Army of Darkness (1992) – Welcome to the Ash Williams show -or: From horror to comedy in one franchise

The last part of the trilogy and it increases the level of absurdity even more compared to part two and goes completely nuts.

At the end of Evil Dead II, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell in a fantastically cynical performance) is teleported to the Middle Ages, along with his car and his weapons. He is captured by Lord Arthur’s knights who think him to be working for their enemy, Duke Henry. He is thrown into a pit where he kills a Deadite in a gripping fight with some hilarious over-the-top moments during which he is handed his weapons by the Wise Man, who appears to understand Ash is a special person.

army
Ash and his Boom Stick, Copyright: see bottom of page

According to the Wise Man, the only possibility for Ash to return to his time is to find the Necronomicon. It is essential that he memorizes the phrase “Klaatu barada nikto”. On his journey to find the book, he has to fight little evil versions of himself. After arriving at the place, Ash, who didn’t take the Wise Man fully seriously, obviously can’t remember the words in another iconic scene and tries to cough and mumble the last word. He takes the Necronomicon and returns to the castle. He can’t return to his time and is followed by the titular Army of Darkness as he didn’t perform the ritual correctly. This battle scene was very entertaining and funny due to the many anachronisms, be it Ash’s fighting style or his creative use of modern tools.

With this movie, Raimi definitively crossed the border to comedy and the last horror elements stem from the presence of the Necronomicon. The middle third with his quest to find the Necronomicon wasn’t that interesting but the rest of the movie was perfectly entertaining. Ash Williams has become an iconic character at the latest in this movie and is very compelling with his arrogant and cynical manner. The viewer also sympathizes with him as he has to go through all this trouble without any rest. On a similar trash level as the other two movies, it wins over the audience by its over-the-topness and self-irony and that is why I consider every part of the trilogy a cult classic.

4v5


shorter German version:

Armee der Finsternis erhöht das Absurditätslevel von Evil Dead 2 und dreht völlig am Rad. Die erste Hälfte ist super; inzwischen hat man echt Mitleid mit Ash und deswegen kann man seinen Zynismus sehr gut nachvollziehen. Der Kampf in der Grube ist super, mit einigen tollen Over-the-Top-Momenten . Danach kommt die legendäre Szene mit dem Spruch, den sich Ash merken soll, nach der allerdings kurz die Luft etwas raus ist, weil die Skelette auf dem Friedhof echt verdammt mies aussehen und auch wenig interessant sind. Im finalen Kampf nimmt der Film wieder an Fahrt auf, was vor allem (und hier zahlt sich das Setting aus) an den vielen Anachronismen liegt, sei es Ashs Kampfstil oder der Einsatz seiner neuzeitlichen Hilfsmittel. Ich musste einige Male echt herzhaft lachen und war größtenteils unterhalten. Sam Raimi hat hier endgültig die Grenze zur Komödie überquert und die Horrorelemente entstehen mehr aus der Existenz des Necromonicons. Ash ist spästens hier ein echt ikonischer Charakter geworden und weiß durch seine arrogante und bissige Art zu überzeugen. Auf ähnlichem Trash-Level wie die anderen beiden Filme weiß der Film durch seine Over-the-Topness und Selbstironie zu überzeugen und somit ist jeder Teil der Reihe für mich Kult.


Images taken from imdb.com, © by Dino de Laurentiis Company/Renaissance Pictures/Universal Pictures

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