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Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness

Third in the Evil Dead series. Ash (Bruce Campbell) bores his coworkers with his tales of past adventures, then finds himself thrust back in time to 14th century England, where he quickly makes known his prowess with chain saw and shotgun. Naturally, he finds a fair maiden, named Sheila (Embeth Davidtz), and seeks to make his way back home, using a trio of magic books. The use of the third book (the Necronomicon, after a non-existent magical tome mentioned in H. P. Lovecraft's works) must be accompanied by the correct uttering of the phrase "Klaatu barada nikto" (an homage to The Day the Earth Stood Still), but Ash, being more muscle than brains, gets it wrong - and unleashes on the medieval world the army of skeletons mentioned in the title.

Army of Darkness is a curious mixture of comedy, horror, and fantasy. It unfolds like a live-action comic book, with the square- jawed Ash uttering the campiest dialog completely straight-faced. The action sequences are entertaining; the special effects are decent; the humor is mostly juvenile (the cartoony sound effects and the voices of the non-human characters in particular, such as the skeleton warriors and the 'mini-Ashes', betray just how broad the humor is). The tone of this film could be called enthusiastic; blending the horror and humor elements was risky, and director Raimi must have known that the best way to approach it was with a forward assault. Indeed, this is almost the perfect comic-book-geek movie, in its own way: such elements as advancement of the plot, character motivation, and theme are tossed out the window to make room for more action.

People seem to either love AoD, or hate it, with barely any middle ground. In any case, Bruce Campbell has become a demi-god to comic book and movie-geek enthusiasts. Sam Raimi would go on to direct the Spider-Man films, never having returned to the Evil Dead universe (although there are rumors about an upcoming remake of the original).

Since it was the third in the series, the original title was to have been Evil Dead 3. Small changes were made to this and the second film, however, to make Army of Darkness stand more or less on its own. It only gained its cult following after being released on home video.

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