We’re to our third entry in the Cultwatch! feature, and we have one both Tom and Jimmy love: Army of Darkness.
Army of Darkness
tomk: So who had the better death face: Golden Destro Doom after he got spiked in Flash Gordon, or the skeleton that was Bad Ash just before he exploded?
jimmy: Good question…I’ll go with Fake Destro, but God I love this movie.
tomk: What’s not to love?
jimmy: I agree. This is the first of these Cultwatch movies I’ve seen before…and many times at that…and I was actually a little afraid it wouldn’t live up to expectations…but I thoroughly enjoyed it once again.
tomk: For years, it was the only Evil Dead movie I’d seen and it works pretty damn good as a solo film. That opening tells you everything you need to know.
jimmy: It does…at the same time the opening always makes me wish I had watched Evil Dead 2 prior to watching this. Some of the details are changed, and I get it was done for simplicity, but we can also blame Ash as an unreliable narrator. And it gave Bridget Fonda something to do.
tomk: I never complained about ever giving Bridget Fonda something to do.
jimmy: That’s true. And I guess some tweaked details is better than ED2 which completely ignores ED1 with essentially the same plot.
tomk: That or Ash is incapable of learning anything.
Though I still haven’t seen ED1.
jimmy: No? You should. It’s more horror than slapstick comedy, but is essentially a lower budget version of ED2.
tomk: I’ll keep that in mind.
But seriously, Ash does seem largely incapable of learning.
jimmy: He’s a buffoon…but knows how to make gun powder… 🙂
tomk: He had a book for that.
jimmy: Yeah, yeah. I could have a book too but that doesn’t mean I could make it.
tomk: I just love the idea of Ash talking down to everyone he meets in the past because he’s from the future despite being a moron in his own right.
jimmy: Haha, well, he does have a Boomstick!
tomk: Shop smart. Shop S-Mart.
But I bet Lord Arthur or Duke Henry the Red or Seinfeld’s Mr Pitt could remember the words from The Day The Earth Stood Still.
jimmy: Ash remembered them. More or less.
Even if he didn’t say every syllable.
jimmy: Just talking about this movie makes me laugh. Like you said, how can you not love it?
Obviously Bruce Campbell is a tour de force and the reason this movie works at all, but Raimi’s directing is a close second.
tomk: The two combine to basically make this movie a live action cartoon.
jimmy: Haha, that is a perfect way to describe it. Wile E Coyote would feel right at home.
tomk: True. And as much as I still love Bruce Campbell and Ash Vs Evil Dead, he’s not as limber as he used to be.
So, seeing him bounce around in this is even more fun.
jimmy: I made note of that too. Haven’t watched this and Predator back to back last night as you know, I was struck by how young Campbell and Arnold were.
tomk: Why can’t Campbell be elected governor of a state?
jimmy: Because none of them have changed their name to Awesome yet.
tomk: Bruce doesn’t need to.
jimmy: He was incredible though. And you might have noticed, or maybe not, there are some great lines in this movie.
tomk: I have.
I can’t say the same for, say, Jenny or Watson.
jimmy: At least Ryan knows the deal.
tomk: Then why isn’t he here?
jimmy: He’s Ryan.
tomk: Good enough.
jimmy: If the films we’ve watched so far, this would be the one I’d be most curious about of the opinions of first time watchers. Oh well.
tomk: That would be how I felt about the other two with you. We both saw how that turned out.
“Why is there a watermelon there, Flash?”
So, how did you come upon seeing this without having seen the others?
tomk: I think I found it in the video store and remembered the ads from various comic books. As such, I was curious.
jimmy: Fair enough. After loving it, how come you waited so long to check out ED2?
tomk: I have no answer for that, aside from a general dislike of horror movies. This one was clearly more of a comedy.
jimmy: Yeah. 2 is comedic as well, but a tad gorier.
tomk: And I don’t generally like gore.
jimmy: Me neither generally.
tomk: I was a fan of the original black-and-white movie version of The Thing as a kid, and one day my mom (who worked part time at a video store as she worked her way through nursing school), and one day she brought home the John Carpenter version. I turned it off after about ten minutes.
jimmy: I hope that doesn’t happen this time…
tomk: And my brother, also a big AoD fan, tried watching the original ED once, told me later it was just people screaming.
And no, it will not happen…if such a thing comes to pass. Sheesh, Jimmy. Do you want to even give the illusion we don’t have multiple movies lined up for this feature already!
jimmy: Right. Never. Forget I said anything.
I find ED2 is like the gateway drug into these films. More so than AoD but I can see the argument for watching them “in reverse” as you’ve been doing.
I think ideally though you watch 2 than AoD and if you become a curious super fan completist: ED1.
tomk: Hey, one of us finished Ash Vs Evil Dead here. I didn’t see a sperm bank scene in any of these movies!
jimmy: I haven’t watched the last season yet…
I blame Ryan.
jimmy: If the shoe fits.
tomk: He is terrible when it comes to spoilers.
It is known.
But you know, I am watching Schindler’s List right now for the AFI Countdown, and there’s actress Embeth Davidtz as a poor, abused Jewish maid opposite Liam Neeson…who made Darkman before Schindler…was Speilberg raiding Raimi’s casts for his Holocaust drama or is it just coincidence?
Should I ask what your favorite line is?
jimmy: Damn. I don’t know. There are so many. It’s no Clue but it’s highly quotable.
tomk: Isn’t it so quotable because it’s no Clue?
I mean, if you asked at a convention, I doubt anyone would just guess “Bruce Campbell?”
jimmy: Something like that. What I mean to say is there are too many great ones to choose from.
tomk: “Good? Bad? I’m the one with the gun.”
Hail to the King
Gimmie some sugar baby
This is my boomstick
You ain’t in charge of jack and shit and jack just left town
Close the door, were you born in a barn?
I might not have them all exact.
tomk: You have ’em close enough!
Even if you’re off by a syllable or two, fans know what you’re talking about. It’s not like you’re making a grab for a mystical book that can summon evil.
jimmy: I KNOW YOUR DAMN WORDS!!!
tomk: Why get upset? Did you sleep too long in an alternate timeline?
jimmy: Ha. I was going to ask if you had seen the original ending. (And assumed you had.)
tomk: Yes. Yes, I had.
jimmy: It has a certain charm, but I like the S-Mart coda better.
tomk: The original lacked an attractive redhead and a threat to swallow someone’s soul.
jimmy: And a hailing to the king.
tomk: He could have been king, but he had a retail job to go back to.
One where no one questions his cyborg hand.
jimmy: Ted Raimi seemed pretty bored with the whole story.
tomk: He liked it better when he was promising to give Ash his steel.
jimmy: That’s a show reference.
It is not!
Ted Raimi appears as many, many characters in the movie.
jimmy: Damn…no. He was the villager.
-1 for Jimmy
tomk: He also gave his voice for some of those Deadites, for whom no bone pun goes unmentioned.
jimmy: I figured he was some Deadites as well.
tomk: The Deadites this time around were a lot easier to take out. You could snap one over your knee if you tried.
But you’ve seen all the movies, Jimmy. Have you noticed a progression in any way? Like they get less scary and more funny or anything along those lines?
jimmy: The Evil Dead movies you mean?
tomk: Yes. I think I know how you’d rank the Cultwatch! movies.
jimmy: There is definitely a progression. With the first being more horror, AOD being mostly slapstick and ED2 meeting in the middle.
tomk: AoD also clearly had the biggest budget even if it wasn’t that big.
jimmy: That’s true.
To be honest, if we were watching “cult” movies, we should have watched ED1. That was made for under $400,000.
tomk: It led to an unlikely franchise too.
jimmy: For sure.
tomk: It’s at least on a Clerks level on cultish fandom.
jimmy: I would say bigger. And Clerks was pretty much a one hit wonder. Evil Dead spawned two successful sequels, a TV show and a remake…which I’ve never watched.
tomk: We both have our gaps.
jimmy: Well, this might be the most fun of any of our choices. Maybe Solarbabies will be better, who knows? Anything else to add before we grade?
tomk: The website The AV Club used to have a feature called The New Cult Canon where the author would take a deep dive into different cult movies every week or two. Most of the time, he’d discuss themes and symbolism, but for the week where he covered Army of Darkness, he just said there wasn’t anything deeper because it was just a fun movie. That sounds right to me.
jimmy: That’s along the lines of what I was thinking about when it comes to grading. If you are just grading along the lines of fun and enjoyment, this is easily a 10 Fake Shemps out of 10 for me.
tomk: Yes, it’s easily a 10 Groovies out of 10. Or even a rare 20 Soul Swallowing Threats out of 20.
jimmy: I need to get Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 watched. It might be the last we see of our erstwhile hero.
tomk: Well, unless they recast.
They must never recast.
I think Ash was a girl in the remake…
tomk: Shall we sally forth with something else, Jimmy?
jimmy: Sally forth we shall!
tomk: Have you ever seen The Re-Animator?
jimmy: No, Tom, I do not believe I have seen The Re-Animator. Why do you ask?
tomk: I think we should see a creepy guy bring back the dead on purpose this time.
jimmy: Well, if you are going to bring back the dead, you might as well do it on purpose
NEXT TIME: Herbert West can’t leave the dead dead in the gorefest weirdness of The Re-Animator.
Oh, hey, there was a fanfilm that fits this site…