Army of Darkness is campy Medieval fun with a whole bunch of Deadites.
Army of Darkness is a supernatural fantasy horror comedy with the undead and the possessed. It’s the third installment of the Evil Dead franchise and a direct sequel to Evil Dead II (1987).
The story of Ash versus the Deadites continues… in the Dark Ages after Ash travels back in time through the vortex. There he faces even more Deadites, an army full of them, evil mini-Ashes a big evil Deadite twin and lots more supernatural forces that are out to get him. It’s a very fun dark fantasy horror film with a great epic adventure which only suits Ash.
After Ash travels back in time through the vortex he finds himself in 1300 between two battling armies. When they think he is the prophesied one who will rescue them from the evil demons, he has to play along to find his way back home.
He’s been sent out on a quest to find the Necronomicon, but Ash wouldn’t be Ash if he didn’t mess things up first. So accidentally he creates an army of the dead and an evil twin of himself to lead that army and who kidnaps lady Sheila to make her his Deadite bride. It’s up to Ash to save them all, (god help them all).
Why you should watch it
Every installment gets an even bigger story and background, more Deadites, more fun and in this sequel Ash is the bright-not-so-bright center of attention. We learn more about his character which isn’t all too heroic, or the brightest of the bunch even in the Dark Ages, but he really knows how to put on a show. And a fantastic hilarious show it is.
This third film is the funniest of them all, mostly due to Ash himself. The way he gets himself into trouble each and every time never gets old and there’s more slapstick humor than gory horror. Less guts and blood, but more absurd situations Ash finds himself stumbling into.
The practical effects are a joy to watch and if you look closely every Deadite in the army looks slightly different. Careful attention is paid to these effects as well as the cinematography and music which all takes us back to the beginning of the franchise. Although moving forward into the nineties its style is consistent and demonstrates a lot of love for the franchise.
Although this film is more distinct than its predecessors, the overall tone and feel of the film is very much the same. It’s a true sequel, but with some improvements, especially regarding Ash. His chainsaw hand becomes a robot hand, in the Dark Ages, yes that’s right. Some kind of magic. His car the Oldsmobile Delta 88 made it back with him as well as his shotgun a.k.a his boomstick.
With less nods to the original, but more so to the sequel/reboot/remake, this film is still very much its own story. Its relies completely on the campiness and silly humor and the fun adventure Ash is sent on to mess it all up with his own stupid behavior.
Though tough (ahem), stupid, selfish and a macho man, he transforms into a heroic endearing man you cannot but love. This is much more a film about Ash than about all the gory goodness. And that’s fine. It’s groovy.
My favorite part
When Ash gets attacked by his mini-me’s in the Mill it results in an absurd and hilarious scene. And from thereon it gets even weirder when a little Ash crawls up to his head and gets inside him to grow a second head and to split him in half to make two Ashes, our Ash and an evil Ash. It exceeds all silliness you have ever seen. And it’s a good fun time silliness. It’s never lame or cheesy, but camp, it’s silly on purpose and they know it and know how to make the most of it.
What I didn’t know when I first saw the movie, way way back, was that it has two different endings. In the original ending, the one I first saw, Ash returns to his own time by taking 6 drops of a potion. But he loses count and takes 7 drops, so he ends up in a dystopian future. But the production companies thought this ending was too grim, so they conjured up another one, where Ash is more mindful and takes the 6 drops as instructed. He then ends up in the store where he works, and boasts about his adventures. This is where we find him years and years later in the tv series Ash vs Evil Dead.
Fun factor: ★★★★★
Gore factor: ★★☆☆☆
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Read more about The Evil Dead:
- The Evil Dead (1981) review
- Evil Dead II (1987) review
- Evil Dead (2013) review
- Ash vs Evil Dead season 1 review
- Ash vs Evil Dead season 2 review
- Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 review
Cast and crew
Army of Darkness is directed and written by Sam Raimi and cowritten by Ivan Raimi. It stars Bruce Campbell (Ash), Embeth Davidtz (Sheila), Marcus Gilbert (Lord Arthur), Richard Grove (Duke Henry the Red), Ian Abercrombie (Wiseman) and Patricia Tallman (Possessed Witch).
Duration: 81 minutes. Music: Joseph LoDuca. Cinematography: Bill Pope. Edited by: Bob Murawski, Sam Raimi. Produced by: Rob Tapert. Production companies: Dino De Laurentiis Communications, Renaissance Pictures. Distributed by: Universal Pictures.