Continuing my I Love Splatter! A to Z project today, in which I am going to watch every single one of my horror dvds in order, is Army of Darkness. Yes, yes, yes I KNOW, PURISTS: you’re going to give me some grief about not putting this one next to Evil Dead 1 & 2, but! It starts with A, so here we go. You can also see me talk about this on video in my Instagram stories & highlights (@ilovesplatter).
Army of Darkness (1992)
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell as Ash, Embeth Davidtz as Sheila, Marcus Gilbert as Lord Arthur, and Ian Ambercrombie as Wiseman
IMDb description: A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.
WHAT I REMEMBERED: Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve watched this but I still remember a lot because I used to be completely OBSESSED with this film, and watched it at least once every few weeks … on … wait for it .. LASERDISC.
I remember the beginning in S-mart, with Ash saving Bridget Fonda (!!) from a Deadite, which is hella funny. But what I remember the most of course is how f’ing cool Campbell is as Ash in this one, constructing his killer gauntlet hand, slaughtering Deadites, and woo’ing medieval babes — all while dropping his signature one-liners. It’s like the experiences of ED 1 & 2 pushed him from awkward into super hot terrority. Also, Evil Ash is somehow just as dead (ha) sexy as “good” Ash, and also THAT SKELETON ARMY! Raimi totally tapped into my extreme love of Harryhausen’s skeleton army from Jason and the Argonauts and I. Love. It. So. Much.
I also remember love/hating the end — which one, you ask? Because there’s a couple, but the only one I really remember is old Ash waking up and realizing the apocalypse has occurred and he’s the last man on earth. (If that’s even correct? Is it? I’m not Googling for this, because that would be cheating). I’ll find out shortly ….
NOW THAT I’VE REWATCHED IT: Haha! I totally had the beginning wrong; while they flash to him working in S-Mart with Bridget Fonda, I had forgotten that they just slotted her in as Linda, so she actually “dies” in the Evil Dead flashback they recreated! It starts with him falling through the time-travel wormhole and getting captured by Arthur’s men.
Also, THOSE TITLES! Hand animated letters that say “Bruce Campbell VS Army of Darkness” — how did I forget that? So cool.
And OMG the scene where the Wiseman throws him his chainsaw is AMAZING! So great.
Completely forgot the many tiny little Ash clones were in this one; My brain always equates them with Evil Dead 2! But nope; that slapsticky scene of them attacking Ash in the windmill is still hilarious. I also forgot that not only does Bad Ash take Sheila and infect her — they also show the skeleton army dragging half-naked women in chains and saying, “We got plans for you, girly-girl!” which … uh, EW. I don’t like that!
The whole battle between the army of the dead and the kingdom is really fantastic! Considering how many things they had to coordinate for that sequence of events, it’s pretty incredible. I had also totally forgotten that Ash turns his car into a medieval tank that takes out several skeletons at once.
Also while we all LOVE Bruce Campbell as Ash (and Evil Ash) not enough people talk about how good Embeth Davidtz is as both good and evil Sheila! She is amazing in both roles and I love her.
I was right about that ending; the apocalypse ending is the original one, but the studio thought it was too bleak (dumb!) so they replaced it with the theatrical ending of him back in S-Mart, fighting a Deadite and showing off as the hero. But of course since I was wrong about it being at the start, it’s not Fonda he saves; it’s Angela Featherstone, aka Linda from The Wedding Singer!
Overall, I still really enjoy this one! It’s so over-the-top and fun. Everything about it still holds up.
Favorite Ash lines:
“First you wanna kill me, then you wanna kiss me. Blow”
“Gimme some sugar, baby.”
“Good, bad. I’m the guy with the gun.”
“That’s just what we call pillow talk, baby – that’s all.”
“Buckle up bonehead, because you’re goin’ for a ride.”
“Hail to the King, baby.”
Special F/X report: Some of the green screen stuff looks a little clunky, but that car drop is still super impressive, as is all the practical stuff (yay Deadite puss!) and the awesome stop-motion army of skeletons. And honestly, that fountain of blood that sprays out of “the pit” at the beginning is so rad.