Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness; horror comedy, USA, 1992; D: Sam Raimi, S: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Bridget Fonda

After the last events, Ash and his car land in the Middle ages where he gets caught by some knights and thrown into a well of demons, yet he survives thanks to his chainsaw which makes the inhabitants of the castle proclaim him as the "chosen one". In order to return back to the 20th century, he retrieves once again the book of the dead, but since he speaks the magic words wrong, an army of skeletons is unleashed that starts the siege of the castle in order to their book back. Thanks to his knowledge, Ash creates gunpowder, destroys the skeleton army and returns to the future thanks to a wiseman.

In the final part of the trilogy that spans a decade, Ash switched from a "man of chaos" into a "man of action" whereas the whole movie was so tamed down since a major studio - Universal - took over the production that some fans lamented that compared to the first two "Evil Dead" instalments part III looks like "Care Bears", yet "Army of Darkness" is the most accessible movie of the series and still abounds with original ideas and impressive style. Similarly like "Back to the Future III", "Army" took the original storyline into an entirely different direction by setting it in the Middle ages, yet its leap in style and gratuitous slapstick have sense if the viewers simply look at it as a standalone film, whereas the minute Ash uses his shotgun to blow up a sword of a knight and shoot a witch does the story become simply a pure fun.

Numerous directors of horror trash should take a lesson or two from Raimi's approach here who still managed to make the mill run his way despite the fact that the producers inhibited him from too exotic directorial stunts. Obviously, there are many pointless scenes (Ash fighting with his midget clones, which is annoying) whereas Embeth Davidtz received a mild role, yet the final 25 minutes where Ash uses gunpowder to fight against the army of skeletons that besiege the castle really let's the fun loose - with the scene where the camera follows a catapulted flame from the castle falling down on the army almost seems as if it inspired a similar one with the falling rock in "The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King" - numerous references to other movies are plain clever (the magic words "Klaatu barada nikto", the fight with the skeleton that is a homage to "Jason and the Argonauts"...) whereas out of two available endings the happy one clearly lifts the movie up a notch.


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