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Film / Army of Darkness

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"All right, you primitive screwheads! Listen up!"

"Hail to the king, baby."
Ash Williams

Army of Darkness is the 1992 sequel to Evil Dead 2 and the third film in the Evil Dead franchise. It is directed by Sam Raimi, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother Ivan Raimi. It was released on February 19th, 1993.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is transported back to Medieval Europe, where he finds out he can return to his own time if he can retrieve the Necronomicon. Ash manages to find the book, but when he inevitably screws up the retrieval, he's forced to train and help the not-so-peaceful villagers he's placed in the path of an Army of Darkness.

Noticeably Denser and Wackier and largely Lighter and Softer than the previous two movies, Army of Darkness eschews the Horror Comedy of previous entries in favor of being an out-and-out slapstick comedy that's relatively tame in content. Due to this making it easier to broadcast on television with minimal edits, as well as being more accessible on home video due to being distributed by a major company, it has become the most widely seen and recognized of the Evil Dead films.

Also notorious for its many, many different Re-Cuts — at least four are known to exist — some of which had a entirely different and considerably more depressing ending than the theatrical release.

Army of Darkness provides examples of:

  • After the End: The original ending has Ash accidentally drinking too much of the potion that will let him sleep for centuries and wakes up in a post-apocalyptic London.
  • Agony of the Feet: When Ash tries to crush one of the Mini-Ashes underfoot, it defends itself with a large nail, which goes through Ash's shoes and makes him scream in pain.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Tagline, as seen on the poster: "Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas."
  • Artistic License – Geography: Medieval England looks an awful lot like Southern California.
  • Artistic License – History: The film is completely ahistorical.
    • King Arthur is portrayed as a real person who rules England (represented by a single castle) in 1300 AD. King Arthur is a mythical figure who supposedly ruled around 400 to 500 AD, although it's never stated or really even implied that he's supposed to be that Arthur.
    • Gunpowder would have been completely unknown in Arthurian times, but had been in Europe for about a century by 1300.
    • Full body armor is shown numerous times in the movie. Such was only invented in the early 15th century, more than a hundred years after the film is set.
    • The hut Ash spends the night in — where he's attacked by the mini-Ashes — appears to have a modern heating system (at least, there are metal vents for him to hit his head on).
    • And, lest we forget, Ash's new metal hand, which is basically an overpowered, cybernetic prosthetic. This would be hi-tech even by early 21st century standards. Rule of Cool applies, of course.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Mocked.
    Deadite Sheila: You found me beautiful once.
    Ash: Honey, you got reeaaaal ugly.
  • Bookends: The movie starts and ends with Ash narrating the story.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
  • The Blacksmith: The nameless smith has a minor role, yet gets a fair bit of characterization. He's shown to be something of an Only Sane Man among the primitive screwheads who seems to take pity on Ash and the other captives, Ash later saves his life when he fails to get the drop on a Deadite witch. Afterwards he helps Ash build his hand, fix his car, an is the first man to volunteer himself to defend the castle.
  • Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Variant, where Ash blasts a sword in half.
  • Body Horror: It's a little freaky when Evil Ash essentially forms off of Good Ash via budding.
  • Books That Bite: One of the false Necronomicons in the graveyard bites down on Ash's hand when he touches it.
  • Brick Joke: In the theatrical ending, when the coworker listening to Ash's story asks if Ash said the words right this time. Of course not.
  • Broad Strokes: Everything Ash explained in the opening happened in the last film, they just didn't happen in the exact ways that the flashback in this one showed.
  • Bronson Canyon and Caves: Ash rides through the canyon in an early scene.
  • The Cavalry: Henry the Red and his peoples.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage: The castle is evacuated, leaving 60 men to fight an army of the undead that outnumber them about 10 to 1. They have to keep moving defenses from wall to wall as they simply don't have enough people to effectively guard each side at the same time.
  • The Cynic: After spending two whole movies going from being an Innocent Bystander to an Action Survivor from the Deadite's sadistic games, Ash by the start of this movie is done with everyone's shit. Part of his arc in this film is him going from selfishly looking out for himself to becoming a true Action Hero, deciding to stay and help the people fend off the Armies Are Evil. The fact that it was his carelessness that put them in danger in the first place probably had something to do with it.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Taken up to eleven with the Weaponized Car's combat refit.
  • Denser and Wackier: Much more overtly comedic than Evil Dead 1 or 2.
  • Dem Bones: Most of the eponymous Army raised by Evil Ash/the Necronomicon.
  • Description Porn: Ash introducing his boomstick.
  • Dual Wielding: Ash briefly wields two swords simultaneously while fighting on the castle wall's stairs.
  • Dung Ages: The setting for this film, and results in Ash being a jerk to everyone in the beginning.
  • Enemy Mine: Henry and his men riding in to save the very people who days previously were their captors, and about to execute them in an extremely horrific way.
  • Enemy Without: Evil Ash forms out of the original Ash's body.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: After proving it has the ability to shred a human body into a blood geyser, the Pit Witch decides to handle Ash with... a series of facial punches and backflip kicks.
  • Evil Knockoff: Evil Ash is a worse version of the original.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: Bad/Evil Ash initially looks exactly like his regular counterpart, but after being shot in the face, dismembered, and then buried by Ash he later comes back as a rotting zombie.
  • Eye Poke: Ash gets a number of these in the cemetery scene in a The Three Stooges homage.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Sheila briefly turned heel when she became a Deadite.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Lord Arthur and Ash, as well as Lord Arthur and Duke Henry, to a greater extent.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: The opening scene, which recaps the events of the story so far, includes some small bits of footage from Evil Dead 2, but all images with Linda in them are reshot to have her portrayed by Bridget Fonda.
  • Forging Scene: Ash and the villagers building his armored hand and supplying weapons to his car. "Groovy".
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Evil Ash starts as just a tiny doppelganger of Ash playing violent pranks on him, indistinguishable from his fellow little bastards; even after growing in size, Ash puts him down with a shotgun blast to the face and buries his dismembered corpse. After Ash bungles the incantation, Evil Ash comes back as the Big Bad and full-on general of the Deadite army.
  • Genre Shift: Successfully completes the transition of the franchise from violent horror with elements of comedy to Bruce Campbell killing skeletons with a windmill car in the Middle Ages.
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: The mini-Ashes do this after Ash knocks himself out in the medieval windmill.
  • High-Pressure Blood: The poor sap that is thrown into a pit before Ash, which contains two Deadites, is turned into a geyser of blood which erupts to the surface, spraying it everywhere.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Evil Ash, which is the evil force coalesced into an evil double of Ash.
  • Idiot Hero: Ash, who knows an awful lot about killin' deadites but somehow manages to bungle both attempts to speak the magic words.
  • Ignored Expert: The wiseman.
    Wiseman: My Lord, I believe he is the one written of in the Necronomicon. He who is prophesied to fall from the Heavens and deliver us from the terrors of the Deadites.
    Arthur: What? That buffoon? Likely he's one of Henry's men. I say to the pit with him!
  • Immediate Sequel: The story picks up more or less right where Evil Dead 2 left off, but with a rather noticeable change, as seen under Retcon.
  • Imperfect Ritual:
    • Ash is sent to recover the Necronomicon and is reminded by the wizard to recite the words "Klaatu Barada Nikto" when taking possession of the book. Unfortunately, Ash recites the words wrong... leading to a whole army of undead rising and attacking the castle.
    • In the end, Ash is sent back to the present by another ritual... whose words he once again bungles, allowing Deadites to follow him.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Arthur: Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?
    Ash: Nope. Just me baby. Just me.
  • In Medias Res: The movie starts off with Ash dragged in chains towards his execution. He narrates the story of how he got the year 1300.
  • Ironic Echo: "Gimme some sugar, baby."
  • Falling into the Plot: This film picks up immediately after Evil Dead 2, which ends with Ash falling through a time vortex to wind up in the Middle Ages.
  • Kirk's Rock: Principal photography for the movie was done in Vasquez Rocks, and the rock itself appears about half an hour into the film.
  • Klaatu Barada Nikto: Ash starts the spell to safely retrieve the Necronomicon "Klaatu Verata Nik..." then forgets the rest and starts to bluff with different words.
  • Laughing Mad: In the original ending, Ash, after finding out he'd slept too long and woke up in a post-apocalyptic England.
  • Leg Cling: The original poster.
  • Lighter and Softer: While there were some goofy elements in the previous films, they were mostly very gruesome horror movies with some comedic parts. This one is an outright comedy-horror with some spooky elements, but mostly invoked for humor, and with little of the graphic violence that made the originals so infamous.
  • Living Legend: Ash could have been a king. In his own way, he is king.
  • Look Behind You:
  • The Magic Versus Technology War: To some point, thanks to Ash's quick application of steam and gunpowder knowledge the medieval Englishmen got a chance against a vast undead army.
  • Medieval Morons: "You primitive screwheads!"
  • Men of Sherwood: The soldiers and surrounding villagers of Castle Kandar suffer some losses, but most of them survive and they kill large numbers of deadites after getting new weapons and training from Ash.
  • The Middle Ages: Setting of this film.
  • Mini-Me: At one point Ash has to deal with several mischievous Mini-Ash duplicates that came out of shards from a broken mirror. When one forces Ash to swallow it, Ash tries to get rid of it by downing boiling water after it. This doesn't kill it, though, as the Mini-Ash mutates and forms out of him into who would be called Bad/Evil Ash.
  • Ms. Fanservice: As the skeleton army assembles we see a couple of scantily clad beautiful woman dragged across the front of the screen. In the DVD commentary Bruce Campbell admits this was simply because producer Robert Tapert wanted "Naked slave girls in chains" in his movie.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Sword actually. Happens in the This Is My Boomstick scene, when Ash breaks a sword wielded by Arthur by shooting it with his gun.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: If only Ash could have remembered those damn words.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: The titular Army of Darkness. Partially subverted in that they run away screaming when shelled with explosive arrows and bags of gunpowder.
  • Nipple and Dimed: There's a short, blink-and-you-miss-it moment where a couple of topless slave girls are herded past the camera. It may have been intended as Fanservice, but the fact that they're being led off to be raped by demonic undead monsters achieves the opposite effect, underscored by the fact that it happens while Sheila is being forcibly kissed by the Deadite copy of Ash.
  • Offhand Backhand: Ash does this with a shotgun.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The Englishmen in 1300 are perfectly capable of understanding Ash's very slangy modern English, and themselves speak modern English peppered with thees and shalts.
  • Opening Narration: Ash narrates the opening of the film, a brief recap the events of the last film.
  • Playing Possum: The Deadite witch that infiltrates the castle that Ash takes down. Arthur nearly does the classic Horror film screw-up of just touching it to see if it's dead, but Ash stops him.
    Ash: It's a trick. Get an axe.
  • Possession Levitation: Ash fights off a woman who got possessed by a demon in S-Mart. While he is shooting her, she floats in the air.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Replaced the Downer Ending that was made originally.
  • Precision F-Strike: Ash drops the movie's sole F-bomb while pushing his way through a crowd after retrieving the Necronomicon.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "This... Is... My... BOOMSTICK!"
  • Rated M for Manly: Although this is present in the second film as well, Army of Darkness is so manly that it can make your TV grow chest hair and a full-length beard. Some of it is definitely satirical, however.
  • Re-Cut: No less than four different versions of the movie exist:
    • The US Theatrical Cut, the first to be released, runs a lean 81 minutes and concludes with Ash returning to the present and battling one last Deadite in S-Mart.
    • The Director's Cut is much longer at 96 minutes, featuring some dialogue changes in addition to the many added and amended scenes, and ends with Ash waking up in a post-apocalyptic future.
    • The International Cut, the version released theatrically in Europe, Australia and Japan, is simply the Director's Cut with the S-Mart ending and a few other edits.
    • The US Television Cut is the US theatrical cut with most of the explicit language and violence removed, as well as two deleted scenes which aren't present in any other version.
    • A Fan Edit, the Primitive Screwhead Edition, has been created, which combines all of the scenes unique to each individual version of the film, resulting in an impressive 104 minute running time.
  • Refusal of the Call: Ash does everything he can to avoid being the savior the people need him to be. It takes a Damsel in Distress to finally convince him.
  • Retcon: Evil Dead 2 ended with the soldiers cheering a horrified Ash as the hero of prophecy who will save them from the Deadites. This one begins with only the Wiseman believing him to be so, and Arthur orders a confused Ash to be shackled and led away for execution.
  • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: After the bleak and sexually violent original and its equally graphic sequel, this movie is more of a wacky, comedic adventure movie that comes across more as a lot more parodic. In spite of this drastic tonal shift, it's still incredibly entertaining and the favorite film in the series among many audience members.
  • Revised Ending: Filmed originally was an Cruel Twist Ending with Ash waking up in post apocalyptic England after taking too much of a sleeping potion, which was changed to a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner-filled ending thanks to Executive Meddling.
  • Sexual Karma: Ash and Sheila's sex scene is played out as romantically as possible, with a rose-tinted lens, sunset and Ash gently letting Sheila's hair unravel as he gazes into her eyes. Evil Ash just rips Sheila's dress off and forces her to kiss his rotting, mutilated mouth.
  • Shout-Out:
    • At one point Ash calls The Wiseman "Spinach-chin". This is a reference to The Three Stooges short "Malice in the Palace".
    • Klaatu Barada Nikto!
    • Bad Ash's facial burns are very similar to the titular character's from Darkman, Sam Raimi's previous film.
    • Another The Three Stooges reference is after the Imperfect Ritual goes off and the skeletal hands hold Ash down and do an impromptu Stooges-style slap fight on Ash, including two attempts at a Moe-style Eye Poke (the first foiled by Ash, but the hands obviously learn).
    • The Necronomicon was already a shout-out to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, but Ash stumbling over the "n-word" in the spell brings to mind Lovecraft's infamous racism.
  • Skeletons in the Coat Closet: After Ash's Enemy Without becomes necrotized and takes charge of the Deadite army, he starts wearing a skull-like helmet.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Lampshaded by Ash.
    Ash: First you want to kill me, now you want to kiss me. Blow.
  • Sudden Downer Ending: This was the main reason for the original ending being changed — while Ash screwing up the potion and getting trapped in the future likely fits his character (and the trilogy as a whole) better, it was considered by executives to be an extremely jarring shift in tone from the rest of the almost purely comedic film.
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: The original ending.
  • Time-Passage Beard: Happens to Ash in the deleted alternate ending, when he "slept too long" and overshot the 20th century.
  • Time Travel: Ash was sent back to Arthurian times by The Necronomicon and Ash spends the majority of the movie trying to find a way to get back to his own time period.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Justified since Ash had gone through hell throughout the past two movies. By this point, he's just done taking everyone's crap and just wants to go home.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Sort of. They weren't exactly peaceful to begin with, but showing them how to make gunpowder certainly was useful. Oddly enough there's another scene where he teaches them how to use their own spear weapons.
    • The last bit is justified, as he is showing them to swing the spears, Whereas they would be more used to using them to stab and poke, which would be useless against an enemy with no vital organs to poke. As shown in a later scene this works out quite well.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Bad Ash and Bad Sheila.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: The beginning of the film sees Ash thrown into a pit containing a couple demons that he has to fight, as well as this particular Death Trap just to make things more exciting. He escapes by hanging onto the chain powering the closing walls as it moves up.
  • Warrior Undead: Some of the Deadites take the form of skeleton knights.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Ash manages to kill two of his tiny counterparts, but several of them manage to escape with no account for their whereabouts (one of the survivors becomes the main enemy of the Dynamite Comics Xena crossover).
    • His chainsaw hand isn't seen again after chopping up Evil Ash.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ash messes up reciting The Words and doesn't care that he has doomed everyone.
    Ash: Klaatu! Verata! Ni—*coughcoughcough*...OK then! That's it!
  • World of Ham: Oh definitely, though largely Played for Laughs.
  • The X of Y


Video Example(s):



Trapped in the past and in need of a replacement for his right hand, Ash resolves this by creating an Artificial limb out of an armored gauntlet.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / ArtificialLimbs

Media sources: