*** SPOILERS ***
If I were to review this movie as a sequel to Evil Dead 1 & 2, then it probably wouldn't fare too well with matters such as consistency. I had never seen Evil Dead 1 nor 2 until recently, but I remember watching 'Army of Darkness' many years ago and enjoying it then. Such is the level of fog in my brain, I remember absolutely nothing about the movie apart from the fact I liked it, so I sat down again this evening to re-watch.
I was glad not to be disappointed and found that I still enjoyed the movie. For me, if taken as a standalone movie it is excellent, but you have to leave most of whats gone in the first 2 movies behind when you watch this one as the contradictions are endless. Ash's character (although still played by Bruce Campbell) has completely changed, although IMO most definately for the better. Where we start the movie with Bruce in the middle ages does not tally with the situation we left him in at the end of the second movie. Although he was sent back to this time, we left him hailed as a hero by villagers for slaying a demon. Army of Darkness has him pulled through a time portal and kidnapped by Lord Arthur, suspected of working alongside Duke Henry, who he is at war with.
We see Ash thrown into a pit to his assumed death, but he manages to fight his way out and even kills a Deadite who crawls out of the pit after him. Hey Presto, he is celebrated as a hero. The movie follows his search for the Necronomicon again as this is the only way he can get back to his own time. Obviously all hell breaks loose (quite literally) mostly down to Ash's inaptitude. When he forgets a magic phrase which should enable him to retrieve the book safely he has to battle with a host of evil he unwittingly releases.
What I loved about this movie is how much the humor is ramped up. You can't look at it as a horror at all. I loved the one liners and tongue in cheek jokes. You could be forgiven for thinking you were watching 'The Holy Grail' in places during sets in the village. Its just good all round entertainment. Although it was probably not intended, it reminds me of something you could sit down with your family and a couple of older kids and watch on a bank holiday. An early but more amusing 'Mummy' movie for example.
There is Ray Harryhausen style effects in spades again with skeleton soldiers and a scene where Ash is cloned and spends a brief amount of time as one half of a conjoined twin. The lack of effort in places though was hilarious - i'm thinking of a scene where a skeleton attempts to punch Ash in the face as an example.. it looks like someone just flung the skeletal arm in the right general direction and it just flails about.
Its most definately a 'punch the air' movie with lots of excuses for 'yays' and celebrations. It has lots of laughs and a fantastic script. In my humble opinion it is far superior to the other 2 movies, at least I enjoyed it tenfold in comparison. If you're a fan of an awesome movie quote, you'll probably get all the one's you want in this movie.
What is somewhat disappointing is the ending to the US version. This version see's Ash take a potion to sleep and wake up in his own time. He does so and he is shown working at a supermarket and boasting to women about how he could have been a king. A creature inexplicably appears and he kills it... THE END.
The UK version however has Ash oversleep and wake up Post Apocalypse, which is just fantastic and surely is how the movie should have ended. Apparently though they wanted a 'positive' ending for Ash's character for the american audience, even though Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi preferred the oversleeping storyline.
That aside a most definate thumbs up from me and this one gets the 'recommended' tag slapped on its backside!