This ain’t your average chainsaw-for-a-hand-toting-demon-killing-mad-man-trapped-in-a-haunted-cabin-sent-back-in-time-to-fullfil-an-ancient-prophecy-to-save-the-world-from-total-demonic-annihilation-while-making-time-for-churning-body-butter-with-the-local-peasant-babe-flick. It’s the only one!
In 1992 Universal Pictures collected the rights to distribute Army of Darkness in the US, but hacked it to pieces to get an 81 minute version of the film which became a midnight cult classic. Now re-stored to its 96 minute director’s cut, the movie fares better than the original US cut. The extended sequences make the progression of the movie much more fluid than the first US release. This version is sillier and contains more comic reactions, a sex scene, more splatter shots, extended battle sequences, alternate cuts and dialogue and a darker context which stays true to its horror predecessors, the Evil Dead films. This movie contains the original “bummer” ending which was later re-shot to the S-mart finale shown in the US.
The problem with the restored footage is that some of the shots are not color corrected or featured in Universal’s wide scope. It’s kind of gritty and looks like a bootleg, but I think that’s the best we’re gonna get and we owe that to the folks at Anchor Bay Entertainment.
As for special features I think they did the best with what they could. There’s a cool start-up menu and an optional superimposed storyboard track that rolls along with the movie. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s commentary is pretty straightforward and doesn’t sound like other Hollywood-type dopes. The deleted scenes are nice and fun if you like that sort of thing and you can see Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell playing with the tools which would later mature into a one-shot experimental crime flick, Running Time. There’s an alternate opening which works well with the ending of the 96 minute version, but you’d have to see the whole flick to understand it.
And for a great Evil Dead tie-in take a read through Bruce Campbell’s If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor [also reviewed on this site].
Beware: Several versions of this movie exist. The original release on both full screen and widescreen, the video director’s cut, the DVD director’s cut, a double disk DVD Boomstick Edition from Universal, the unrated director’s cut, the unrated European director’s cut and anything else I might’ve missed. And I’ve heard, if you can find it, that the double disk DVD Boomstick Edition is the best.
Army of Darkness (The Director’s Cut) (4 out of Four)
NR, 1992, 96 min., Anchor Bay Entertainment.
Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Tim Quill, Bridget Fonda, Music By Joseph LoDuca, “March of the Dead” Theme by Danny Elfman, Written by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi, Produced by Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell and Directed by Sam Raimi.
Filmmaker’s Commentary with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Ivan Raimi, Deleted Scenes and Storyboards.
Other Horror / Sci-Fi Schlockers:
Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil, Time Bandits, Repo Man, Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Movie, Spaced Invaders, Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator, H. P. Lovecraft’s From Beyond, Space Truckers, Flash Gordon, Flesh Gordon, The Puppet Master movies, Dollman, Demonic Toys, Dollman Vs. Demonic Toys, Trancers, Scanners, Subspecies, Demon Wind, Death Row Gameshow, Sundowner, Zombie, Return of the Living Dead, Phantasm, Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Deep Blue Sea, Lake Placid, Child’s Play, Killer Klowns From Outerspace, Lifeforce, Bubba Hotep …