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Film / Army of Darkness

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"Hail to the king, baby."
Ash Williams

Army of Darkness (1992) is the third movie in the Evil Dead franchise.

Ash 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.

This film provides examples of:

  • 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: Yeah, Englishmen in 1300 knew full well what gunpowder was.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Mocked.
    Deadite Sheila: "You found me beautiful once."
    Ash: "Honey, you got reeaaaal ugly."
  • Black and Gray Morality:
    • Lampshaded.
    Good Ash: Good... bad... I'm the guy with the gun.
    Good Ash: I ain't that good.
  • 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 they're attacked by a Deadite witch, and the smith 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.
  • Brick Joke: In the theatrical ending, when the customer listening to Ash's story asks if Ash said the words right this time. Of course not.
  • 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.
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  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Taken Up to Eleven with the Cool Car's combat refit.
  • Dem Bones: Most of the eponymous Army raised by Evil Ash/the Necronomicon.
  • Description Porn: Ash introducing his boomstick.
  • 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 Twin: Evil Ash
  • Evil Makeover: 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.
  • Forging Scene: Ash and the villagers building his Armored-hand and supplying weapons to his car. "Groovy".
  • 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.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: 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.
  • Gulliver Tie-Down: The mini-Ashes do this after Ash knocks himself out in the medieval windmill.
  • Heel–Face Turn: In a sense. Ash turns from a selfish jerk who only wants to get home, to a hero driving away the evil from the land he has no intent to stay in.
    • To be fair, this whole business really WAS his fault anyway.
  • 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.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Arthur: Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?
    Ash: Nope. Just me baby. Just me.
  • Ironic Echo: "Gimme some sugar, baby."
  • 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.
  • 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: Ash plays it straight early to get the drop on Arthur, with the old "your shoe's untied" move. When it's not even clear that Arthur even has shoelaces, no less. Played for Laughs when he buries Evil Ash, where he's doing it in part to stop Evil Ash's gloating and in part to taunt Evil Ash by pointing out just where he's about to dump some dirt.
  • 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!"
  • The Middle Ages: Setting of this film.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Plot Hole:
    • Ash chains Bad Ash to a table in the windmill he's squatting in before hacking him to pieces with his chainsaw. The problem with this is that during the scene where Ash arrived at the windmill his horse, which may have been carrying the chainsaw, was scared off into the woods by the evil entity chasing him. Ash was left to run to the windmill on foot, where he was clearly not carrying the chainsaw.
    • When Ash escapes from The Pit, as spiked walls close on it. Several minutes later, the monster from the pit climbs out, despite the walls still being closed, and Ash shoots it with his shotgun that he didn't have a few seconds earlier, causing it to fall back into the pit and land in the water below. (Though in the Director's Cut, a villager was explicitly shown giving Ash the shotgun back.)
  • 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.
  • 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 snap him out of it.
  • 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 Ass Kicking One Liner filled ending thanks to Executive Meddling.
    • "Hail to the King, baby."
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Blade on a Stick weapons.
  • 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 few 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.
  • Weaponized Car: See Cool Car above.
  • 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.
    • 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!
    • It takes the castle getting raided, everyone turning his back on him, and his love interest kidnapped for him to make him see sense.
  • World of Ham: Oh definitely, though largely Played for Laughs.
  • The X of Y
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: the English in 1300 are perfectly capable of understanding Ash's very slangy modern English, and themselves speak modern English peppered with "thee"s and "shalt"s.