I love Bruce Campbell.
Now I know I’m not the first person to utter these words and won’t be the last, he’s kinda like Vincent Price meets Jim Carrey. My buddy and nemesis Matt agreed with this, but added that Bruce is also funny. I think this a tad harsh on Jim to be honest. ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE, the first one, was hilarious at the time and I have a bit of a soft spot for ME, MYSELF, AND IRENE…… He was appalling as The Joker though, there’s no arguing with that one.
I was first exposed to Bruce a few weeks back when David Nicklen (a work colleague) had me round to his to enjoy a double bill of his choosing which consisted of THE EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD II. He was shocked that I’d never seen the films, especially as I’m a child of the “video nasty” generation.
The first picture impressed me as it had obviously been done with very little cash but excelled in being genuinely frightening (in parts) and achieving gory special effects that looked believable. I love when the ingenuity of the filmmaker almost becomes its own character. Part 2 very obviously had more money thrown at it but, although taking a more comedic angle, is still a great picture.
……….. Last night I watched part 3: ARMY OF DARKNESS.
In this film Sam Raimi gives up on the original idea of trying to scare us and produces a comedy which, although has its roots in the horror genre, is closer to slapstick and, in the extreme, complete silliness. It shouldn’t do, but it works.
The reason I say it shouldn’t is that it deviates so severely from the first 2 pictures. There was definite hints to the direction it was going in the second film but this was (mostly, there were a couple of amusing scenes) due to a more extreme style of acting which gave the whole picture a “hammy” feel, hence the Vincent Price comparison. What’s strange (and nice) about AOD is that the acting is toned down a little and replaced with actual out and out comedy scenes.
The fight scene in the pit is well constructed, as is the large battle towards the end. You can really see Raimi pushing the scale of the picture which obviously put him in good stead for his superhero outings some years later. I’m also a huge fan of that low steadycam(?) shot that flies through the forrest in all 3 films. In this one there’s trees splitting down their length and the camera goes between the split. Very nice indeed. The wide angle lens used up close is also applied to good effect in various scenes.
There is a story holding all this madness together:
Ash, having been sucked into a time vortex at the end of part 2, finds himself in the year 1308. Luckily, his car, double barrelled shotgun and chainsaw arm attachment all made it through which prove handy as the picture progresses.
He immediately finds himself fingered as an ally of the enemy by a mob that pick him up and is, naturally, sentenced to be thrown into a pit where two grotesque members of the undead are waiting to shred him to a bloody mess as soon as he hits the bottom. Ash easily picks off these ugly beasts using his chainsaw, kindly thrown to him by an elder who thinks he’s “the one” (mentioned in a prophesy) who falls from the sky and frees them from an evil that has befallen them……
All perfectly plausible so far.
Ash is then tasked with killing two birds with one stone, as the only way to break the “spell” (I can’t think of a better word, sorry) AND get home is to embark on a quest to obtain and return with the ancient Necronomicon (book of the dead) which will banish the evil, and give instructions to get Ash back to good ol’ 1981. It’s like BACK TO THE FUTURE on Ketamine.
All doesn’t go to plan.
There’s no real need to see the first 2 films before seeing this one as it has nothing at all to do with any continuation of the story. It is great fun though and these movies, along with some other notables I’ve watched of late, are changing my mind on the horror genre, of which I’ve not, at any point in my life, had a lot of time for.
The chosen scene is the first part of the battle between Ash and co and the undead. It doesn’t take a genius to spot the influence of Ray Harryhausen, it could be JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS.
Incidentally, NBC Universal have taken exception to me uploading this clip which seems stupid as I’m using it to PROMOTE THEIR MATERIAL. As a result, our American viewers will be faced with a blank screen. Anyone else having problems can find the video by clicking this link: