Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: Army of Darkness

For the remainder of October, I'll be posting a series of capsule reviews of horror films and thrillers to coincide with the festivities of All Hallows' Eve.

I'll begin with one of my all-time favorites:

Army of Darkness -- aka Evil Dead 3 (1992) **** out of 5 asterisks
Director: Sam Raimi (who also co-wrote the script)
Starring: Bruce Campbell (no one else really matters, although this film does have a great supporting cast)

This multi-genre horror/comedy manages a balance between scary, silly and campy that's very entertaining to watch thanks to Bruce Campbell's performance, Sam Raimi's direction, the aforementioned strong supporting cast, and great make-up and creature effects. Highly recommended for horror fans, and required viewing for all Bruce Campbell fans.

Additional thoughts:

Some horror fans contend that you should watch the first two Evil Dead films before seeing this one, but I think it recaps well enough in the opening to stand on its own. (But you should definitely watch the first two after watching Army of Darkness to see the series as a whole.)

Although the first two films are considered horror cult classics and are generally rated higher than Army of Darkness, I like the third film a lot more than the first two. I tend to favor horror comedies, and Army of Darkness is easily the most comedic of the three. Bruce Campbell makes the first two worth watching, and I also admire what Sam Raimi was able to accomplish with Evil Dead on a budget of only $375K.

But I love Army of Darkness. It's like a mash-up of the best elements of Jason & The Argonauts, The Three Stooges, and Night of the Living Dead. It's The Princess Bride of the horror genre: it contains multiple genre elements and entertains on multiple levels.

It's also one of few horror films which takes place in Medieval Times, which seems ironic when you consider that it was a very scary period in history.

And be sure to watch the alternate ending available on certain releases of the film on DVD and Blu-Ray, but I should caution that the 2009 Blu-Ray version was not well-received by fans, film critics or DVD/BR collectors due to the disappointing digital transfer.

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