Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Ash Wednesday, where we look at the films in the Evil Dead series to prep ourselves for the premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead. You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who would like to remind you that the undead hordes aren’t always going to fight fair.
Today’s film offering: Army of Darkness
Andy: So we thought Evil Dead was weird and Evil Dead 2 was awesome. What do we think of the third in the trilogy? Weeell…
So at the end of Evil Dead 2 the evil was defeated, but at the cost of our eponymous hero being sent back in time. The legendary hero who was mentioned in the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis turned out to be none other than Ash himself!
Lilly: Twist! I guess! Not really!
Andy: Unfortunately the locals aren’t pleased to see him, and he’s immediately hauled off to enslavement and probable death at the hands of the ‘Deadites’ – the possessed people from the last two films finally getting a name. Of course, being a manly man of action, he escapes, regains his ‘boom-stick’ and sets off on a quest to retrieve the Necronomicon, defeat the Deadites, and somehow get home.
The first thing that is apparent is that there’s been a jarring shift in tone. The change of setting is certainly a factor, but this plays out much, much closer to a dark fantasy film than a straight-up horror. The horror itself is toned down, and the comedy side is ramped way, way up.
Lilly: I guess. Not really.
Andy: The trouble, for me at least, is that the blending of horror and comedy is what made Evil Dead 2 so good. Evil Dead was light on the comedy side, and becomes almost dull and gruelling in the latter half. This film shows that knocking out the other strut doesn’t do the series any favours either.
Lilly: Hands up, I didn’t like this film. It just was too…ridiculous. Zany? Do people say ‘zany’ anymore? Because I am saying it in regards to this. How long was that mini Ash scene? I get it, it is funny because there are tiny Ashlings everywhere, and they are evil, and whatever. Ha ha, they can use a fork as a weapon. Like. Seriously? What was even happening here? It was like a filler scene while they set up the actual plot or something. They knew they could just, you know, turn the camera off and set up, right? I felt distracted, not entertained, and that’s a bummer.
Andy: Yeah, this film has one thing in abundance that you can sort-of level as a criticism in the trilogy as a whole – filler. Trouble is here, the stakes feel lower, so the gaps are more noticeable.
Lilly: Ash, as well, was not the Ash either of the prior two films portrayed. First, he was a nice guy who got a bum deal re: a cabin vacation. Then, he was a sarcastic smarm monster who had a rough go of it. In this film, he’s a slapstick asshole who has all sorts of bravado and no brains. When did he become an idiot, is my question. Like, going mad from his loss is one thing, as we see in Evil Dead 2 but when he messed up the incantation before taking the book? I mean. That was pretty important. You should probably remember that. And what was the plot line with the girl? What was that? Her evil makeup was boss, but really? Really.
Andy: Part of what made the previous two so enjoyable was that Ash was so relatable. He’s not the sharpest page in the Liber Daemonica, but his heart was always in the right place. Here, he just comes across like an arrogant jackass. Which would be fine, but I didn’t find him to be a particularly funny arrogant jackass. Humour is as subjective as horror, I guess, but here? It all feels kind of lazy. The hits are very, very few and far between for this viewer.
Lilly: You know my favourite part? The Undead Deadite army. I mean. They were great. I will get behind marching skeletons any. Day. And the makeup effects were pretty awesome. The guys in the creature workshop and makeup department deserve all the thumbs up. Besides that, though…Meh.
Andy: Yeah, I’m gonna have to say you can probably skip this one. What’s weird is this one is generally really well regarded – people love this movie. I don’t know if it’s in a so-bad-it’s-good way (which would make me sad because Evil Dead 2 is ACTUALLY good) or they’re just seeing something I don’t. Wouldn’t be the first time, I guess.