Army of Darkness (1993)
By: Craig Villinger on March 11, 2002 | Comments
Anchor Bay (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 96 Minutes
The Movie
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie
Screenplay: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Tagline: Trapped in time, Surrounded by evil, low on gas.
Country: USA
Cult horror icon Bruce Campbell returns as Ash in this third instalment of Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series. This time around Ash finds himself sent back through time to the 13th century, but even here he finds there is no escape from the evil forces that plagued him throughout the previous films. After gaining the trust of the locals with some 20th century charm, Ash is given the task of retrieving the "Necronimicon" which will help send him back to his own time. However, In the process of retrieving the book, Ash inadvertently awakens the army of the dead and creates an evil clone of himself who promptly sets about regaining the Necronomicon in order to bring chaos and destruction to the entire land. With the aid of his chainsaw, shotgun and some 20th century know how, Ash must attempt to right his wrongs by leading the people in an all out war against the army of darkness.

This film has achieved a cult status amongst horror fans, due mainly to the direction of Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's fantastic performance as Ash. The special effects are at times terrible to watch and the film could perhaps of benefited from a much higher budget, but that hardly matters, as Bruce Campbell constantly delivers some of the most quotable lines in horror film history, and Rami's inventive camera trickery never fails to impress. The original release of Army of Darkness had a running time of eighty one minutes. This DVD release from Anchor Bay is Sam Raimi's preferred "Director's cut" version and features an additional fifteen minutes of footage, which includes a different ending to the original theatrical version and an extension of the films "windmill sequence". Some fans may be disappointed at the omission of the original ending, which featured Ash uttering the classic line "Hail to the king baby" and I personally would have enjoyed seeing this included as an extra feature on the disc. That said however, there are still more than enough one-liners on hand to keep everyone happy, and the newer alternate ending does seem more appropriate given the conclusions to the previous Evil Dead films.
The Disc
Army of Darkness is presented in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16x9 television sets. The transfer is decent enough, although unfortunately this only serves to highlight the poor quality of some of the films visual effects shots. Almost all of the scenes featuring techniques such as "rear projection" appear very grainy, and there is a noticeable difference in quality between the rear projected footage and the foreground action. The films climatic battle sequence suffers heavily as a result. There is also a noticeable difference in the quality of the extra footage that was not included in the films original theatrical release (particularly the extended "windmill sequence"), which was obviously sourced from lesser quality material.

The disc features a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack which gets the job done nicely, although it is nothing to write home about. Importantly, Campbell's constant stream of smart one-liners come out with crystal clear clarity.

The selection of extra features on this disc is fairly impressive. The highlight is undoubtedly the informative and often amusing audio commentary from Director Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and star Bruce Campbell. Also on offer are four deleted scenes with optional commentary from Raimi and Campbell, "Creature Concept Drawings", and selectable storyboards which play in the corner of the screen as you watch the film.
The Verdict
This new release of the directors cut version should be welcomed by fans, as it was previously only available in the limited edition two disc set from Anchor Bay which is now out of print and goes for prices in excess of US$150 on eBay. The 15 minutes of additional footage is a great treat, and despite the sometimes below average image quality, this disc is well worth picking up for those who were unable to get their hands on the limited edition release.
Movie Score
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