Army of Darkness

Trapped in the Middle Ages, Ash (Bruce Campbell) is back as the man whose chin grows in every incarnation, begging the question of why he’s never played Mitt Romney.

The third Evil Dead movie strays from horror into the world of Dino De Laurentiis; a sword-and-sorcery comedy that’s more ConAsh the Barbarian than the original’s Exorcist-on-acid vibe, but retains the spirit of Sam Raimi’s whirlwind creation. That same weirdness, mayhem and slapstick pervade this 1992 fantasy feature, even if the directorial style feels more restrained and the violence more playground-inspired; eye-jabs, fish-hooks, everything but the wet-willy (isn’t that a pop group?). The blood is diminished but the budget increased, giving Raimi unprecedented access to things like sets and a cast.

Continuing his pattern of saving the day from evil he himself releases by accident, Ash evolves once again into a first-rate dickhead who speaks exclusively in cheesy one-liners like a disabled wrestler (“Gimme some sugar baby”), but gets away with it by being the butt of the joke in every scene. Army of Darkness also marks Embeth Davidtz’s (Matilda, Bridget Jones’s Diary) first film role, but it’s the army of Ray Harryhausen-style skellingtons who make this such an enjoyable romp, not to mention an inspiration for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Departing from the cabin that first defined the series makes this a strange ending but a satisfying one, and easier to appreciate in light of the brilliant Ash vs Evil Dead TV show, proving that there’s still life in the Deadites yet.

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