This has been a favorite of my family’s for years now. It’s such a delightful mix of slapstick and deadpan humor, along side some good creepy horror elements. Technically the third in a series of movies concocted by Sam Raimi and co, though it’s unnecessary to see those movies before viewing this one. I did watch Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 before I got to this one. But either I’ve changed enough, or the times have changed enough, or some combination of those for them to be fairly unpalatable to me. But Army of Darkness so far is still enjoyable to me.
One of the best things are the special effects. In the Evil Dead movies it’s quite obvious they are on an extremely limited budget, but the deadites are just excellent. Quite frankly, not a lot of those looks change that much into this film though I know Raimi had access to quite a bit more funds. A melding of zombie and demon, and an attitude of sadistic pleasure in torturing their victims both physically and mentally are what drive the movie. I enjoy a dash of dark humor in movies such as these, and that dark humor is what keeps Army of Darkness enjoyable and the Evil Dead films less so these days. The first one in particular takes itself far too seriously for my tastes. But Army glories in that dark humor – Ash often tends to take the lazy and selfish paths and the movie punishes him for those same tendencies. The scene where he arrives at the alter to spirit away the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis is notable. The words Klaatu Barada Nikto need to be recited before removing the book from the alter, and despite his cocky fit towards the wiseman earlier of course Ash has forgotten them. And thus Ash causes an army of deadites to resurrect in his fleeing wake.
Perhaps some of my enjoyment of this film is my certainty that Ash isn’t really viewed as a hero in the movie. Sure, he’s a reluctant hero that saves the day. But he is by no means an admirable figure. My rose colored glasses of nostalgia and enjoyment of the film’s many one-liners perhaps makes me unable to view it that critically. And part of this is almost certainly informed by the recent TV show Ash vs the Evil Dead (cancelled just earlier this year), where you can abundantly see what kind of man Ash turned into.
The beer for this film was Surly’s Pentagram, an excellent dark sour. Though not as potent of a sour as last night’s Changeling, it’s still got a good punch and a dark fruity taste to go with. Big bottle and a bit pricey, but certainly worth it.