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Overall Rating
4.26

Awesome54.93%
Worth A Look: 26.76%
Average: 12.21%
Pretty Bad: 1.41%
Total Crap: 4.69%

10 reviews, 153 user ratings


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Army of Darkness
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Great guilty pleasure even in its watered-down theatrical form."
5 stars

If you ever want to get a funny debate going among movie-loving friends, ask them what they think of Sam Raimi's 'Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn' (1987). Some will immediately laugh and gush, "Great movie." Others will say, "Stupidest movie ever made." Still others will say both in the same breath.

The debate, I suspect, will begin anew with Raimi's Army of Darkness (which Universal refused to release under its proper title, Evil Dead 3: Medieval Dead). This, too, is the sort of film that inspires a response like "Jesus, that was dumb, and I loved every minute of it." Army of Darkness is stupid in the fearless, half-admirable way that the best Ren & Stimpy episodes are stupid; it keeps topping itself just when you think it can't. Actually, "stupid" isn't the right word here -- a better label might be "campy," and very intentionally so; Raimi's Evil Dead films are essentially gutbucket comedies, and this one's no exception. This extended guitar riff of a movie blows the doors off any fantasy-adventure I've seen in years.

Raimi, known mostly to readers of Fangoria for directing the first two Evil Deads before stumbling onto mainstream success with Darkman, hasn't outgrown his devotion to monster movies, superheroes, and the Three Stooges -- the three pop phenomena that guys gravitate to but most women find inane. (Army of Darkness is not the ideal date movie.) Raimi is a playfully inventive director -- his movies are big, junky toy boxes -- and his affection for senseless, sophomoric trash is infectious. He turns violence and gore into slapstick, yet he isn't cruel; his affection extends to his characters, even the slobbering zombies. Especially the slobbering zombies.

Army of Darkness picks up at the exact instant that Evil Dead 2 left off, but if you missed the first two installments (though obviously I recommend them), the new movie stands pretty well on its own. Raimi re-introduces us to Ash (Bruce Campbell), the college student who found the ancient Book of the Dead out in a cabin in the woods and unleashed the forces of hell, one of which possessed his girlfriend. (Amusing trivia: Bridget Fonda plays the girlfriend in the new footage.) After much mayhem and blood-spritzing, Ash somehow created a vortex that spirited him to Medieval England, along with his crappy '73 Delta-88 Oldsmobile. Armed with a shotgun and a chainsaw (the latter of which is attached to the stump of his right hand), Ash now finds himself fighting the "Deadites" and questing for the Book of the Dead, his only ticket home.

Raimi, who wrote the script with his brother Ivan, approaches this scenario as if someone had given him a deep pail of Magic Markers and told him to draw the ultimate comic book. The setting is Frank Frazetta by way of Monty Python, the action strictly Three Stooges Meet Jason and the Argonauts (lots of eye-boinking). Like Brian De Palma, Raimi borrows from a lot of sources but mooshes the stolen elements into an inspired style all his own. As usual, he shows you things you don't see every day: a shot of an arrow in flight, filmed from the arrow's point of view (Raimi loves that shtick -- he's done the POV-of-flying-object in almost all his movies); a sequence in which Ash's face is pulled like Silly Putty. Raimi doesn't have a thing on his mind except to give you a raucous good time, and he does. In a period when you can almost see the director's dour face hovering over the camera, worrying about being taken seriously, it's a goddamn relief to have someone like Raimi who cackles gleefully from the first shot.

It's been six years since Evil Dead 2, and even longer (13 years) since Raimi and Campbell finished shooting the original Evil Dead, so Campbell has lost his frat-boy look (his Ash still acts like one, though). But age has given him an edge: After the crap he went through in Evil Dead 2, nothing shocks or impresses him any more. When a crowd of grateful people hail him, he muscles through them: "Yeah, yeah ... Right ... Get the fuck outta my face." Wiry and demented, Ash slams his way through the most chaotic and absurd situations (such as when he breaks a mirror and his own tiny reflections emerge from the shards of glass and attack him) as if he were dealing with nothing more unusual than a loud kegger. Campbell, a gifted physical comedian with a deadpan knack for cheesy B-movie dialogue, fits into Raimi's fantasies as snugly as Robert De Niro fits into Martin Scorsese's urban dramas. Buddies since high school, these two deserve each other, and deserve to grow old together on film.

Darkman was Raimi's crossover hit because it satisfied the audience's need for a comic-book movie with style and a kidding sense of itself; unlike Batman and Dick Tracy, it came out of nowhere, with no particular pretensions. If Army of Darkness becomes another hit*, that's because it has everything connoisseurs of great junk look for: zombies in armor, swordplay, gunplay, slapstick, a damsel in distress, a truly loopy hero, jaw-dropping visuals (literally, in one case), and enough slaphappiness for ten movies. Army of Darkness is epic fun. If all Sam Raimi wants to do is make cinematic comic books, I won't mind as long as they're as energetic and screwy as this one.

* The movie, of course, was not a hit. After gathering dust on the shelf since 1991, it was released in a February 1993 death slot, considerably cut (from 96 minutes to 81) and with a watered-down, studio-mandated ending. Most critics dismissed it, and it went away fast. For years, fans had to settle for bootlegs of the Japanese laserdisc to see the film as Raimi intended it. Nowadays, though, both versions are readily available on DVD. It's generally agreed that Raimi's original (much darker) ending is by far the better of the two.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=779&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/27/07 09:41:16
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User Comments

9/03/12 Courtney Fun to watch zombie/undead film full of quotable one-liners. 3 stars
11/27/11 joshuaprater1979 Super movie! 5 stars
7/18/11 Flipsider The 1st half is a masterpiece, the 2nd half not so much. Overall great flick! 4 stars
8/05/10 Dr.Lao Most fun I've had watching a movie in a long time 4 stars
11/04/08 Fabby People who don't like this movie take life too seriously. 5 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
7/13/08 Alex Spivey wonderful comedy 5 stars
7/13/08 Evil Dead Ed The best action/horror/comedic performance by Bruce Campbell ever! 5 stars
6/25/08 Nate The most fantastic dose of retardism available on film - you love to love it 5 stars
3/02/08 John Millheim Ah, you got to love this dvd, i love it 5 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White nothing to write home about maybe if I'm high it would be funny 2 stars
2/07/08 Dan T. coolest movie ever, i saw it dubbed in italian for the first time, english for the past 20 5 stars
7/13/07 Justin While ED2 will always be my favorite, I prefer the chessy ED3 to the serious ED1.Good stuff 5 stars
5/18/07 addam morgan best movie and bruce is just the funny act on everything he has to be the best. 5 stars
2/03/07 Vip Ebriega Awesome "dead" flick. 4 stars
1/28/07 mets1986 Awesome 5 stars
1/27/07 Ole Man Bourbon Maam, I'm gonna have to ask you to leave the store 5 stars
1/12/07 cam Pure entertainment, nothing more, nothing less. 4 stars
12/04/06 DasuberDing awesome super cheesyness in the vein of Monty Python! 5 stars
11/05/06 Radius Every one can agree that Bruce owns the movie screne, Thus he makes this movie to be awsome 5 stars
10/06/06 Pritchett The weakest of the three, but still a total blast. Shut up, Quigley, you twat-stain. 4 stars
9/07/06 matt probably the best movie ever made 5 stars
7/26/06 Quigley The worst piece of cinematic sewage ever made. too ridiculous to imagine. so, so, so bad 1 stars
5/10/06 omar not good, not bad. its just there 3 stars
4/21/06 Becky Funny and awesome. Who can't laugh during the graveyard scene? 5 stars
3/02/06 chris f quite good worth a watch 4 stars
1/03/06 cody a different sequel than part 2, good thrilling story , bruce is awesome and only for a fan 3 stars
11/25/05 Agent Sands Not as good as Evil Dead 2, but still good. Great reference to Day the Earth Stood Still. 4 stars
11/25/05 chris a very good sequel 5 stars
7/12/05 Burt Ward Funnyc clever, and badass. The best one in the whole trilogy. 5 stars
6/10/05 JD Really funny movie, excellent! 5 stars
6/07/05 Anthony G Bruce campbell is the FUCKING MAN! 5 stars
6/03/05 Steevil Dead My Favorite Movie Of All time!(take that Citizen Kane!) 5 stars
5/31/05 The Hitman Great, Greater, THE GREATEST! Pure fun! Campbell and Raimi rule 5 stars
3/23/05 indrid cold Very unscary and unfunny. Why do people like this movie? 2 stars
2/13/05 Matt Fekete Cult classic. Hilarious. Great leading Man. 5 stars
2/06/05 Tom Benton A cool, very funny follow-up to "Evil Dead II"; Bruce Campbell is God. 4 stars
1/20/05 Laurian Diaconescu If you don't like it, "run home and cry to mama!" MUAHAHAHA! Awesome humor! 5 stars
11/28/04 luke brilliant 5 stars
11/09/04 B AoD owns, ED 2 is better though 5 stars
11/03/04 Al Guy Bruce Campbell makes it work. 4 stars
11/02/04 Chaz Check out the directors cut! 5 stars
8/21/04 Josh Standlee The movie is just plain fun! And that's all we really need, right? 5 stars
8/02/04 Anthony G dead next door is a faggot hippie, who likes blackman creampies 5 stars
5/05/04 dead next door dont like it anymore. 1 stars
5/01/04 Gray groovy 5 stars
2/14/04 Kurt White This movie is a classic and with good reason; it ROCKS! 5 stars
2/02/04 Rocko KICKS ASS 5 stars
1/26/04 Eric This could be a t.v. show.But it wouldn't work without Bruce 4 stars
1/26/04 American Slasher Goddess Watchable, but the weakest of the series. 3 stars
1/12/04 Dylan Long This movie KICKS ASS! 5 stars
12/30/03 Samuel "Your only leading two things, Jack and shit ..Jack left town!" 5 stars
11/19/03 Josh Standlee A groovy film! I love saying,"Hail to the king, baby!". Ash rules! 5 stars
11/16/03 AshFan Hey, Guy Smiley, was it? Come get some, you zit-faced she-bitch! 5 stars
10/29/03 R.W. Welch Loopy action-FX extravaganza, sometimes clever, sometimes just inane. 3 stars
9/05/03 Jonathan Horne Army of Darkness....well all i have to say is "gimmie some sugar baby!" 5 stars
8/28/03 Sigrid Excellent. 5 stars
8/26/03 Baz Wikidest B movie ever , da endings the best 5 stars
8/02/03 Jab This is the funniest film ever 5 stars
7/27/03 J Army of Darkness is not scary, its funny; even do it has cheap graphics. 4 stars
7/04/03 T3 It's true Bruce Campbell is the God of B movies..and the ending was the coolest. 5 stars
5/18/03 Gregor Purple Ass baboon Bruce Campbell is God 5 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Very, very funny. 4 stars
4/15/03 Matt Haynes Best Sequil in a long time. 5 stars
2/19/03 Ben Plank This is the best movie of all time!! 5 stars
2/03/03 Turtle Hands down the best of the Evil Dead trilogy. Totally awesome blend of horror and comedy. 5 stars
1/02/03 Ting A great movie. 5 stars
12/31/02 Bob Hardcore The ending is the coolest piece of B movie ever 5 stars
12/30/02 Crimson Matrix heh 3 stars
12/25/02 f*r*o*s*t*y I *heart* Bruce Campbell. 5 stars
9/25/02 Laurian Diaconescu Anyone with a good sense of humor would like this movie.Awesome work again,Campbell & Raimi 5 stars
9/20/02 snowconehead Anyone seen "Serving Sara" ? Just a reminder what he's capable of............ 5 stars
9/01/02 AshFan Bruce Campbell... sniff, sniff... thank you for another Ash fest!! 5 stars
8/28/02 Peace A.S. Gimme some sugar, baby! 5 stars
7/29/02 Captain Midol This has it all, blood, guts, demons, humor, violence, evil twins, and BRUCE! 5 stars
7/24/02 Caiphn Bruce!!!!!! 5 stars
5/30/02 Punk_Ass More fun that scary. Tons of attitude, one liners, and Bruce Campbell at his best. 5 stars
5/16/02 Dyl why are the reviewers so crap? this movie is the king, baby! 5 stars
4/09/02 Russell GROOOOVY 5 stars
4/01/02 Joe Schulz I am in a cult you know 5 stars
3/31/02 Rockitman007 Face it, this is a cult classic .......Give in 5 stars
3/26/02 Mack Man Groovy, but not as good as 2!!!!! 4 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee Groovy!!! (and be sure to stick with the theatrical cut.) 5 stars
1/29/02 Gracy Lionheart Evil Dead II is my fav, but this was the one that I saw first and got me hooked 5 stars
1/26/02 andy hysterical ... if you get it ... incredible directing 5 stars
1/24/02 Scott Boshardt If you don't get it, you don't get it. 5 stars
1/23/02 Andrew Carden It's Not Funny or Scary...just Really Dumb. 1 stars
1/22/02 The Bomb 69 6 reviews and 66 ratings before my entry, spooky!!! 5 stars
1/22/02 slipperyK the movie is one great one liner 4 stars
1/01/02 Tony the tiger with commentary by Steven the snake Man this rocks! 5 stars
12/15/01 Keith The whole trilogy kicks ass. This is great, although it is my least fav. of the series 5 stars
12/04/01 auroradae bruce campbell is god, hail to the king baby 5 stars
11/13/01 Caiphn Guy Smiley, what did you expect, tardboy? 5 stars
11/12/01 Kyle Evil Dead produces another good sequel! 5 stars
11/12/01 Gracy Lionheart Evil Dead II is still my fav...but this has a style all to itelf. I gotta love it. 5 stars
10/31/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Good but, its not like Evil dead 2... Oh well it still RRRRULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/05/01 Axe Murderer Shop smart....shop s-mart 5 stars
9/29/01 Palaboy despite what some of the reviewers said, it is a good and funny movie 4 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk The funniest of the series...I have to love it...but ED2 still reigns supreme. 5 stars
6/20/01 Dylan Love this film, wacked out and hilarious in the way that makes us remember this film. 5 stars
5/08/01 Movie good movie 5 stars
4/23/01 Alexandria Gehman Any one who can use "hail to the king baby" and get away with it deserves an oscar 5 stars
3/21/01 mr. char had its moments, but the evil e 4 stars
3/04/01 The Bomb 69 "you just got real ugly!!" It's meant to be chessy folks. 5 stars
2/21/01 Steve in Prague teen movie critic needs to be fired...GET A LIFE YOU ASSHOLE 5 stars
2/09/01 Dark Sol Three tumbs up... and the "sequels" are coming to an end. 5 stars
2/05/01 Wafer Most critics don't understand that the cheesiness is the comedy 4 stars
1/16/01 Jake LaMotta A movie that mocks itself 4 stars
1/03/01 fifu cheese to teh point you have to love it 5 stars
12/09/00 Guitarophile You just can't beat this flick for cool one-liners! 5 stars
10/29/00 whoami The perfect cheesy comedy! Gets even better the more you drink! 5 stars
10/26/00 durov it might be bad,but it feels soooo good! 5 stars
9/23/00 Add Listen up u primitive screwheads, this film delivers the sugar baby!!! 5 stars
6/27/00 Jester Yo! She bitch... lets go! 5 stars
5/30/00 Add Outstanding, if u like horror and u enjoy comedy then you'll luv this! 5 stars
5/19/00 spanky rules 5 stars
5/05/00 Dex1138 It doesn't get any better than Ash! 5 stars
4/25/00 John Lyons Bruce Campbell was great! Shop S-Mart! 5 stars
4/22/00 Epimetheus Absolutely, completely, astoundingly, Bad. And fucking hilarious. Cult classic. 5 stars
4/19/00 The Rock The Rock says do you like poontang pie? 5 stars
3/27/00 Luke Hail to the king baby 5 stars
3/11/00 Wyatt Earp You got real ugly... 5 stars
3/07/00 PhilmPhreak Gimme some sugar, baby! 5 stars
3/05/00 bullit17 Worth it just for Bruce Campbell. He saves it from total suck-assiness 3 stars
1/02/00 Nice Guy Eddie Absolutely hilarious when I saw it while drinking, not quite as good a second time sober. 4 stars
12/06/99 Chuck Baker How can anyone with a sense of humor NOT love this flick? Bruce Campbell kicks ass! 5 stars
12/03/99 Dr.Acula Fun, Campell is great,cheesy effects only make it better! 5 stars
10/22/99 Peter Hessler Hella funny shit man 5 stars
9/19/99 Mr.Man Damn, it's funny as hell. With some good action scenes. 5 stars
7/27/99 Eric The best horror-comedy ever made. Absolutely hilarious! Much better than Evil Dead 2. 5 stars
7/12/99 Starry Knight Groovy 5 stars
7/11/99 Josh Childs You have got to be kidding me, it's the best thing to hit Film!!! 5 stars
5/26/99 iyu The title should have stayed as "Medieval Dead". But a very _fun_ movie nonetheless. :D) 4 stars
5/22/99 XenoWolf It so friggin dumb its cool almost like a play on screen 4 stars
3/18/99 Max Bernstein worth watching twice. "gimme some sugar, baby" 4 stars
3/18/99 Madcap It was FUN...mindless, but FUN...I want one of those shotguns that never runs out of ammo.. 4 stars
3/05/99 Don Wilson This movie really kicks ass! 5 stars
2/19/99 charhas i loved it. It's cheezy, and not real high quality, but get drunk and laugh! 4 stars
1/25/99 YellerDog 2's better, though this is good as well. 5 stars
1/24/99 donkey_dew "Hail to the king baby." 5 stars
1/24/99 Jack One of my favorites of all time. Definately not for everyone. 4 stars
11/04/98 cyanide rush look this movie is just plain cool. all u wussies fuck off 5 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob Not as bad as it seems, not as great as it wants to be. If only this were made in Hong Kong 4 stars
10/24/98 Vincent After a brilliant first two, the EVIL DEAD series falls flat on its ass 2 stars
10/24/98 grunter what is it with Campbell? He overacts BADLY and everygeek wants to suck his dick; whatever 1 stars
10/14/98 Chi-Fan Hu One funny ass movie 4 stars
9/29/98 Nate Dogg BRUCE CAMPBELL!!!!! 5 stars
9/26/98 Slabs This is one of my 'desert island' films!!! 5 stars
9/24/98 Jeff Hayward This is great! Nonstop action and terror! 5 stars
9/16/98 Negative Creep It's Bruce Campbell. HAIL TO THE KING, BABYˇ 5 stars
9/13/98 BBReBozo "eye poke" scene in the graveyard, a classic. Klatu Barata Niktastic! 5 stars
8/30/98 J-Guy (The MFC) it was all right. 3 stars
8/30/98 Johny Too bad it's not as good as the films it follows 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Feb-1993 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  02-Feb-1994 (R)




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