Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Army of Darkness (1992)

Bruce Campbell's time-traveling chin leaves a path of destruction and broken hearts.

Some of you might try point out some hypocrisy in my reviews. How can a movie like Army of Darkness, arguably one of the cheesiest, bad movies ever made, get a score so high? It all comes down to a simple fact; Army of Darkness is exactly what it was meant to be. No one working on the film went into it thinking they were making anything other than the ultimate camp-fest and it was 100% successful in completing it's goal.

Army of Darkness is the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy and, arguably, the least loved. After Ash, Bruce Campbell defeats his evil hand and tentacle rape happy demons he is sucked into a time warp and dropped in the middle of a Ben-Hur spoof. With his chainsaw-hand and chiseled chin, he must defeat the evil skeleton army of darkness while simultaneously plowing every wench 14th-century, fantasy England has. The film had the largest budget of any of the other Evil Dead films, which it barely made back at the box-office even with generally positive critical opinions. The film has since developed an extremely solid cult following, just like the previous two movies in the trilogy, and thrives mostly because of that status.

Few film-makers display the kind of ingenuity Sam Raimi shows with the Evil Dead trilogy. On a shoe-string budget, he creates really fantastic movie watching experiences and Army of Darkness is a great example of what he can do. Somewhere between a Three Stooges tribute film and a campy horror flick, Army of Darkness is just a blast to to watch. It relies on sight gags, physical humor and outrageous one-liners a little bit more than the previous two Evil Dead movies, but Bruce Campbell sells the comedy wonderfully. Yeah, the Ash shtick is a little over-the-top, but it all comes down to commitment. Campbell commits 100% to the obnoxious nature of the character, the dialog and slap-stick humor, and it results in a fantastically silly adventure. Your not going to get quality story or characters out of this movie, but what you do get is a great, if highly campy, movie watching experience.

Army of Darkness competes heavily with another film I recently reviewed, Peter Jackson's Braindead, for the best campy horror adventure out there. Both movies have their distinctive traits and both represent the pinnacle of the genre. Army of Darkness is memorable because of Bruce Campbell's work as Ash and Sam Raimi's distinctive film-making style. You can see the ground-work being laid for his later, big-budget films here, but I would, personally, take his old films over anything he's made recently by a long shot. Army of Darkness is for the goofball in you. If you don't like bad or cheesy movies, don't see it. If you do, there are very few ways to spend an hour and a half that would be more fun than Army of Darkness.



Mike Lippert said...

I tend to agree with you that Army of Darkness is the least loved Evil Dead movie (I certainly don't like it myself) so it never makes sense when Bruce Campbell goes around talking about it as the be-all and end-all of Evil Dead movies. I don't know, maybe the public opinion on it has changed since it came out and I'm just out of touch?

Alfindeol said...

I think it's just Campbell's personal favorite and he lets that color his view of the movie's standing. Most people would say that Evil Dead II is the best of the trilogy, a stance I don't agree with at all, and their second favorite depends on if they like the comedy or the horror aspect of the trilogy more.