Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Army of Darkness

Evil Dead (2013)

Ash would have saved the day in no time. Oh, Bruce. How I miss you so.

Five twenty-something friends hole up in a remote cabin for a weekend filled of booze, drugs, sex, and a bunch of fun. Problems get in the way of their plans once when they discover a strange novel downstairs in the basement  called the Book of the Dead. As they continue to read the book, they unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods, which possess the youngsters to get killed-off, one by one, until only one is left intact to fight for survival.

Of course, there’s a little bit more than I let on with that synopsis. There’s more human-emotions going on this time around where family members quarrel, friends have arguments  and a sister is trying to kick a drug habit. But however, the story is still the same and it’s not because that plot-line has been done already once by the original Evil Dead, but because it’s been used in almost every other camp-fire story ever told before the sands of time. We all know that whenever kids go out to a cabin in the woods, all they want to do is chill out, party, drink a little brew, have a little sex, and just get out of the real world, when in reality (or non-reality): the exact opposite happens to them. It was fine when it was done in the 80’s, and heck, it was even fine when it was done last year (Cabin in the Woods), but enough is enough with the simple, conventional horror stories, and most importantly: enough is enough with the goddamn, useless remakes. Yes, I am talking about this movie.

Been raping young, teenage girls est. 1981.

Been raping young, teenage girls est. 1981.

If there is any amount of credit I have to give to this film, it’s director Fede Alvarez who actually does some new and cool things with this already-known story. Not does he change certain things up a bit with the story and how people die, but he totally abandons the humor-aspect. In ways, this works, and in ways; it doesn’t. But what should be known is that for all that the guy does, at least he does it with energy and some amount of heart. “Some”, being the key word.

Alvarez starts this flick pretty interestingly, having us have to deal with characters pissing and moaning, but also watching as how they don’t really know what to expect. But that’s where the interesting-aspect begins to go away, and the conventionality of this movie begins. It isn’t that I don’t mind when a horror movie likes to have fun with itself, gross us out, and even give us a couple of shockers along the way (you know what I mean, pervs), but I at least want to see something new and original, almost as if I haven’t seen it done before, ever. Now, I know that’s hard when you take a genre like the horror genre, and try to spin it 100 ways it’s already been spun, but you at least got to add a new flavor, a new coding, or just a simple piece of the recipe that may spice things up a bit. The “simple piece of the recipe that may spice things up a bit”, is definitely Alvarez’s unapologetic use of gore, blood, and/or ketchup packets and blood-flavored corn syrup, but that can only go so far, when you have characters doing THE SAME DAMN THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Movies like this bother me because they always want to please the audience into thinking that everything they are about to watch is going is to surprise the hell out of them and shock them in one way they weren’t expecting (once again, cut it out you pervs), but it just doesn’t. The least-important characters to the story usually get knocked-off from least-meaningful to the main character, almost as if it was your wedding invitations; characters still fall for the bone-headed tricks like a monster changing it’s face to sound like the human they have possessed; and characters not having the balls to pull the trigger on that possessed-human, even if they know already that they are fucked-up, and never coming back. Also, while I’m at it; why does every, single character in a horror movie have to act like they don’t know what’s going to happen next when they enter a room, because the person they were talking to didn’t answer them? Really! If the person didn’t answer when you called them the first 500 times, either they don’t want to talk to you or they’re dead. It’s either one or the other. That’s what I usually used to think with all of my ex’s, but when it came right down to it: it was more of the former, than the latter. My life: one big misery.

Not campy enough!

Not campy enough!

But some of you out there may be saying, “Well, the original was just like that” or “That’s just how most horror movies are.” If you were to say any of those two statements to me, online or in real-life, I would have to agree with you but then also have a nice, calmed, and relaxed discussion about how the original had all of those conventions, but at least had fun with them in a campy, small-budgeted way. Sam Raimi and friends didn’t give a crap if they were re-inventing the wheel or changing the way the world works, they just wanted to have some fun, splash some paint everywhere they could, and get a good laugh while they were at it. This movie is too concerned with being serious, trying to be scary, and doing all that it can in it’s might, to have us feel like, as the poster says, “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience.” Raimi didn’t give a crap about that, but apparently Alvarez was in a total, and completely and different world when he realized that maybe the original could be better, if it was serious and more about it’s scares. Once again, it may or may not have been his thought-process when he saw that classic, but something tells me it what exactly that.

As usual, every character is a cliché we have all seen before, but at least the performances are okay, right? Ehh! Shiloh Fernandez has just about sucked nuts in about everything I’ve seen him in, but he’s fine here as the older, more wiser brother. He isn’t corny and he isn’t trying too hard. Good for him. Apparently there was a lot of talk about how the character of Ash wouldn’t be in this movie. But not just the name, mind you, the actual fact that an Ash-like character would pop-up in this movie, but as a (get ready for it)….WOMAN!! That’s right. Jane Levy plays the troubled-sister going all cold turkey on everybody’s asses and is fine for what she has to do, but is actually left to be possessed for the longest time. Eventually, she does get the chance to have her fun time, but it isn’t until a little, too late in the game, to where she doesn’t even seem to pose a threat to these monsters, witches, and bad-souls. These are the only two that are worth mentioning in this flick, and considering that the movie holds a main cast of only 5 or 6 people; it’s a bit of a bummer.

Consensus: For fans of the horror genre, no matter how obvious or predictable it may get at times, the remake of Evil Dead will please most gore-lovers out there, but there isn’t much else that will shock you, surprise you, or even scare you for that matter. In my opinion, just stay at home and check out the original Evil Dead, or the whole Army of Darkness trilogy and just be reminded of how awesome Raimi and Bruce Campbell were, when they worked together.

5 / 10 = Rental!!

Only the face a legion of cult-fans could love.

Only the face a legion of cult-fans could love.


Halloween Horror Movie Month: Army of Darkness (1992)

It’s official, Martin Lawrence totally tried to copy The Bruce Campbell. Obviously, it didn’t work.

This begins where Evil Dead II left off, except once again retconning the fact that Ash killed the flying bird thing at the beginning. Instead, he is taken prisoner by English knights at war with a group of Scots. After Ash shows his skill and superiority when killing the “Deadite” used for executions, the film takes a very adventures turn. Ash tries to fling the Necronomicon, mistakenly chants the phrase wrong, and is soon against an army of the undead.

It’s sort of weird that I placed this in the Halloween Horror Movie Month-meme because this one really isn’t as much of a horror flick as much as it’s more of a comedy. However, it is part of the Evil Dead franchise, so I guess it belongs here in that sense and it also makes me feel great knowing that I have finally got done watching it all. And jeez, what a franchise, man.

Since this was made after Sam Raimi hit it pretty big with Darkman two years before, the budget here’s definitely a lot bigger than what he was used to working with, which basically meant he was able to do whatever the hell he wanted, how he wanted, and with as much moolah as he wanted. That’s a pretty smart-idea to pull-off because if you give Raimi enough money, he’ll definitely be able to make it work and that’s what he shows off here.

There’s a lot of fun to be had here with this movie: the comedy is more obvious now but still goofy and over-the-top, the monsters are a lot better-looking, but still odd; and the action is very polished, but still entertaining as hell to watch on-screen. It’s obvious that this movie is very different from the other ones because of what it has at it’s disposal, but that doesn’t really seem to get in the way of Raimi and what he wants to do with this movie, and that’s to pretty much just give us another wacky and wild ride, but this go-around, is placed in the middle ages, where there seems to be a lot more goofy crap happening.

Since this is a pretty up-front comedy, I think it’s pretty safe to say that on that level, it definitely works. Just watching Ash go around and say dumb shit to these characters, without them having a single-clue as to what he means is really, really funny. There’s a whole bunch of anachronistic humor here, but it never seems over-used and just continued to make me laugh and laugh a lot more. I mean, hey, the sight of a 1982 station-wagon standing side-by-side a knight and his horse is pretty damn funny once you take into a consideration the fact that none of these characters have any idea just what the hell that actually is. As I said before, not as much of a scary movie as it is funny, and that’s the real charm behind it all, is that it is funny and knows how to play around with itself.

However, when you look at it as a movie that came after the first two, it sort of pales in-comparison. Granted, this movie is still a strong add into the trilogy, but definitely seems a lot more careful with itself now, considering that there was more of an opportunity to be a mainstream hit, when we all know that Evil Dead is not for a large audience, because some love it and some get it. One of the biggest disappointments of this whole movie is the fact that there definitely doesn’t seem to be as much gore or blood this time around and a lot of the action and violence is shown, but never shown in an over-the-top way that made the first two so much fun. Actually, for a movie that’s rated-R, it’s a bit tame and seems like Raimi wasn’t allowed to do everything that he wanted, simply because of the big, studio-heads that were probably behind this movie.

It’s not that the love or the spirit isn’t here, because it definitely is, it just feels as if it could have been more of a successful stand-alone movie, rather than one that’s associated with the Evil Dead franchise because Ash is in it. But you know what? Ash is also probably the best thing about this movie and it’s all because of how freakin’ cool and king-like Bruce Campbell is, once again too, may I add. Even though it seems like a bit of a shaky-idea to have Ash out of the cabin, fighting demons and have him now in the middle ages, still fighting demons, it still provides a lot of opportunity for Campbell to really stretch out his comedic skills and show everybody what he’s got and needles to say, the results are far from disappointing.

It helps that the script he’s working off of is pretty solid, but Campbell still adds a lot of that goofy, campy charm to a movie that seemed like it really needed that to remind us of the old movies. A shitty line like “Give me some sugar, baby”, just wouldn’t sound right if it was placed in any other movie, with any other actor saying the line, but thankfully, this is an Evil Dead movie and it is Bruce Campbell who delivers that line. Seriously, if a lot of you out there don’t like the first two or don’t even understand the real charm and awesomeness of Campbell, then I urge you to see this movie and watch it for his performance alone. There’s just something about him and his comedic-timing that just puts him and Ash one step ahead of everybody else in this flick and it’s definitely one of the best elements of the whole movie. Guy had me howling from start-to-finish, but he still kicked-ass when the movie needed him to and you know, that’s all that really mattered to me.

Consensus: Army of Darkness is definitely the weakest entry of the whole Evil Dead franchise, but is still a fun movie in it’s own right mainly because of the charm and likability of it’s leading man: the man, the myth, the mother ‘effin legend, Mr. Bruce Campbell, everybody.