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The Medieval Dead
on 22 December 2007
NB: As is their wont, Amazon have lumped together the reviews for all editions and formats of this title - and there have been a LOT of different editions. This review refers to Anchor Bay's deleted two-disc UK DVD.
Having abandoned genuine scares in favor of all-out slapstick, Army of Darkness, the third entry in the Evil Dead series sees Bruce Campbell lost in time, low on gas, surrounded by evil and facing the Medieval Dead with only a chainsaw, a '73 Oldsmobile, his trusty boomstick and a lot of attitude in a film that owes more to Ray Harryhausen than George A. Romero, albeit with an R-rating (it's one of the last films to use stop-motion extensively, with more sword-wielding skeletons than Harryhausen managed in his entire career). Never quite as much fun as you'd like it to be, it's certainly aged much better than expected - initially regarded as a disappointment, today it stands up rather well, especially when seen away from its two more small-scale predecessors. Joe LoDuca's unapologetically old-fashioned epic score is a lot of fun too, particularly cues like `Manly Men' and `Building the Deathmobile.'
Seeing the two versions of the film side by side on Anchor Bay's 2-disc DVD - the US theatrical version with the S-Mart ending and the longer director's `Bootleg cut' with the original `Planet of the Apes' ending, the differences in the longer version are mainly extended scenes rather than deleted ones, though the use of a few alternate takes means that some of the most quotable lines from the shorter version are lost ("Good, bad, I'm the one with the gun." "Maybe my men can hold them. Maybe I'm a Chinese jet pilot." "Hail to the king, baby.") and the picture quality is a lot softer. It has to be said that both versions have their merits: there's a bit of repetition in the long version (Marcus Gilbert's every other line in the last half hour seems to be "We are deserted!") and while a lot of good stuff was lost when the film was trimmed for the US, the shorter version IS a lot snappier and the S-Mart Dedite ending is quite fun even if it doesn't set up the will-it-ever-get-made Evil Dead 4 promised in the original ending.