Beginning with a condensed recap of the previous film then continuing almost directly where it left off, Army Of Darkness starts with Ash trapped in medieval England in the year 1300 AD, where he is captured by medieval knights led by Lord Arthur. (This, of course, directly contradicts the ending of Evil Dead II where the knights hailed him as the “hero from the sky”). Arthur and his troops have fought a long, bloody battle with Henry The Red (“lord of the Northlands”, presumably meaning Scotland), who lives in the hills with his men; but both camps fear the Deadites which roam the nearby woods.
Ash is taken prisoner, along with Henry and his men, and taken back to Arthur’s castle. Upon proving himself and setting Henry free, Ash strikes a deal with Arthur and his Merlinesque “Wise Man” – in return for Ash going into the woods and retrieving the Necronomicon (which has the power to banish the Deadites), he will be sent back to his own time via one of the incantations in the Book. Meanwhile, Ash begins a tentative relationship with Sheila, a maiden at the castle.
After being pursued by the Evil Force in the woods, Ash retreats to an abandoned windmill where, he is beset by evil tiny versions of himself that emerge from the shattered remnants of a broken mirror. One of the tiny Ashes manage to climb down Ash’s throat and painfully emerges from his body as a fully grown doppelganger. Ash blows his double away with a blast of his trusty shotgun and retrieves the Necronomicon – but in doing so bungles the recitation of a passage intended to calm the book, setting the evil spirits free to descend upon the castle. Desperate to return back to the present, Ash refutes Arthur and the Wiseman’s request for help, but soon changes his mind once Sheila is kidnapped by none other than the revived Evil Ash, who is leading an malevolent army of skeletons towards the castle...
You can read about & download a personally preserved HD digital transfer of the 35mm Army Of Darkness trailer shown above, on the The Evil Dead Trilogy 35mm Trailers page in the Features section. As of the date of writing, this transfer is the only HD version of the trailer available anywhere in the world. It's included in standard definition on a plethora of DVD & Blu-Ray releases, but none of these are in high definition. It's freely available for personal use and fanmade DVD/Blu-Ray projects. Should anyone want access to the untouched 2K transfer, or should any professional media companies wish to include this trailer on a retail release, please contact me first. You can read a PDF version of the script below. This is the original shooting script not a transcript so there are some sections & alterations you can read that didn't make it in to the final film. Its formatted as per the original script and was written by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi together completed February 2, 1991.
The idea that an energetic low-budget indie splatter flick like The Evil Dead would be followed two sequels and ten years later by a studio-backed medieval fantasy action pic seems inherently absurd, but in retrospect Raimi’s concern with both Evil Dead sequels is not continuity, either in tone or in keeping up a regular mythology. Rather, each film is a pure expression of Sam’s evolution as a filmmaker, and his increasing ambitions.
At the time of its release, Army was decried by many old-school fans who sorely missed the blood and guts, and many in general theatre audience were left confused by the combination of genres. Now taken in its proper context, it was extremely unlikely that Sam would have wanted to follow it up with another claustrophobic horror film (albeit with strong comedy elements) having just hit the top of the box office with 1990’s Darkman. He has made no secret of the fact he is an unashamedly populist filmmaker; whilst the lighter, largely blood-free tone of Army is partly down to intervention from Universal Pictures, it is also the result of Sam’s desire to communicate to as wide an audience as possible.
Today, the film has been heartily embraced by a new generation of fans who have no problem with the broader emphasis on slapstick humour or the remolding of Ash into a quote-spouting action hero (albeit a much put-upon, rather foolish one, another of Raimi’s subversive trademarks). Though many of its effects have dated, and it can be somewhat incoherent depending on which version you watch, as ever the film succeeds through Raimi’s sheer enthusiasm to throw every trick in the book at the audiences to entertain them. Bruce Campbell lives up to every challenge (and torment) thrown at him, and is supported by an able cast largely playing it straight.
Though again not a box-office success, the film has had a sustained afterlife on video and DVD, having been re-released a seemingly record amount of times. Its influence can not only be felt in the numerous video games that have stolen Ash’s one-liners, but even in films like The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers, where Peter Jackson has ackowedged that the battle of Helm’s Deep was inspired by the climactic battle in Army.