Klaatu Burlada Niktoo! Yes, it’s Burl, here to review a movie for you, as I so often enjoy to do! Now here’s a movie I’ve been fond of for quite a few years, though I confess to being fonder of its series forbears than of this picture itself! However, it’s still a tremendous lot of fun, and the movie of course is the third in the Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness!
It’s a curious little trio, because each picture has a different tone, and each to some extent must repeat or at least recap what has come before for those who have not seen the earlier entry, or entries; and at the same time must serve those who like all three! For the record, I love the first one, but am fonder still of the second, which I managed to see in the theatre on opening night by sneaky means! This third adventure of the hapless Ash against the army of Deadites is by almost every measure - budget, spectacle, and laff-count excepted - the least of the three!
The overarching story involves Ash, played by Bruce Campbell from Maniac Cop and The Hudsucker Proxy, a slightly dim shopman who goes on a weekend vacation to a cabin in the woods, fights devils, and is whisked by a vortex back to medieval England! There he must fight more devils and quest for a copy of the unholy Necronomicon, the all-purpose demon book that contains a spell which the local wizard, played by Ian Abercrombie from Von Ryan’s Express and The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood, can use to send our man Ash back to his position in housewares at S-Mart!
Of course the plot is not the thing here, ha ha! It’s all about the goofery, and the goofery in question is turbo-powered by director Sam Raimi’s great love for the Three Stooges! I share this love, so the poinks and slaps and facewashings which Ash endures, and sometimes dishes out, go a long mile with me! The amazing amount of punishment poor Ash is subjected to is the running joke in all the Evil Dead pictures, and it’s a good one!
Ha ha, and at times, this picture recalls one of the Ray Harryhausen Sinbad movies, or Jason and the Argonauts, except there’s no ship’s crew or Argonauts along, just Ash! We get little showcase segments like Ash fighting miniature versions of himself that have arisen from shards of mirror; Ash splitting in two; Ash trying to claim the book but forgetting the words of his magic spell; and then a whole lot of action japery once it becomes a castle siege!
The picture has all sorts of attractions, like the old-style trick effects, the goofy-gruesome monster design, the uproarious tough-guy dialogue, and of course a special cameo appearance from Bridget Fonda, whom we recall from Single White Female! Campbell pulls off the role of Ash as few others could, and his willingness to be abused by his director is admirable! Ha ha, it’s a rollicking, old-fashioned good time at the movies! I give Army of Darkness three requests for sugar!