Army of Darkness (Anchor Bay) (1992)

At the end of Evil Dead 2, Ash (Bruce Campbell) managed to get rid of the Ultimate Darkness by opening up a time warp and sending it back to the Middle Ages (If you haven't seen that movie, you'll just have to take my word on that). Trouble is, he and his '73 Oldsmobile also got sucked into Medieval England, and as resident Evil Dead butt-kicker, he now has to reclaim the Necronomicon from its haunted resting place to not only end the demonic menace, but get back to his own time. And to put it bluntly, he screws up big time.

The humor in the third (and to this date, final) installment in the Evil Dead series is much more overt and (dare I say it?) low - this is a Ray Harryhausen adventure movie directed by the Three Stooges. The demonic hordes, presented as terrifying in the first two movies, are played for laughs. This is cited by many as their favorite entry in the Evil Dead Trilogy; it's certainly the most mainstream, as director Sam Raimi continued the general tone of this flick in his highly successful Hercules and Xena TV series.

Read the full review in The Bad Movie Report.

Any misgivings I had after Anchor Bay's dismal initial pressing of Evil Dead 2, my favorite in the Trilogy, were dispersed by this disc; the transfer is pristine, with a flawless print boasting fine color, true flesh tones, deep blacks and shadow detail, which are pretty important if your movie has the word "darkness" in its title. This is a definite replacement for my old Universal laserdisc (or DVD) of this title - its audio mix ran to the unbalanced, and the over-amped sound of Ash's shotgun generally resulted in 911 calls by panicky neighbors. This disc's THX-approved mix is much more even-handed, while remaining sonically rich.

Anchor Bay does its usual fine job on the interactive menus, with something unpleasant rushing at the screen each time you choose an option. The movie is divided into 23 well-chosen chapters. "Talent Bios" are presented for Raimi and Campbell. You also have your choice of the Widescreen or Fullscreen versions of the movie.

The two best features of this disc (which is exactly the same as the first disc from Anchor Bay's earlier Army of Darkness: Limited Edition two disc set) are the movie's original ending, in which Ash screws up one last time, and instead of returning to his own time winds up in a post-nuclear war wasteland; and "The Men Behind The Army", a 20 minute documentary created especially for this disc, concerning the KNB effects team and the process of creating a literal army of the undead.

Anchor Bay will be releasing yet another edition of this movie (these are getting as bad as the Bond films!) this summer - The Director's Cut, with more extras, and limited to a pressing of 40,000. (It will be the same as the second disc of the Limited Edition) If you value extras, this may be the version to track down, but if all you desire is a striking presentation of the movie, and a chance to see that original ending (previously available only through bootleggers), then this disc will fill your need admirably.

Freeman Williams, 6/23/00

Running Time: 81 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Widescreen 1.66:1, Standard 4:3, 16x9 enhanced
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital Surround, THX approved
Languages: English
Subtitles: None
Region: 1
MSRP: $24.98

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