him (and his car) being transported back in time to the year 1300 AD. He is immediately discovered by a battalion of knights and brought as a prisoner to their castle. After proving he is not an enemy, the community relies on Ash and his knowledge of technology to stop the advances of the ancient evil dead. The 1992 film stars Bruce Campbell yet again, alongside Embeth Davidtz (Schindler’s List) in her first big American movie role.
Once again, this sequel picks up right where we last left Ash. This time there is even less of a recap, so it would help to have at least seen the second film. Right off the bat, it’s clear that Ash doesn’t fit in well with the primitive people. His mouth gets him into trouble quickly and he is sentenced to a grim fate. However, when he prevails from his death sentence and proves he can help them retrieve the Necronomicon, they promise to send him back to his own time.
It is great to see Ash in another setting than a single cabin. His jabs at how barbaric the people of the castle are sit comically contrasting next to his incompetence when it comes to remembering three little words. He botches the recovery of the book of the dead and all hell breaks loose. He returns to the castle to lead the human army against the undead, despite the town wizard offering to fulfill his part of the bargain and send Ash home.
Army of Darkness is great at the start and then slowly devolves into a bit of colorlessness by the end. The plot goes from Ash fighting off Deadites in a pit with a chainsaw to eventually an underwhelming sword fight straight out of Robin Hood lore. Although the change of scenery is nice, maybe the Medieval timeline was the wrong choice. I seem to have a specific taste where putting anything from the present too far in the past becomes unpalatable to me. I wanted less swords and tights and more chainsaw and sawed off shotgun! Despite Ash being known for those particular weapons, they are only in his arsenal for a disappointingly brief period of time.
This film is by far the most ridiculous of the three when it comes to comedic gags. Some scenes lay it on too thick and it makes me wonder how Sam Raimi could let things get that hokey. As I stated before in previous reviews, I enjoy the laughs now and then, but I’m ultimately here for the horror. I think maybe Raimi thought he needed to turn up the hilarity even more than he did with Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn just to top it. Funny little gnomes resembling Ash only entertain so far when the audience is expecting to see a bunch of heads being lopped off.
There is, like with any movie featuring knights in armor, a huge battle at the end. This part of the film was good and bad for different reasons. I liked seeing all of the skeletal fiends being blown to smithereens by catapults. There was a lot of action on a wide scale. I enjoyed sharing Ash’s sense of victory and achievement. Yet, I didn’t like how little concern was used when masking the authenticity of the skeletons. It was clear they were puppets and the filmmakers didn’t seem to care how blatantly obvious it was. I already mentioned the sword fight, but what made it worse was an extremely corny (albeit gruesome looking) villain opposing Ash.
Originally, this is the movie Sam Raimi wanted to make for Evil Dead II, but his budget restricted him. This trilogy is a testament to the fact that a bigger budget doesn’t make a better movie. I understand Raimi finally got his wish and made the movie he wanted to make, but I think he ran a little too far with it. In the case of the series, the good outweighs the bad (for a change) and I would still tell you to see this trilogy in its entirety for yourself. You should definitely watch these movies with an open mind (like you should any movie, actually) regardless of my reviews. They are horror classics and played an important role in the shaping of the genre’s history, for better or worse.
4 mini clones of Ash out of 5
Well, that’s it. The final nail is in the coffin. The jig is up. The spotted hen is flying over Mount Rushmore, as they say. October has left us until next year and unfortunately so has the MASSACRE MARATHON. I hope deep down in my twisted, stale excuse for a heart that you enjoyed riding the wave of blood as much as The Manster did. It’s a bitter-sweet feeling. On one hand, I don’t have to write a new review every single night on a deadline. On the other stump, I’ll have an empty spot in my gut that can only be full again when next season shambles around. But don’t fret! There will be plenty of reviews popping up every now and then throughout the year, even non-horror ones (if you can tolerate it)! The Manster now plans to keep this bitch runnin’ year round. Thank you for your views, likes, comments, shares and any contribution, in any small shape or form, to making The Manster one step closer to world domination. He greatly appreciates it! See you in your nightmares…