Army of Darkness (Sam Raimi, 1992, USA)

  While Army of Darkness is generally less well-regarded than the first two films in the Evil Dead franchise, it is nevertheless an enjoyable romp. It is clear that Army of Darkness is the film that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell wanted to make all along - Evil Dead and Evil Dead II were basically steps on the journey to get to making this film, even if they ended up revolutionizing the horror film and horror-comedy in the process. Made in the heels of Sam Raimi’s first major studio success with Darkman in 1990, Army nearly tripled the budget of Evil Dead II, bringing a large cast of extras, numerous special effects, and a distribution deal with Universal Pictures. Producer Dino De Laurentiis was also onboard again.

While Evil Dead could be described as a pure horror film, and Evil Dead II could be described as a horror-comedy, Army of Darkness is more appropriately considered a “comedy-horror”. The film includes many gags that would be appropriate to the Three Stooges - of whom Campbell and Raimi were big fans. The DNA of the film is also much closer to the adventures of Jason and the Argonauts and the Ray Harryhausen classics. The skeleton army, one of the highlights of Army, is directly inspired by the skeleton army of Jason and the Argonauts.

While Army of Darkness might not be as great as its two predecessors, it is still a very enjoyable film, with many laugh-out-loud moments. The finale, in which the demons from the medieval world intrude on Ash’s job at a local department store, is one of the highlights of the whole franchise. Campbell’s portrayal of Ash is the most fully realized here of all the films, and the one-liners (“Hail to the king, baby”) are all present. This is the Ash people know and love.



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