Army Of Darkness (1992)

Ahhhhhh. This is it. Day 31 of my 31 Days Of Horror. Halloween itself. This has several meanings for me. One, that I’ve managed to actually complete a series of videos, two, I can go out and celebrate what is basically my Christmas and three, tomorrow I might be able to SLEEP AGAIN. 

But that isn’t important. What’s important is my final film of this spooky season. Two years ago when I started this 31 Days Challenge, I ended on the horror film that inspired my passion for filmmaking and horror movies. Last year I followed it up with possibly my favourite film of all time, Evil Dead II, and this year.. this year I have Army of Darkness.

The third and final part of the original Evil Dead series, Army Of Darkness marks a change in direction for Sam Raimi and co., with horror taking the backseat to comedy in a big way. With influences from the likes of Jason and the Argonauts, Three Stooges and Gulliver’s Travels, Army Of Darkness opens on a slight re-jig of the ending to Evil Dead II.

After being sucked through a portal that lands our hero Ash, played by Bruce Campbell, in the Middle Ages, Ash is promptly captured and shackled, led back to the castle of Lord Arthur as a slave and forced to stand trial as an agent of Duke Henry. And boy, he isn’t happy about it.

It’s revealed that the lands of Lord Arthur are being ravaged by a plague of evil creatures, referred to as Deadites. After Ash is thrown into a pit and forced to confront a handful of rotting Deadites, he is given back his shotgun and chainsaw – publicly butchering the creatures and pulling himself free of the pit. It’s clear at this point that Ash is beyond caring. He has been through enough shit, and it’s time to fight back – and he certainly does that. Hailed as a hero, Ash is given all the comforts of a King, but still he insists that the Wise Men find a way to send him home.

Soon, Ash is sent to recover the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, which is believed to contain the passages that can send him home. But it isn’t easy. Riding through the dangerous wildlands, Ash is attacked by an unseen force in the woods – and forced to take shelter in a windmill. Here, he is attacked by a swarm of evil reflections of himself – and this is only the beginning of the chaos.

In no time at all, Ash is fleeing a horde of skeletons – known as the Army Of The Dead – with his corrupted evil twin at their lead. Yeah, like I say, chaos. Unable to return home, Ash is forced to take a stand with the people of Lord Arthur’s court and face an unholy siege – with the aid of some handy modern day inventions, naturally. I’d like to point out at this point that Peter Jackson’s The Two Towers totally ripped off the gunpowder sequence from Army Of Darkness – like, seriously. It’s not even subtle.

In the end, Ash- well. I guess that depends on what version you bought.

Army Of Darkness introduces us to an Ash that we will see for many years to come. Brave, arrogant, cocky and, basically just a dick. His one liners have become near legendary since this film, with most of them being ripped off or referenced across every form of media – Duke Nukem, in particular.

It’s not the Evil Dead I love, it’s something else. And that’s totally fine. This is the film to sit down and have a laugh at – and it certainly holds up. The slapstick humour, torn straight out of the Three Stooges playbook, is ridiculous and over the top and I love it. Oh, and I have to say, the Director’s Cut is the only true way to watch this film. Small subtle changes throughout that just makes everything gel. The only bone of contention is the ending. One, considered too depressing by test audiences, and the other, which is ridiculous, over the top and full of quotable lines. It’s a coin toss, but they’re well worth watching individually – you’ll soon know which is your favourite.

Would I recommend it? Yes, obviously. Watch this bloody film, it’s dumb and fun and I love it.

Well, then. I guess that’s it, folks. My 31 Days of Horror is complete. This terrible, terrible idea which I recommend to all of my friends. Next year, maybe you should try it. It certainly gets through the unwatched pile of DVDs that’s been gathering dust all year and I’m just itching for my next challenge. Maybe I’ll watch every single Christmas film in December. or just through my 1001 Movies To Watch Before You Die. Maybe I’ll just watch a film every day for the rest of time – ah ha. Ah HA. HAHAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.


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