31 Days of Halloween – Day 17 – Army of Bruce Campbell
Horror comedy is alive and well on this blog, and Army of Darkness is finally a good one. I first saw this movie when I was quite a bit younger and it was different from anything else. Bruce Campbell is a cheesy hero, and the movie has plenty of one-liners to make sure that comes across.
The strange thing about Army of Darkness is how different it is from Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. I guess it has a similar tone, but the jokes and the humor are turned up to 11. The acting is twice as good as any in the first two Evil Dead movies and the plot is better. It’s also fun.
Bruce Campbell puts on a good performance as a comedy lead. I think the best characterization is that he doesn’t want to be there. It’s a classic anti-hero stance, because he eventually comes around and kicks all kinds of ass.
Army of Darkness borrows heavily from other movies. Probably the most obvious impact on Army of Darkness is from Jason and the Argonauts, as Ash battles animate skeletons. There’s tons of other references, as Ash is dropped into an English landscape, but it’s in the desert, not England. The setting is confusing.
Army of Darkness repeats the Ash versus himself as in the previous movies, but Bruce Campbell doubles as his evil self to really make this come alive. I also like the Ash versus mini-Ash moment, as that is fun and goofy. In fact, most of this movie is goofy. Return of the Living Dead is also goofy, but Army of Darkness seems more well-regarded, maybe because it has less gore and stupid 80s references than a zombie movie made in 1985.
Roger Ebert gave Army of Darkness two stars because he believed it used recycled material from Evil Dead II, which he felt was a better movie. It’s hard for me to decide whether Evil Dead II is really better or not, but Army of Darkness definitely is more entertaining and has better effects. The make-up alone is one-of-a-kind.
In all, this is a good movie. It’s probably not the first one I’d pull out on Halloween, but works as a throwback and horror comedy. The film itself is rough around the edges, and you can tell it has been storyboarded, as it tries to pace itself out between action set pieces. I think the movie excels at keeping the Evil Dead series alive and kicking. I’ve heard a lot of people complain that this movie looks cheap, but I think it isn’t that bad. What do you want, another cabin in the woods?
31. Poltergeist (1982) vs Poltergeist (2015)
30. Blair Witch Project (1999)
29. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
28. The Wicker Man (1973) and The Wicker Man Remake
27. Tales from the Darkside, the Movie (1990)
26. Saw (2004)
25. The Prophecy (1995)
24. The Hills have Eyes (1977)
23. House of the Long Shadows (1983)
22. Creepshow (1982)
21. Phantasm (1979)
20. The Omen (1976) vs Damien: The Omen II
19. We Are Still Here (2015)
18. The Guest
17. Return of the Living Dead (1985)
15. The House that Dripped Blood (1971)
14. Army of Darkness (1992)
13. In the Mouth of Madness (1994)
12. Friday the 13th Part III
11. Theater of Blood (1973)
10. House of Wax (1953) vs House of Wax (2005)
9. Hellraiser Inferno (2000)
8. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
7. The Changeling (1980)
6. The Eye (2002)
5. The Hitcher (1986)
4. Paranormal Activity (2007)
3. 28 Days Later (2003)
2. Suspiria (1977)
1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) – This review will be published October 31st!