Friday, July 01, 2011

Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness
More of a comedy than a horror film, Army of Darkness is an oddity that has polarized many of the fans of the original two Evil Dead movies. The first Evil Dead film was as close you could get to being a pure horror film. There were a few light or twisted moments of comedy, but it was a horror film. The second film was still very much a horror movie, but most of the horror had a heavy serving of tongue-in-cheek comedy. It was screwy, but funny as the “camp” factor had been turned not-quite-up to 11. Army of Darkness finally came out, five years later, it was much more of an action-adventure comedy than it was a horror film. Matter-of-fact, I didn't actually find this movie all that scary at all.

The story picks up directly after the second Evil Dead film, though there is no pressing need to watch the first two films before this one - I didn't the first time and quite a few times after that - as the film stands completely on its own.

Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, is a poor soul who has traveled back in time from the late 1980s and is now trapped in the 14th century. His only hope to return home is the book of the dead, the Necronomicon. Of course he is the only person who can go after it, and it's definitely in the most dangerous part of the entire world. After accidentally unleashing the forces of Hell, Ash must battle to save humanity and get back home.

This film is in no way historically accurate at all, and I'm not simply talking about how there is walking dead in the 14th century, but that the places and locations don't seem to fit any particular area of the world. One of the two endings of the film produces an even more confusing situation as to where the heck they're supposed to be. So I ignore it, and treat the locations much the way that I would treat one of the Conan the Barbarian films, in that it takes place in undefined "Eurasian" location.

The movie itself is fun and campy, but it does suffer a bit. Director Sam Raimi is certainly not the best director out there. The Spider-man films were schlocky, but not really in an enjoyable way after-the-fact. Decent, but one wonders how anyone could have said that those were the best comic book films ever made, especially after seeing how great they can actually be from films such as Iron Man. Raimi productions are produced with what I like to call that silly "New Zealand Camp Factor." I personally think he does best with this kind of material and Bruce Campbell certainly is one of the best actors that works with him. Campbell knows how to chew the scenery and make a production fun.

If you want a film to laugh about and enjoy, Army of Darkness is a film to check out. I prefer the directors cut of the film over the theatrical version, but both are great (though, you'll miss a great depressing ending if you go for the theatrical version).

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