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Army of Darkness

Rated R, 81 min. Directed by Sam Raimi. Starring Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 19, 1993

Clocking in at a surprisingly brief 77 minutes, this final installation in Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy is, well, a letdown of almost biblical proportions, especially to fans of the gore-drenched, anything goes prequels. Raimi regular Bruce Campbell once again portrays Ash, the hapless Everyman beset by otherworldly demons, though this time out he finds himself cast in the dubious role of savior of the 13th century. In an effort to return to his own time (and his valued retail position at S-Mart), he once again reads aloud from the accursed Book of the Dead, and, as usual, screws everything up, inadvertently resurrecting a skeletal Army of the Dead and unleashing the forces of evil. Raimi and co-author (and brother) Ivan Raimi have tried to broaden the almost slapstick appeal of the first two films, and what we end up with is one of those dread horror/humor hybrids that ends up going everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. While the first two films of the series were set entirely within the wonderfully claustrophobic confines of darkened, forest-shrouded cabins, Army of Darkness plays out on a much grander scale, with hundreds of actors and poorly-designed “deadites” marching around and killing each other with huge swords and catapults. It's almost a poor man's Excalibur, but the fact of the matter is that the film displays far too little of the incisor-sharp wit and out-of-control mayhem readily available in the other two films. It just doesn't work. Take my advice: if you haven't seen Evil Dead or Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, run out and rent them (none other than Stephen King himself referred to Evil Dead as "the most ferociously original horror film of the decade." Army of Darkness can wait.
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