Army of Darkness (Justin’s View) [retro viewing]

Listen up, you primative screwheads! We’re going to go into the world of Ash, and we’re not coming back until one of us is dead!

Special Note: This viewing follows the standard theatrical release of AOD, for time reference purposes.

0.28

    I love this music – heavy on the bass and utterly orchestral.

1.04

      From being a slave in the middle ages to S-Mart in two seconds… this entire opening sequence (the extended flashback of

ED1

      and

ED2

    ) is appropriately bizarre and intriguing. I first saw AOD before the first two films, and I must say this flashback sequence had me really, really confused. Like, what the hell did I just step into? But fortunately, whether you understand all this backstory or not, it doesn’t matter — the film makes fun sense anyway.

1.11

    “Ash to price check four” This is pretty much the only scene where Ash doesn’t have facial scars. Live it up while it lasts. Also, note the subtle sarcasm and repressed anger at his meager job with that “Shop S-Mart”. The boy’s got issues.

1.18

    Babe alert: Bridget Fonda (easily the prettiest “Linda” out of all three films)

2.03

    First sighting of “Evil Camera” (the unseen evil presence that we see only from its POV)

2.23

    True Evil Dead fans will of course notice that in ED2, Ash lops his hand off in the kitchen (with more blood), whereas in this flashback, it’s in the living room.

3.07

    I believe it’s been said before, but the opening credits are just gripping and quite fitting: “Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness”. Gives one a good idea of what to expect from this film, doesn’t it? No feminine issues, no soul searching — just cheesy special effects, lots of violence, and manliness out the wazoo!

5.08

    Quick thought: for mideval England, there’s very few people. Arthur’s and Henry’s men combined are less than 50 soldiers (as seen in the final battle sequence). I guess Kings just can’t shell out the bucks for extras, nowadays.

5.31

    My college friend Russ was eternally enamored with this transition between the chainsaw blade and the sun. I swear, every time we’d watch this flick, he’s always make some comment when this happened, to the effect of: “Wow… that’s so cool!” Russ is now married with a child. I hope he still thinks this is cool.

6.43

    For no reason whatsoever, some peasants are wheeling a catapult around. Guess it beats digging for turnips. And (at 6.45) let’s take a quick time-out to welcome this film’s floozy, Shelia. Nice braids, Punky Brewster.

6.52

    Does Arthur have two little satellite dishes hanging off the front of his armor there?

7.10

    It just kills me that even though his right arm is a stump, they still put it in the stocks. And that Ash hasn’t yet figured out to just puuuuull it out…

7.15

    Poor Ash gets whooped on by everyone: zombies, his undead girlfriend, tree monsters… and now children and ticked off women. So fitting.

7.40

    Wasn’t this big bald blacksmith the guy who fought Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Ah, the propeller blades (pth! pth! pth! pth!)

8.28

    Up to this point, Ash has a real shot of being the standard heroic action stud. But once we see his methods of diplomacy and gaining allies with Henry, ah, well, we know we’re in for something a little better than Ah-nold. Something else I should probably note here – notice that no matter how antagonistic Ash becomes, the people still love and befriend him anyway? He’s the coolest jerk on the planet.

9.11

    Watch the soldier on the left of Henry… he knows he’s got no lines, but boy is this kid hamming up the “restraining” role to the hilt! Looks like he’s giving Henry a hug.

10.18

    The geyser of blood is strangely hilarious, I don’t know why. Guy goes into the pit. Deadites are in the pit. Our Deadites.

10.42

    Crossbow Cam. The cheapest special effect ever. Ah, bless this film!

11.30

    A hero faces danger with a brave face. Ash does everything he can to weasel out of it… what makes it funny is that we probably would too.

12.30

    Okay, I know I shouldn’t expect this film to obey conventional rules, but the part in the Pit always bugs me. Why is his huge cavernous pit in the middle of castle grounds? Why are Deadites in it? Who took all the time to create the spikes thing? It’s just a really bizarre set that’s fun, but makes no sense.

12.34

    The hand silently coming out of the water in the foreground is about the creepiest thing in this movie. Nice touch.

12.53

    Ash’s battle with the first Deadite is the best one-on-one fight in the entire movie. It makes a sick sort of sense that Ash would be battling a female (dead as she is), and that he’d get his butt kicked too. Although I’ve seen this film too many times to be shocked when the Deadite leaps out of the water, watching Ash’s expression and his scaredy-cat scream brings back the memories.

14.05

    I’m not sure whether this is the coolest moment in the film, but when Ash leaps up and hooks into the chainsaw, I always get chills. You know once he gets this thing, he just can’t lose.

14.26

    I know I have this strange habit of looking at non-main characters, but check out the chick hanging on to Shelia’s arm and looking up at her while she says “Damn you”. Who is this woman? Is there an entire homosexual subtext that has gone completely ignored in the viewing of this movie? Am I reading into this way too much? Ah, forget it.

14.58

    Ash and his belt = shades of Indy Jones here? He could just grab onto the chain itself, but oh well.

16.26

    I love how pissed off Ash is here, he’s deliberately trying to pick a fight. “You want a little?”

17.17

    Ash does one of his only noble acts in this movie by letting Henry go. It just doesn’t suit him much.

17.41

    Watch how this sword-boy just goes down under Arthur’s heel. That’s comedy.

17.50

    All right, time out for a look at Ash’s shotgun. First of all, it doesn’t take a genius to notice that just a few seconds ago, he didn’t have this gun (at least, not strapped to his back) – and now he does. Also, this magical shotgun has seemingly unlimited ammo and doesn’t need to be reloaded. For fun, I’m going to count the number of shots Ash fires (with any sort of firearm) in this flick. [1 shot]

18.10

    Great camera angle: over Ash’s arm, onto his shotgun, with the crowd’s reaction in the background. Worship the boomstick! Worship it, I say!

18.40

    Ash’s “boomstick” speech is terrific, no doubt about it… but notice the deeper psychological meaning. He’s finally free of his oppression at S-Mart and is letting out his rage the best he can. Therapy, almost.

19.11

    There’s just something about owning a gun that demands you twirl it around, cowboy-like, before holstering it. [3 shots]

19.33

    Feminist warning: if you have even the slightest distaste for male machoism in its glory, you best put down this movie and go back to your cross-stitching (I kid because I love, people!). Ash being attended to by three women is just the begining of our machismo trip.

19.44

    Arthur has a really bad haircut. I think Kevin Smith has this hairstyle, actually.

20.05

    The “kill me, kiss me, blow” line is great, no doubt about it… but (maybe it’s just me) I’ve always wondered the ultimate meaning behind this line. Is Ash telling her to get lost or to do something else that I won’t print in this viewing that would cause this site to get banned by CyberPatrol? I really hope it’s the former.

21.20

    It’s nice that Ash is trying to beat the standard horror movie odds through a little practical sense… although it doesn’t quite work, of course.

21.49

    Ash actually reloads. This might be the only time you’ll see this. [4 shots]

22.08

    Check out the MAN: Ash plugs the witch from behind, then gets high off his own action (2nd greatest moment in this film) Worth rewinding to watch a couple times! [8 shots]

22.36

    Even though this scene’s been done in ED2, the “glove preparation” sequence is classic. Hum loudly to drown out the little noises in your head that shout, “How can Ash construct a fully functional power gripping hand with mideval tools and metals?” Just listen to the “Groovy!”

23.41

    He’s so filled with hatred for Shelia he can barely stand her… look at his eyes! Shelia represents his situation, so he’s not so much cheesed at her as he is at his predicament. And Ash, never one to let booty skip his grasp, demands some sugar. I tried this with a girl once. Did not receive lovin’.

24.57

    Ash begins his quest to some appropriately ass-kicking music. This place really, really, really does not look like England.

26.45

    I like how the Evil Presence can just mess with time and the weather as it does with Ash here. The echos, the mist, the female voices in the distant are all remeniscent of crap he’s gone through in the first two Evil Dead flicks. When you can’t see the danger, it’s time to run.

27.25

    Although the filmmakers deny it, when the third tree splits there really is a white face mask on the left side of the tree. I froze the frame, and yup, there it is. Pretty weird.

27.51

    No matter how fast or slow Ash is going, the Evil Camera always goes just a little slower to be nice (when Ash is in a car [ED2], on horse, or on foot).

28.02

    Although the windmill portion of AOD is mostly played for laughs, I’ve always found it to be a really bizarre and slightly freaky part of the movie. The “Ash in the mirror” thing is really never explained (even in the longer cuts of the flick) or why Ash attacks it automatically. Of course, once all the little Ashs come out, it’s plain “Three Stooges” comedy from there. I must say, out of all of the extra stuff added in the director’s cut, I was most glad to see more added to this scene, particularly to see Ash knock off his little buddies in more creative ways.

31.06

    Having the two little Ashes plug the big Ash’s nose on what is obviously a green screen is the worst special effect of the entire movie. I mean, Ash’ head isn’t even in freakin’ focus!

31.20

    The two little Ashes dragging off the third little Ash is [insert your own synonym for “cool and funny” here]

33.06

    Bad Ash gets both hands. Why is that?

33.30

    “Good. Bad. I’m the guy with the gun.” 3rd coolest moment of this movie, and I guess that explains why Bad Ash gets two hands, since Good Ash gets the heavy artillery. [9 shots]

34.10

    This marks the last time Mr. Chainsaw is used in AOD. Farewell, good cutting buddy!

34.52

    Bad Ash develops a distinct pirate accent here.

35.44

    Ash tries to pretend he’s got the willies, but it just doesn’t work for long. The cemetary is definitely the coolest set in this film; it’s just what you might imagine finding in the middle of demon-infested woods late at night (take THAT, Blair Witch!).

36.38

    Ash’s SAT Problem: You’ve got three books to choose from and only one is the right one. What to do? Well, whine about it, of course! This reaction is just so typical from what we’d expect from Ash (he’s fine with the heroics until he actually has to think) that we must laugh heartily. Besides, perhaps his whining strikes too close to home?

37.21

    This cutaway to the table and the gargoyles is a nice peaceful moment. Take this opportunity to go to the bathroom.

38.28

    Ash is whimpering like a little girl! Poor man, this’ll teach you to use your METAL GLOVE the next time!

39.19

    4th Coolest Moment in the film: Ash forgets the words. Why does this moment work so incredibly well? Sure, I could go into in-depth analysis of the Ash character here, but I think his shocked expression when he realizes he forgot something he should have learned, his desperate attempt to try to remember, his slyly looking around to see if he can get away with something, and his half-assed solution sum up the male psyche better than anything I could ever write. Plus, it’s fun-ny.

41.23

    Sure, okay, the skeleton arms scene isn’t exactly crucial to the furthering of the plot, but I wouldn’t take it out for the world.

42.32

    Mr. Ed the Horse doesn’t seem to disturbed by all the goings-on at all.

43.43

    Ash’s only F-bomb in the movie. Just thought I’d note that.

47.49

    No matter how fake they might look, I just love the animated skeletons. They’re just working joes, you’ve got to understand.

48.49

    Yet again, for no reason whatsoever other than to appeal to the guys: two topless wenches being led across screen. Seriously, their presence really does make no sense. Just think about it for a minute, will ya?

49.20

    The messenger has obviously graduated from the theater style of “jerk your arms around” acting.

50.51

    “You can count on my steel” Mr. Ted Raimi, ladies and gentlemen, delivering one of the unintentionally funniest lines in the film.

51.04

    So is Arthur pissed right here, or is he holding back tears of gratitude? It’s hard to tell from this expression. For a king, he’s pretty wimpy.

51.56

    Thus begins the preparation scene. Any good action flick, particularly one including battles, has one of these perparation sequences. And that’s all I have to say about that.

52.06

    Contents of Ash’s trunk: 2 liter bottle of Coke, a tool kit, rope, a gasoline canister, an issue of Fangora, a Chemistry textbook (!), a book on steam plant operation (!!), a light, a saw, an issue of DHP, jumper cables, a box of shotgun shells (like he needs them), and a stereo.

53.01

    Obviously, Ash has no problem tampering with the past and introducing gunpowder to the middle ages.

53.50

    “Yeah, and maybe I’m a Chinese jet pilot” Use that line in daily conversation, we beg of you.

54.28

      Notice that although Ash isn’t walking, the background is scrolling by anyway. I call this the “Wampa effect”, after the scene in the original cut of “Empire Strikes Back”, where they have an extremely cheesy effect of a Wampa just

roooolling

    by the screen, obviously not walking.

56.58

    Ash isn’t even LOOKING at the burning arrows to see when they should fire!

58.26

    Fireball Cam. Is there any reason NOT to love this film more?

58.33

    Arthur hasn’t quite warmed up to Ash’s methods yet — check out how he responds to a backslap by our antihero!

1:00.53

    Ah, the DeathCoaster (that is its actual name, btw). Finally Ash can rack up the body count good ‘n proper.

1:01.11

    Okay, so it’s obvious that the slo-mo chopping of the skeletons is staged, but it is so, so sweet.

1:01.59

    It’s Shelia. Shout with me: RUN HER OVER! RUN HER OVER! [10 shots]

1:02.40

    The killed the car. Long live the oldsmobile!

1:02.42

    Spear Cam. And why not?

1:02.59

    “Hey, you’re mine, sweetie!” These skeletons just haven’t figured out their reproductive organs aren’t in the best of shape, yet.

1:03.20

    Watch what the skeleton does when Arthur kicks it’s head off. Where’d it go?

1:04.32

    The skeletons as a whole have some great lines and funny voices. Too bad Ash can’t make peace with them.

1:05.12

    Great “Psycho” music to go along with Shelia’s attack.

1:05.46

    Ash gives Shelia what’s coming to her: a spear in the gut. This begs the question: how can Shelia suddenly be fine only a little bit later?

1:06.28

    Finally Ash puts his power glove to good use. Listen to those servos whine!

1:07.32

    Ash leaps over and delivers the behind-the-back thrust! Unfortunately, Bad Ash just doesn’t know when to quit.

1:10.13

    The moral of this story: all unfaithful girlfriends need is a spear to the belly to make them loyal again.

1:12.41

    Here we come to the point where the original ending and the theatrical ending differ. For story and logic purposes, I appreciate having the original ending, since it shows how Ash travels forward in time, where he messes up again and ends up in some apocalyptic future. That certainly would’ve opened the door for another Evil Dead flick! But, I do have to admit, the S-Mart (theatrical) ending is a lot more fun. Doesn’t make sense, but it’s fun.

1:12.51

    Ash is back where he was in the beginning, only with a few more scars to show. Notice that you can’t see his right hand just yet.

1:13.20

    Gotta love how we meet Ash’s final babe of the movie (pan over…). Very tasty.

1:13.39

    Ash just shoves her aside – hey, work comes before pleasure!

1:13.52

    The Ash we know and love re-emerges. Hello, implausably strong metal hand and new rifle!

1:14.10

    “Name’s Ash. Housewares” (recocks the gun) 5th Coolest Moment in this film. [11 shots]

1:14.56

    45 [total] shots later, and Ash is spent!

1:15.02

    All of the sudden Ash has a new holster (with price tag) and a cool action hero shirt.

1:15.14

    Lines to use at your wedding: “Hail to the king, baby!”
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