Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead franchise after The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. It basically starts off where Evil Dead finishes. Not exactly, though. It’s more like someone told another person how Evil Dead II ended while they were drunk and then the other person made the sequel. It’s pretty close but he got a few details wrong. It’s not quite as extreme as how Evil Dead II started. That basically summarized the first movie and removed a lot of the characters and story.
Of the three Evil Dead movies, I think Army of the Darkness is the least likely candidate to be included in the Zombie Movie category. The dead do rise but they are skeletons. There is a skeleton army. If Army of Darkness was a standalone movie I don’t think I would be doing an Army of Darkness review. But as it is the third movie in the Evil Dead franchise, I felt it should be here. I will probably post about the TV show, Ash vs Evil Dead too if I ever get around to watching it.
Army of Darkness Review
As mentioned above, Army of Darkness is the sequel to Evil Dead II with Bruce Campbell reprising his role as Ash Williams. Bridget Fonda plays his girlfriend Linda briefly at the beginning of the movie. Incidentally, she’s the third actress to play Linda. The Evil Dead was a straight-up comedy and Evil Dead II was played for laughs as a comedy horror but Army of Darkness combines three genres; horror, comedy, and fantasy. I think that crossing three genres weakened the power of the movie in all of them. It’s not a scary horror movie, it’s not an intriguing fantasy and it’s not all that funny. Some people might have really enjoyed the mishmash but I don’t think it worked that well.
At the end of Evil Dead II and the beginning of Army of Darkness, Ash Williams gets sucked into some type of time vortex and lands in the 1300’s. He’s not naked like the Terminator. In fact, he was able to hold onto his chainsaw arm and boomstick. His car was also sent back in time. The movie starts off with Ash in chains and then a quick recap of what had happened in the previous two movies as told by Ash, himself. He spends the movie trying to get back to his own time.
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It’s in Army of Darkness that Ash really changes into the confident macho man that we imagine him as always being. He’s cocky and a bit of an idiot. It’s strange when you think about it really because between the first movie and the third movie in the series, only one day has passed. In real time, though, 11 years had passed.
Army of Darkness is a 1992 movie and this is 2016. The development in all aspects of special effects has been phenomenal and it’s hard not to keep this in mind when watching the very dated special effects of Army of Darkness. So, while compared to the previous movies in the trilogy it had a much bigger budget and even better special effects, it doesn’t really matter to the modern viewer. I preferred the more basic special effects in the Evil Dead. I think Evil Dead went too far because they were playing it for laughs and with Army of Darkness, they were trying something on a much more ambitious scale. At the time is was probably fantastic but 24 years later, not so much.
If you are a fan of Ash vs Evil Dead, you should probably watch these movies to find out where Ash Williams came from because due to legal issues with Universal, the events from Army of Darkness can not specifically be mentioned on the show. Or if you enjoy B-movies in general, then this should definitely be on your list. Otherwise, it’s just a dated old mixed-genre movie.
Different versions of the Army of Darkness
Apparently there are four different versions of the movie. A 96-minute Director’s Cut, an 81-minute U.S. Theatrical Version, an 88-minute International edit, and an 88-minute U.S. Television version. The Director’s Cut runs at 96 minutes compared to the theatrical 81 minutes, and includes numerous new scenes and extensions.