Monday, November 14, 2011

Army of Darkness

     There is no way that a movie featuring shotguns, chainsaws, knights in armor, and muscle cars could be left off this list. Army of Darkness is a movie that just never lets go. Starting with a concise and entertaining recap of what led wise-ass protagonist Ash to his current predicament as a slave bound for a gruesome death in the medieval times, the movie blends H.G. Lewis gore, Harryhausen-esque skeleton fight scenes, 3 Stooges slapstick, and a liberal dose of one-liners into one of the most beloved midnight movies around.
     Army of Darkness turns the traditional messianic tale on its head by handing over the responsibility to a suaver-than-thou meathead amputee in Ash. Handled hammily and ably by Bruce Campbell, Ash is the absolute centerpiece of this movie; and it is easy to get the feeling that something as simple as picking up dry cleaning would be entertaining and adventurous in Ash's hands (or hand, waka waka).
     Finding himself transported by the same deviltry that haunted his cabin, Ash becomes the purported “Chosen One”, tasked with retrieving the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis from its cemetery home. Bungling the whole ordeal as only Ash is capable, all hell breaks loose when the titular army rises from the grave to steal the book back.
     Fueled by Sam Raimi's emphatic, Looney Tunes-informed directing style, the over-the-top action scenes underscore lessons of finishing what you started and finding friends in the face of danger. Ash, almost by accident, becomes a machismo role model in his ability to spit quips while kicking ass and sweet-talking any girl that happens by. Look to the blacksmith for a highly underrated performance as exactly the kind of bad-ass we would love on our side in a fight.

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