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Army of Darkness
Bruce Campbell is an extremely gifted character actor with a knack for selecting odd, often sci fi – related roles that no “serious” actor would touch. The man has a filmography as long as your arm, which includes movies like Bubba Ho Tepp, where Campbell plays a geriatric Elvis doing battle with an evil mummy in a nursing home, to doing the voice of mayor Shelbourne in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. He currently plays the role of retired navy SEAL Sam Axe on the television series Burn Notice. The role Bruce Cambpell is best known for, however, is that of Ash, a somewhat dense, muscle-bound former convenience store clerk, in the cult classic film Army of Darkness.
Army of Darkness, which is actually the third in a trilogy of low budget horror movies which includes Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, was originally released in 1992. Its budget was $13 million. It tells the tale of how Ash gets sucked through a mystical portal which deposits him in medieval England where he must, armed with nothing but a shotgun and a chainsaw, make war on an army of demonic undead creatures.
It is directed by the incomparable Sam Raimi, the man responsible for such films as The Quick and the Dead, Spiderman I, II and III, The Gift, and A Simple Plan. Raimi actually made his name as a director with The Evil Dead, which was made for around $400,000. And while Raimi may have gone on to direct films like Spiderman, he always seems to return to his old cinematic stomping ground, low budget horror films.
Army of Darkness is a very odd and extremely campy movie, but really, how could a film about a man using a chainsaw to kill demons during the high middle ages not be campy? It is actually a dark comedy. Campbell seems to realize this and doesn’t take his role as the arrogant, clueless protagonist too seriously. The scene where he attempts to retrieve a mystical tome from a graveyard is particularly amusing, as is the scene in the house in the woods.
Playing opposite Bruce Campbell as Ash’s hapless love interest is Embeth Davitz (Schindler’s List, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Matilda, Bicentennial Man, Fracture). Marcus Gilbert (Rambo 3) does a great turn as an overly formal English Lord and Richard Grove (Lois and Clark: the New Adventures of Superman, Babylon 5, Point Break) does a wonderful job as the Scottish Duke Henry the Red. Everyone in the supporting cast of this film seem to take their roles very, very seriously, which of course makes Ash’s often juvenile antics seem even more ridiculous.
This is a good film. If you can cope with the somewhat cheezy dialogue, and have a fondness for evil and stop action skeletons, then this movie is for you. If not, well, you should most definitely give this clever little horror film a pass.