Army of Darkness (1992)

Director: Sam Raimi

Well, I said I’d need to see this after Evil Dead II, and, thanks to SBS (who aired the film last night; I recorded it for later viewing) I now have done so… more precisely, I appear to have seen the director’s cut. The film’s IMDB entry lists a bewildering array of alternate versions and one day I dare say I’ll be able to read it without getting a headache from trying, but I’m gathering what I just saw was Raimi’s preferred edit. ANYWAY, Ash is more sorely beset in this film than ever before, facing various threats posed by disgruntled medieval warriors, his own demonic double, the titular army, slightly ropey process photography and post-production tampering by Universal (who’d stumped up half the budget). At least this time the film looks like it’s had some money thrown at it, even if in the end it still wasn’t enough for all Raimi’s ambitions, the eventual appearance of the army of deadites makes for a remarkable spectacle… Again, he gets great mileage out of Bruce Campbell (whose Ash has a distinct tinge of madness to him in this film; I imagine that if I’d been through the shit he has by this time I’d be a little crazed too), what a terrific, game performer he is and what gurning he can do. And if I still doubt the precise tone of The Evil Dead, this one is pretty unambiguously skewed towards humour; there’s something… I don’t know, kind of juvenile (for want of a better word) about the forces of evil in the series, and Raimi really ramps that aspect up to the level of cartoon here. It’s all quite fun, obviously never takes itself remotely seriously, and yet something about it seemed slightly lacking and I can’t work out what or why. Maybe that “visceral” element the first film has. Maybe the compactness the first two films have. This one does seem to flop about a bit more at times. It’s good, but I’m not hugely blown away by it.

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