|ARMY OF DARKNESS
|Copyright 1992 Dino De Laurentiis Communications
| Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 7 February 2009 (updated)
- Ash - Our legendary demon-slaying, lady-killing, chainsaw-wielding, S-Mart employee. Oh, and he also accidentally invented breakdancing by slipping on milk curd.
- Sheila - She knows that the best way to catch a man's eye is to slap the snot out of him. She also knows that the best way to keep a man is to bear him male children, and not to have syphilis.
- Arthur - Noble born leader of the blighted lands, a real goody-goody two-shoes.
- Wiseman - One of the worst things about the dark ages is that the world was filled with all sorts of evil spirits, fantastic monsters, and eldritch magic. The Wiseman's job was to know the weakness of every possible supernatural peril. "Silver weapons, running water, garlic, a charm made from the toe of a saint" - those sorts of things. Everybody else knew that the old freaks were just making it up as they went along, but nobody cared, so long as the wards worked.
- Duke Henry - Red haired and bearded leader of the northern kingdoms.
- Bad Ash - Created after Ash swallows a tiny version of himself, then grows two heads, then splits into two people...oh forget it, he's an evil and rotting version of Ash. Turned into a firework.
- Little Ash's - These miniature menaces terrorize Ash for a while. Some get stomped, one gets eaten.
- The Army of the Dead - Hundreds of skeletons that are chopped to bits, blown apart, or crushed.
|The beginning of "Army of Darkness" makes a slight adjustment to the end of Evil Dead 2. Originally, Ash is sucked through the wormhole, gets dumped out somewhere in time south of the Renaissance, blasts a flying Deadite, and is immediately worshipped as a delivering saint by a group of medieval warriors. Here we have Ash mistaken as part of Duke Henry's army, the force that Lord Arthur has just routed from the field of battle. Poor Ash finds himself a prisoner of Lord Arthur, locked in a stock and told to schlep it along.
Back in those days there were not any federally-funded maximum security prisons. Heck, there were not even any small continents or large islands so that a country of Queen-loving citizens could banish their criminals (and the criminals' children, and their children, and so on) to lifelong incarceration upon the too-big-for-an-island / sort-of-small-to-be-a-continent. Lord Arthur's solution to this conundrum is that the last of Duke Henry's men are to be tossed into the Pit. Inside the Pit are Deadites. Obviously, Ash does not want to go into the Pit, but that is exactly where he gets pushed. Things look really bad for our hero, but the Wiseman tosses Ash his chainsaw as a Deadite closes in for the kill. Armed with his trusty chainsaw, Ash is more than a match for any demon. The Deadite quickly becomes just plain old dead.
After he climbs out of the pit, Ash recovers his sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, and then berates the unwashed masses of medieval citizenry (nobles, serfs, and vassals). The good Lord Arthur finds it difficult to say no to a man who carries a boomstick and who eats soul-eating Deadites for lunch. The nobleman can only glare as Ash takes up residence in the central keep, and sets about enjoying the service of the serving wenches. Even a surprise visit by a Deadite hag just further cements Ash in place as a royal thorn in Arthur's royal side.
For his part, Ash effectively tells Arthur and the Wiseman that they can have the Middle Ages. All that Ash wants to do is go home. He does take a break from yearning for 1992 long enough to construct a mechanical iron hand to replace the one he lost in "Evil Dead 2." He also puts aside his animosity towards Sheila (they had a rough start) and starts making it with the "Doth do maketh my heart warm with thy presence" sort of stuff.
I am not sure why Ash insists on returning to the present. Maybe he wants to avoid cholera, syphilis, and the Black Plague, but he will be doing that at the expense of a lot of quality time that could be spent eating grapes and wenching. Ah, wenching. Out of everything the Middle Ages stood for, I miss wenching the most. If you ever make it to 784 AD, make sure that you sample the wenches.
The Wiseman finally convinces Ash that the only way he can ever get back home is by undertaking a quest to recover the Necromonicon from a haunted graveyard. Now, Ash is an extremely groovy kind of guy, but he has a hard enough time staying out of Deadite-spawned trouble in his own living room. Mucking around in the land of the dead is going to have serious consequences. The first of those is that Ash gets chased around the haunted forest that is near the haunted graveyard by invisible motorcycles. The second issue created by Ash's foray into the world of spirits, spells, and specters takes place inside an old windmill. A shattered mirror turns into a mob of tiny troublemaking Ash clones! They poke him with forks, drop things on his head, and generally make Ash wish that he had never had children of any sort. Once he gets the little hellions under control, Ash then has to deal with his alternate Deadite ego, Bad Ash.
One boomstick later, there is only one Ash standing. He is a bad-a**, but not Bad Ash.
Ash does finally reach the graveyard and recover the book (after dealing with two cursed imitation tomes). However, he does not correctly take possession of the Book of the Dead. Yep, Ash flubs "klaatu barada nikto." As a result, the dead are woken from their endless sleep. Hundreds of skeletons assemble themselves into a massive army, with Bad Ash assuming command as the undead horde's general. Now Lord Arthur has something worse than the proto-Scots and Deadite intrusions to deal with. Social Security was not created until the 20th Century; figuring out what to do about hundreds of the walking dead who refuse to stay in their graves is a big problem for a medieval noble.
Actually, Arthur and Ash decide to solve the problem the way that most problems were solved during the Middle Ages: they will have a battle!
To prepare for the battle, Ash and the other defenders of Arthur's castle turn to the textbooks that were in the trunk of Ash's car (the vehicle was also sucked back in time). I must say, Ash pursued some unusual subjects in college. How often does someone get to say, "That semester of 'Steam Power 101' really paid off!" in their life? Unfortunately, the hero has to make his preparations for Ragnarok without indulging in the time-honored tradition of pre-battle nookie, because Sheila is whisked away by a Deadite gargoyle. The next time that Ash sees his gentle lady, she is a Deadite witch and a real ball-breaker.
The Army of Darkness that attacks the castle finds itself on the receiving end of exploding arrows, catapult-lobbed bombs, and even a car that looks like the result of an Oldsmobile having sex with a windmill. Bones are crushed by the human defenders, but the walls are eventually breached, and Ash has a final skin-shedding reckoning with Bad Ash. The evil army is routed, and the only thing left for Ash to do is to go home to his own time. There are two different endings to this movie. In one, we see Ash back at S-Mart, defending the customers and employees from a surprise Deadite incursion. In the other, Ash hits the Rip Van Winkle bottle a little too much and sleeps well past doomsday.
I like "Evil Dead 2" more than "Army of Darkness." Yet, this is an entertaining cult film. You could even call it a gruesomely groovy comedy. The movie is filled with Three Stooges-style slapstick, and the head-bangs and eye-pokes are so well done that I get nostalgic to watch some old Stooges' shorts. Still, the reason that everybody loves Ash is that he has some great lines, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Stallone and Schwarzenegger action films of the 1980s, and he delivers them with style.
|Things I Learned From This Movie:|| |
- In ye olde days "public transportation" meant being chained to the nobleman's horse and dragged along behind him.
- Knights often fall for the old "your shoelace is untied" trick.
- Department store employees know how to construct robotic limbs.
- The difference between an ear and a pancake is academic.
- Stonehenge was a public library.
- Never mumble the magic words.
- Jay Leno's chin is the product of an unfortunate childhood accident involving a vacuum.
- No ex-girlfriend is worth wrecking your car over.
- When wrestling a skeleton, always remember that they are vulnerable to the backbreaker.
- 5 mins - You know, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" would have been more interesting if the main guy had found a chainsaw instead of that bottle.
- 10 mins - That guy obviously suffered from high blood pressure.
- 18 mins - Pretty cheap for a double-barreled shotgun. Hey, did the barrel length just change?
- 21 mins - You sound like my grandmother.
- 26 mins - Detroit?
- 32 mins - We have gone from "The Amazing Colossal Man" to "Gulliver's Travels" to "The Manster" and now we are on "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant." What is next, "The Birds?"
- 38 mins - Oops, looks like you found the dreaded Hoovernomicon: The Book of the Suck.
- 51 mins - For a moment there I was worried that a song was coming on.
- 53 mins - Skeletal musicians: +1 combat result.
- 65 mins - Amy Winehouse?
| ||Audio clips in wav format||SOUNDS||Starving actors speak out|| |
||Duke Henry: "I am Henry the Red. Duke of Shale, Lord of the Northlands, and leader of its peoples." |
Ash: "Well, hello Mr. Fancy Pants! I got news for you, pal. You ain't leading but two things right now: jack and s**t, and jack left town."
Ash: "Yeah. All right you primitive screwheads, listen up. See this? This is my BOOMSTICK!"
||Ash tries to BS his way through saying the magic words.
||Deadite Sheila: "You found me beautiful once." |
Ash: "Honey, you got real ugly."
Deadite Sheila: *SHRIEKS*
Note: most women will respond this way to a similar conversation.
| ||Click for a larger image||IMAGES||Scenes from the movie|| |
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