Y'know, it has long been a philosophy of mine that 'if the star of a movie is the main attraction, then the movie is shite'. In the light of recent events I have decided to add to this philosophy 'Unless the star in question is Bruce Campbell, in which case the movie will kick righteous arse'.

Yes, I now own a copy of Army of Darkness thanks to my keen eye and the area behind the counter in my favourite second hand video shop. And what a film it is. It's a comedy! It's a thriller! It's action! It's ... a horror film?


It's got skeletons and zombies and facial mutilation but it isn't a horror film. No arms are ripped off. No guts are spilled out. People get blown away with shotguns but don't bleed. "But Yahtzee," I hear you cry. "Why are you reviewing it if it's not horror?" Well, that's simple, hypothetical reader. This slot is entitled 'HORROR MOVIE SEQUEL THEATRE' and Army of Darkness is a SEQUEL to a HORROR MOVIE. QED. I want to review it anyway because this film totally rocks my world.

Starting where Evil Dead 2 left off, our hero Ash has landed in the 14th century after battling the evil haunted house, and he still has a sawn-off down his back and a chainsaw where his hand should be. In direct contradiction to the teaser ending of ED2, Ash is accused by some medieval tosser of being in league with another medieval tosser, and is carted off to be killed. He is dragged, manacled to a lump of wood, to a castle, where he has sand kicked on him, rocks thrown at him and spit hurled in his direction by Token Hot Chick who spits more times in this film than a camel sucking a lozenge.

Ash on his way to the board meeting. HA HA HA HA HA.

I don't know what it is about Sam Raimi but he always seems keen to deal out punishment to Ash. In ED2 he was beaten up front and centre by the Deadites, then beaten up a bit more by some humans who turn up and misunderstand the situation. In AOD he gets treated in this shabby manner, to say nothing of the humourous groin-kicks and head-blows to come.

Apparently Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi were old school chums. All I can say is that Sam no doubt has some personal secret vendetta against his friend, possibly for something along the lines of borrowing his Walkman and never giving it back. Remember that, kids - if you're friends with someone who wants to be a famous movie director, don't piss them off, or in a few year's time you'll be getting kicks to the groin from here to kingdom come.

So anyway, stripped of his chainsaw, Ash is forced to do battle with a couple of Deadites who badly need some facial moisturiser, and gets rather badly beaten up until a big beardy wizard bloke, who suspects that Ash is the Hero from the Sky mentioned in the Necronomicon (which he is), chucks him the chainsaw. Ash makes short work of the zombies then bully the castle folk into helping him. This bullying scene is one of the best in the film, because it involves one of my favourite cliches of cinema - the Mortal-Picking-Fight-Scene! In which a smug but underpowered person thinks he can take on the invincible hero and gets a sound battering! In this case, the castle lord threatens Ash with a sword, which Ash then breaks in two with a shotgun blast. I love this guy.

One of the things I noticed about this film is that Ash now seems to have developed a skill known only to main characters in first-person shooters - he can conceal almost infinite amounts of weaponry and equipment about his person without it being seen. Amongst the items that come and go are his shotgun, his chainsaw, his car and even a horse at one point. He loses it when he gets knocked off by a branch, and miraculously finds it again a bit later.

Now having made his point, Ash is hailed as the hero and is told he needs to go fetch the Necronomicon in order to (a) save the world and (b) get back to his own era. He's only interested in (b) at this point, and says so an awful lot in his typical loudmouth fashion. But a chainsaw on an arm stump is a little unwieldy, so he and the big blacksmith make a mechanical hand out of a gauntlet and some leather straps. Apparently, despite working in a supermarket, Ash is an expert in mechanics, because he can build a working false hand! I don't even think the cleverest scientists of our generation can do that, and they have access to things like lathes and welding gear! Maybe Ash should be teaching engineering in a top university, not pricing kitchen units.

"Professor, I built a working false digestive system made only from sweet wrappers and cardboard! I couldn't have done it without you teaching us how to work in deference to the laws of physics!"

"Hail to the king, baby!"

So anyway, Ash goes book hunting, pausing only to bonk Token Hot Chick.* Nice to see that Mr. Raimi lets him get laid occasionally in between the groin-kicks. He rides off into the forest and gets chased by the POV shot chasey thing from ED2 into a windmill, where I noticed he rather superfluously warms his metal hand over a fire. You're not seriously expecting me to believe that that thing has working nerves, are you? Forget top universities, Ash should be made Lord High Emperor of the Engineers. If all the engineers in the world formed an army, he'd be in the general's tent with MacGyver and the A-Team, arguing over who gets the cinnamon rolls. How I would love to be in that tent, just so I get to see Ash kick Mr. T's ass. Foo'.

* You know it's a boy's movie when the phrase 'Gimme some sugar baby' works as an effective chat-up line. This is a boy's movie. If you don't like this film you're either female or a poofter. Yes, I said poofter, Mr. Politically-Correct Society Man. Go stick some red tape up your nose.

Sorry, I'm getting off the point. Ash suspects a repeat of the old mirror trick from the previous film so he smashes it, but this creates an army of little Ashes who torment him until he accidentally swallows one of their number and it starts to grow bigger and burst out of him without harming him at all (I'm not making this up). So now Good Ash has to face Bad Ash, so blows his face off with a shotgun (in a way that does not produce any blood, strangely) and saws him up into little bits. Ash can be vindictive if he wants.

Then he finds the Necronomicon, or rather the Necronomicons, gets beaten up by two of them (leave the poor bugger alone, Raimi!) and forgets the magic words he's supposed to say before taking the third, so he improvises hurriedly and brings about an army of the Dead, raising Bad Ash in the process. Oops.

Y'know, it's not really apparent in the other films but it now becomes clear that Ash is a big ol' idiot. He's an arrogant loudmouth thicky despite being the best engineer in the world who gets punched in the groin by a skeletal hand and orally molested by a second in true tentacle hentai fashion. It may sound homoerotic to you, young lady, but it's more like something from the Three Stooges.

So anyway, to cut a long story short, Ash returns to the castle and prepares the rather small amount of men to do battle with the Deadites, using their natural advantage of having technology from the future. Now comes an iffy plot point. In the boot (sorry, 'trunk') of Ash's car they find more shotgun shells and textbooks on chemistry and steam power. Bear in mind that this car was packed by Ash and his girlfriend just before ED2 when they thought they were going on holiday. What sort of holiday were they planning, exactly? I have a couple of theories.

1. They plan to do a little hunting and the textbooks are going to be thrown at trees to scare out the birds.

2. Ash's girlfriend is a college student majoring in chemistry and steam power who wants to study while she's on holiday, and Ash intends to use the shotgun shells to intimidate her into studying harder.

3. The writers were lazy.

'Board meeting' ... oh, man I crack myself up.

Using his textbooks Ash modifies his wrecked car to run on steam and adds a few little extras like a huge spinning blade. I named this car the Ashmobile, and it's a shame it was only used for a few minutes before crashing spectacularly. The chemistry books go towards the creation of gunpowder, which they put on their arrows. Now, this leads me to another iffy bit. Ash has the archers line up on the battlements and they have this boy with a torch light all the fuses on the arrows one by one. But when he's finished, all the fuses are burning at the same rate like they were lit simultaneously! It's things like this that spoil your enjoyment of the film and I'm very disappointed.

Hmm, I've written too much already. Better wrap this up fast. Ash's army defeats the deadite army with a little help from the other medieval tosser mentioned earlier and his army, and the two medieval tossers form an alliance. Then, depending on which video release you have, Ash gets sent back to his own time to do battle with another deadite in his supermarket, or Ash gets sent too far forward in time and wakes up after the apocalypse. I prefer the first ending. The second one doesn't really suit the film's bang-bang-haha attitude.

Ratings ahoy!

Fingers in ears rating - 2/10
Nothing really scary happens, unless you find Bruce Campbell's chin intimidating, in which case - 10/10

Similarity to last film rating - 4/10
Evil Dead 2 was a horror film. Army of Darkness is a comic fantasy. The 4 points are for Ash, the POV-shot monster and ... this and that ...

Get nekkid and DIE! rating - 2/10
Only bit of nekkidness is when Ash bonks token hot chick, and neither die. Although the latter becomes a deadite for a bit, which sort of counts.

Blood and guts rating - 3/10
Surprisingly little. There's a bit where some bloke gets pushed into the pit of death and all this blood fountains up, but it's a bit implausible to say the least.

Hateful heroes rating - 0/10
Ash, far from being the victimized regular Joe from ED2 and 1, now has become some sort of swashbuckling superhero. Bruce Campbell, if you're reading this, I love you, and if it wasn't against reason and nature I'd happily bear your children.

Overall horror movie sequel rating - 3/10
Not horror. But it kicks arse.

Quality Rating: 94%

One-Word Summary: "Testosterone"

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