Plot: What’s it about?
Ash (Bruce Campbell) returns to the screen once again, in the third installment of the Evil Dead series. The evil force, which is heard but never seen, chased Ash from his restful cabin, and through a time warp, tossing him into the dark ages, complete with knights, alchemy, the whole nine yards. His car also makes the trip, which is cool. Ash is mistaken by a local group to be part of arrival army, and is shackled up like the rest of them, right alongside Henry The Red. They are led to a pit where one man is dropped in, an enough blood to fill a swimming pool showers out! Needless to say, Ash is hesitant about going in! But he does, and defeats the monsters within the pit, proving he is the “promised one.” Ash is forced to retrieve the Necronomicon. Or, to the layperson, The Book Of The Dead, which is inked in blood and bound in human flesh, to make it quite the sought after collector’s item. Of course he doesn’t want to get the book, but only within the book is the passage to send him back. Ash goofs up the magic words, and unleashed the dead onto these people. Will Ash stay to help them? Or will he back in S-Mart tagging sale items?
This movie is a horror/comedy classic, to be sure. There are so many great make up effects and gore gags, it’s hard to find a scene without one! It’s the combination of the two which make Army of Darkness so appealing, because the movie is so funny and bloody, it’s hard to take it seriously. And to take this seriously would be a mistake, because this movie is sheer satire, opening credits to closing credits. This slapstick approach to humor is immensely entertaining, to say the least. This is one of the movies I watch when I need a good laugh. But don’t get this expecting a straight forward horror flick, because you’ll disappointed here. While there are elements of horror, most of Army of Darkness relies on the sharp tongue of Ash and the interactions between him and the others. It may seem boring to focus so much on one guy, but Ash is no normal guy. He’s sick and tired of dead people giving him hassles, and he kicks some tail in this movie. This disc is a great chance to pick up the director’s cut of this movie, if you missed out on the double disc set a while back. I think this disc belongs in the collection of any Evil Dead maniac and as such, highly recommend it.
Directing is Sam Raimi, who also directs the original Evil Dead and the third film in the series Army of Darkness. Raimi’s work can be also be seen in For Love of the Game, A Simple Plan, Darkman, and The Quick and the Dead. The acting is decent on the whole and while this isn’t classical style in motion, the actors capture the tone and pace of the flick very well. Ash is such a likable character, and is played with mastery by Bruce Campbell (The Hudsucker Proxy), who plays Ash in all three Evil Dead films. Ash’s frequent turns into desperation are so funny to watch, as he goes from crying to laughing desperately to crying again. Ash is one of the true icons of the horror genre, and seems to get better with each film in the series. His over the top fight scenes are the highlight here, but he is terrific throughout. The cast also includes such talented workers as Embeth Davidtz (The Gingerbread Man, Mansfield Park), Timothy Patrick Quill (Next Of Kin, Hamburger Hill), Marcus Gilbert (Rambo III, Tv’s Dr. Who), Ian Abercrombie (The Lost World, Wild Wild West), Richard Grove (Point Break, Money Train), and Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown, Single White Female).
Video: How does it look?
Army Of Darkness: Director’s Cut is presented in a 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This one looks pretty rough at times, even in scenes taken right from the theatrical cut. The added footage, and footage that surrounds it, is from weak source elements and that causes some grain and other problems to surface during those moments. I know better source materials exist (as seen on television) and I am unsure why Anchor Bay didn’t seek those elements out for this release. The washed out added footage is the only blemish though, the majority of the rest of the footage looks terrific. It’s a shame though that we can’t have the director’s cut of this film with the best possible elements.
Audio: How does it sound?
This disc uses a 2.0 surround track which offers a nice sound, but I still prefer the full 5.1 remix used on the theatrical cut of this film. The music comes through well and all, but it just lacks the full scope the 5.1 track offers. It still sounds very good though, so no major complaints. The sound effects sound much flatter in this version, with the only really range showing up in the final battle scenes. The dialogue is crisp and clear though, no problems on that front in the least. The theatrical version sounds better, but this one isn’t too bad either in the end.
Supplements: What are the extras?
On this terrific director’s cut disc, you get a whole boatload of goodies! Right off the bat, you get 15 minutes of extra footage, including the original ending, edited back into the movie. Not enough for you? How about a side splitting running commentary with Sam and Ivan Raimi along with Bruce Campbell? The commentary is hilarious to be sure, but you won’t gather a lot of behind the scenes information, just a lot of laughs. The included storyboards are also excellent, because you can run them while the movie plays! Pretty cool, huh? You’ll also find some concept sketches and four deleted scenes, also welcome additions.