People my age often think of the original Spider-Man trilogy when thinking of Sam Raimi. Rightfully so, those films paved the way for what a modern day comic book film could be when it’s directed with heart. The campiness throughout those films have become a welcome change of pace compared to many of the made-by-committee products we now get. Visiting Raimi’s horror roots has been a treat. A few weeks back, I watched Evil Dead 2 and loved the hyper kinetic, gore filled madhouse that made up the picture. Bruce Campbell is a bonafide movie star. In an alternate world, he’d be Nathan Drake for an Uncharted film.
Army of Darkness takes place right after the events of its predecessor, with Ash Williams finding himself transported to the Middle Ages, chainsaw in (or as) hand. Finding himself in the middle of war between King Arthur and Duke Henry, Ash prepares both parties for a battle against the undead. It’s outrageous to just summarize it, it’s a helluva good time to watch it. Raimi’s direction is as lively and energetic as ever, embracing the weird concoction of horror, comedy and romance he’s cooked up. Campbell is reliably charismatic, though the supporting cast is mostly regulated to Medieval stereotypes, complete with old English and prophecy quoting. The film works best from a technical perspective, including outstanding animatronic work and the aforementioned direction. For all its pomp and circumstance though, there isn’t a whole lot in the way of substance or vitality. Perhaps that was intentional, and Raimi wanted to make a fun, well crafted thrill ride. He succeeds handsomely in that respect, there’s just not much under the surface.