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ARMY OF DARKNESS, 1992
Movie Review


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ARMY OF DARKNESS MOVIE POSTER
ARMY OF DARKNESS, 1992
Movie Reviews

Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidth, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove
Review by Sarah Evans



SYNOPSIS:

Discount-store employee Ash has just battled his way through a demon possessed cabin…only to be thrust back to the medieval times. The problem is, the only way he’ll be able to get back home and to modern day is by coming face to face with the evil forces that got him there in the first place. With some medieval tools and modern know how, Ash has to kick some satanic ass in order to save the fate of a kingdom and get back for his nine to five shift in the Houseware’s department.

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REVIEW:

The film starts off like a nightmarish Wizard of OZ. Ash (Bruce Campbell), the discount-store employee who plays the hero throughout all the Evil Dead movies including this sequel, comes plummeting from the sky along with the hunk of metal better known as his vehicle. With his chainsaw arm intact and shot gun strapped to his back, he stands disoriented and confused standing on the grounds of an unfamiliar time. Suddenly, a squall of horses and sword wielding knights come bursting onto the scene, mistaking him as an enemy and taking him as their prisoner. It’s just as though you were pushed from a helicopter and crash landed in the middle of a Medieval Times joust.

The situation is odd due to the fact that one minute he’s a piece of human feces in their eyes and then he’s their only hope. Unfortunately for Ash, had he not crash landed right in the middle of a medieval demon alert, he would not have been deemed as “the chosen one”. In order to get home, he must obtain a demon book, the Necronomicon, from a possessed graveyard so he can open up a time portal. In a way, that’s almost like accidentally running over an old lady’s Scottie dog then going back and having to pretend you found it dead on the sidewalk – awkward. Nevertheless, Ash agrees to obtain the book or else he has no other choice but to stay in the sixteenth century with a chainsaw as a hand.

If you feel like the film is about to end before it even started…don’t. Even though Ash puts on this flashy demeanor of being a cold-hearted bad ass, he let’s off a little more than he can give. Although the task to retrieve the book by saying three magic words would seem simple enough, he proves us wrong. In fact, the whole mission just crumbles in his hands and instead of saving the kingdom and getting the only thing that can send him home, he awakens and army of skeletons and puts everyone’s lives in even grander scale of devastation than before! Bravo! Now he has to fulfill his duty as “the chosen” one and fight an army of demons that and his evil twin who, coincidentally, is the leader of the demon brigade.

Like most of Sam Raimi’s film, “Army of Darkness” possesses many of the same stylistic choices and narrative elements as his other Evil Dead films. From the crazed, cartoon-like demons that plague the scene to Ash’s corny one-liners, Raimi has a trademark way of making his films seem so ridiculous and funny, but frightening at the same time. In any case, although “Army of Darkness” possesses many of the same qualities as the films leading up to it, there are a few notable things that deserve some attention.

Firstly, Raimi loves his special effects and uses it well both in makeup and pyrotechnics. As usual, there is the odd burst of hell fire and blood explosions, mixed in with the grotesque rotting skin of the undead. To be honest, in this film, there isn’t much of a difference. However, there are some special effects that burgeon from its underbelly that really accentuate Raimi’s sheer creativity. One of these things is Ash’s hand. At first, it’s just a regular ole’ chainsaw arm – nothing special -- but when you’re in the medieval era, you need to strut your stuff in style. What better way to do it then with a hand crafted metal hand designed just for you by an authentic toothless blacksmith! It’s not certain whether this hand was inspired by the late-great Michael Jackson’s own sparkly glove but I’m going to go ahead and say it is. Although the metallic hands “glitter” is more of a matted sheen created by sweat and oil, it also can pulverize anything it clenches its fist around. A great twist on an old classic!

Another part of the film that I thought was really effective was the creation of Ash’s miniatures. It was just like watching a perversion of the classic tale Gulliver’s Travel’s, but with devilish little Ash’s creating havoc and taunting big Ash with pointed objects. This is just another way for Raimi to portray evil, big or small. Instead of boring his audience with demons that all look the same, like the Olson Twins or something, he seeks out different ways to reflect the physical embodiment of evil.

The things that could be said in terms of the special effects used in this film, or should I say, all of his films, are endless, which is why I’m going to move on to something equally as good and important. For those of you who say you’ve seen great acting, but have never seen this film, you will wonder what you ever saw in Tom Hanks repertoire because it is absolute filth in comparison. So what if such a comment is unprecedented? The film has some great one-liners! Ash’s character in general is phenomenal. In the earlier evil dead movies, he seems more of a clueless frat boy, but slowly he becomes more and dead on the inside from fighting the…dead. He bursts out as this hardened shell of a man with a cocky attitude and zero-tolerance for anything living or possessed. However, no matter how hard he tries to be this brawny projection of a man, he’s still has an ozone of idiot that lies within him, which makes his humility that much more enjoyable to watch.


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Army of Darkness


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