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Army of Darkness / Evil Dead 3 [DVD]
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In this, the third instalment in the 'Evil Dead' series, Ash (Bruce Campbell) and his chainsaw are transported back in time to the 14th century via an evil book. In his attempts to return to the present he has to battle skeletons and Dark Age warriors, as well as romancing a medieval damsel.
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Of course the half-witted Ash endears himself to the primitive locals as only he can, and soon finds himself in chains and facing certain death in a deadite infested pit. One gore-splashing encounter with a demon later and it dawns on his medieval hosts that Ash just might be the 'promised one', the one that was prophesised to fall from the sky to deliver them from evil.
Naturally Ash is the absolutely least qualified person to be the savior of the world. He's crass, sexist, idiotic and cowardly - all attributes he displays in full when he manages to unleash a terrible evil on the world whilst trying to do the exact opposite, all because he's too bone-headed to remember three little magic words.
Theres one thing that Ash does excel at though, and that is fighting deadites and kicking ass which - having created the whole mess they find themselves in to begin with - he has ample opportunity to endulge in. A groovy mechanical hand later, a run in with a dozen tiny versions of himself resulting in the birth of his evil alter-ego 'Evil Ash', one kidnapped princess, a Rocky-style training montage, and an army of the dead on your doorstep, and the scene is set for one hell of a showdown.
Army of Darkness is without doubt my favorite movie of all time. I watched it at the cinema in 1992 having been enthralled by images on the back of my comic book of a man with a shotgun and a mechanical hand punching-out skeletons, and the poster for the movie sits on my wall to this day. To be honest it is a movie that suffers from terribly low production values and has a cast made up entirely of actors you are unlikely to have ever heard of, but is all the better for it. Animation is of the Harry Hausen stop-motion style, and director Raimi abandons the much more traditional horror of the first two movies for a film that is played mainly for laughs. Its also one of the most deliberately quotable movies of all time, and I defy you not to try and introduce at least a couple of Ash's one-liners into your working day! in short, its a brilliant little B-movie that in the more than 20 years since its release has deservedly gone on to gain a massive cult following.
This version of the DVD provides you with a completely remastered version of the original cinematic release including the 'S-Mart' ending. Also included on the DVD is the Directors cut with a slew of additional scenes as well as an alternate 'Planet of the Apes' ending. You can also watch the Directors cut with commentary from director Sam Raimi and producer Robert Tapert.
My only complaint is that you cannot watch the Directors cut in remastered HD, which is a shame as this was by far the most entertaining version of the film. Other than this however you are holding perhaps the single greatest cult movie of all time in your hands - a very groovy purchase indeed!
Lots of slapstick even more than the sequel ensues. This is far and away from the horror experienced in the first Evil Dead film and is more cartoonish and crazy than the second. However it is nowhere as good as the first two movies. But what the film does have going for it is that it is literally non stop, something is always happening. However the script could have been better and the real problem here is in character development and characters, there just isn't enough of them, this movie is all about Ash, which is why some versions of the movie run as Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness.
The effects on a whole are done well and there is a clear tribute to Ray Harryhusen films however some of the effects especially in the windmill scene look iffy. But there's a lot of fun to be had here and the extended fight scenes have been done well. 25 years on and ASH V EVIL DEAD is a perfect sequel TV show, if you've just gotten into watching the show then AOD is well worth the look and acts as a great pilot because the cheesiness and craziness of the show is here to see in this movie.
This edition contains the 81 min version and the 96 min version.
The plot is very simple: after a prologue covering Evil Dead 2 we pick up where that film left off, with Ash (Bruce Campbell) in 1300AD, where he's surrounded and almost killed by Lord Arthur's (Marcus Gilbert) men. After he shows off his shotgun and chainsaw they make a deal with him; if Ash brings them the Book of the Dead they'll use it to send him home. Ash messes this up, and in doing so raises an army of the dead which he'll lead Lord Arthur's men against. The angelic Embeth Davidtz plays a love interest, and in a great scene she and Ash parody how fantasy heroes fall for each other.
Army of Darkness' tone is almost the polar opposite of Evil Dead's, and though Evil Dead 2 was a comedy it's still much grimmer than this second sequel. Army of Darkness is a bit like if David Lynch directed a Three Stooges short. It's compellingly strange at times, but through it all is a light and jolly romp which aims for humour rather than tension. Campbell, who was an average slasher hero in Evil Dead, gives a brilliant comic performance here. He's a great physical comedian; he has a few slapstick scenes which are surreal and hilarious. It would be unfair to say that everyone else phones it in, but that's kind of how it feels. Apart from a couple of villains the others aren't memorable; they're basically enacting cliches for Ash to banter with. All in all, Army of Darkness is a weird, light-hearted fantasy adventure filled with imagination. Raimi rightly doesn't worry about plot, focusing instead on slapstick, parody and awesome visuals. This is a shamelessly outlandish film which doesn't care if you get it or not; for those who do get it, it's a hell of a ride.
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