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Army of Darkness (1993)

With the reluctant hero Ash (Bruce Campbell) having been unwillingly sent from his haunted cabin in the woods back to medieval times, the opportunities for camp indulgence in Army of Darkness have been considerably expanded upon from those in the first two Evil Dead films. Looser than the overdrawn original film but not as tight or relentlessly original as the second, this capper to Raimi’s schlock horror trilogy is wicked fun in delightfully bad taste, the visual gags coming fast and cheap as Ash disposes of any possessed creatures that unwisely crosses his path with prowess and brio to spare. Here, the zombies take a backseat to a skeletal army that wages war against the local castle residents, led by a chainsaw and shotgun wielding Ash (“You see this? This is my boom stick”). The feel is fittingly haphazard, moving from one outrageous visual gag set piece to the next without a moment more of screen time dedicated to the necessitated plot than is absolutely necessary. Perhaps no moment of the film is funnier (at least to knowing film geeks, a la Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still) than when Ash, commanded to retrieve a sacred book that can return him to his own time, tries to cover up his failure to remember the magic words needed to do so with perfectly timed ineptitude. With loving references to the legends of King Arthur, Gulliver’s Travels and The Three Stooges abound, Army of Darkness succeeds thanks to its indulgences into the utterly ridiculous.