Play It Again: Evil Dead 3 – Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness

By Jess Lomas
October 23, 2013

Play It Again is a weekly feature in which our classic-film connoisseurs revisit a revered motion picture from the annals of movie history, to see if it holds up … or if it has aged terribly. And yes, it takes its name from a famously misquoted Casablanca line. (Hey, whatever. It fits!) This month, we herald Halloween with horror movies!

Sam Raimi takes comedy-horror to the extreme with Evil Dead 3 – Army of Darkness, an over-the-top fantasy sequel that seems more intent on pulling lame gags than scaring its audience.

For the uninitiated, the film provides a recap in its opening minutes to bring you up to speed on our hero Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) journey to acquiring his chainsaw arm. We quickly learn his battle with the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead, has seen him lose his love interest and his right hand, and it now pulls him through a time portal with his car to 1300AD.

Army of Darkness

Once the locals, led by Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert), discover him, they suspect him of colluding with their enemy Duke Henry the Red (Richard Grove), and Ash is sent marching to the death pit where he must fight two deadites for his life. Thanks to the local Wiseman (Ian Abercrombie), who believes Ash is predestined to save them from evil, his chainsaw is returned to him and he arises from the pit victorious. He strikes a bargain with Arthur: he will help retrieve the Necronomicon to conquer the evil for good, in exchange for the Wiseman sending him back to his time.

It’s not surprising to learn the picture has become a cult favourite over the years. With its nonsensical plot and outrageous dialogue making it perfect fodder for midnight movies and Halloween marathons, it hardly matters that it’s not frightening in the slightest.

The hero – both in the story and as the feature’s saving grace – is Campbell’s performance as the narcissistic and tenacious Ash, who spouts such gems as “Yo, she-bitch, let’s go!” and proposes, “Give me some sugar baby” to the local beauty Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) mere moments after verbally abusing her.

Evil Dead 3 – Army of Darkness is surprisingly absurd and catches you off guard, delivering shock-laughs with a level of physical comedy akin to The Three Stooges or Home Alone. The picture becomes more outlandish and in turn more fun as it goes on, although there’s no mistaking the cheap laughs for a quality film.

2.5/5

Evil Dead 3 – Army of Darkness is available on Quickflix

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