From the low budget hardcore horror nastiness of The Evil Dead, to the superior horror/comedy hybrid sequel Evil Dead II, and now with the high spirited Army of Darkness, director Sam Raimi has evolved from an innovative director with an abundance of potential to a high class filmmaker who holds a distinctive style and a deft hand in various genres.
Containing less of the blood soaked insanity of the previous two instalments, Army of Darkness comes off as more of an adventure film with a horror element attached to it. It is much lighter in tone, and also more polished in its photography when compared to its gritty predecessors.
Also, Raimi’s love for slapstick comedy comes to the forefront, with a number of Three Stooges inspired comedy sequences scattered throughout featuring an in form Bruce Campbell.
Army of Darkness continues straight after Evil Dead II, where Ash (Bruce Campbell) has been transported back to medieval times and must again do battle against the evil force resurrected via the Book of The Dead. In order to secure passage back to his own time, Ash must locate the Book of the Dead and recite a spell which (of course) he naturally screws up, in turn mistakenly raising an army of darkness in the process.
Yet despite Ash’s clumsy nature, he does come across as an effective action hero, slaying zombies left and right with shot gun and chainsaw in tow, while mouthing off some great zingers.
As with the previous film make up effects are great, whilst the visual effects are dated with its trick photography and stop motion animation. A bigger budget gives way to better sets and costumes.
An open ended conclusion leaves open the titillating prospect of a sequel, which has unfortunately yet to be made. Hopefully Raimi, Campbell and co. will get something going soon, because this franchise is just way too fun to stop now and they are not getting any younger.