Midnight Movie: ‘Army of Darkness’

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Army of Darkness, the 1992 film from Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spiderman), sees its action hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) transported back to medieval times to join forces with Lord Arthur and his men in order to battle the spirit associated with an ancient book called Necronomicon. It is the same faceless, supernatural essence he opposed in the first two Evil Dead films and which sent him back through time at the end of Evil Dead 2. It is a very fun film that never takes itself too seriously and does not expect the audience to either. The direction by Raimi is very good, once again utilizing the camera as a P.O.V. shot for the pursuing evil essence, which creates action and suspense throughout the film.

Like the first two films in the series, Army of Darkness is full of the same campy gore and hilarious one-liners that made the first two films beloved cult classics (“Gimme some sugar, baby”; “Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.”; “Keep your damn filthy bones outta my mouth”). It steps up in the comedy department with even more over-the-top scenes such as Ash fighting several miniature mirror replicas of himself and skeleton fingers attempting to poke his eyes, which he responds to by blocking with his hand and sticking out his tongue.

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There is a touch of romance added when Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) falls for Ash at the sight of his futuristic get-up and chainsaw arm. But when Ash fails to recite an incantation word for word, an army of the dead rise from the ground and turn her into one of their own with plans to destroy everything in their path. Ash must bring the book back to the Wiseman (Ian Abercrombie) and help Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert) and his men defeat the army of the dead before he can be transported back to modern times.

The plot is poorly thought out and really makes no sense, but it does not need to. All the film wants you to know is that Ash is the hero and there are some very terrifying zombie creatures on the loose that need to be killed. The special effects look awesome in a low-budget sort of way that you would expect from a B-movie horror-comedy and there is some more great use of stop-motion that was so disgustingly impressive in the first film.

It is certainly not Bergman or Billy Wilder and sometimes that is a good thing; it has no aspirations to be. It knows what exactly what it is and shows great execution in what it is aiming for. A great late-night film to see after a few beers and with a group of friends, Army of Darkness proves to be a cult classic just as good as the first two Evil Dead films and worthy of repeated midnight screenings.

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