Posts Tagged ‘Army of Darkness

28
Oct
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 276: The Showcase Boys Vs. the Evil Dead

 

The Showcase Halloween Marathon returns! This year, the guys tackle Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell’s trilogy of terror, Evil Dead, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. The guys also discuss the Dynamite Comics and the upcoming Evil Dead remake. In the picks, Kenny goes Halloween-y with the Vampire Hunter D franchise, and Blake gets a little meta with Superman #13. Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 276: The Showcase Boys Vs. the Evil Dead

22
Oct
12

Lunatics and Laughter Day 11: Army of Darkness (1992)

Director: Sam Raimi

Writers: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi

Cast: Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert, Ian Abercrombie, Richard Grove, Bridget Fonda, Patricia Tallman, Ted Raimi

Plot: S-Mart employee Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) has had a hard time of it – finding the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead), awakening something terrible, getting attacked by zombie-like “Deadites,” being forced to kill his possessed girlfriend and chop off his own hand, and then getting hurled back in time to the middle ages. As the film opens, Ash recalls how he fell through a time portal (along with his car, shotgun, and chainsaw) and was taken into captivity by the soldiers of a warlord named Arthur (Marcus Gilbert). Although Arthur’s Wise Man (Ian Abercrombie) believes Ash to be a prophesied  savior, Arthur has him chained with the men of his captured enemy, Henry the Red (Richard Grove). As the captives are marched to a pit for execution, Arthur is attacked by a woman named Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) whose brother was slain by Henry’s men. Arthur blames Henry for loosing an evil upon the land, but Henry claims his men have fallen prey to the same beast. Arthur opens the pit and a captive is tossed in, blood erupting from the bottom. Ash tries to convince Arthur he’s not one of Henry’s men, but Sheila hurls a rock at him and he falls into the pit, where a Deadite awaits. The Wise Man throws Ash’s chainsaw into the pit and, his weapon returned, he escapes. He sets Henry free and uses his shotgun to intimidate Arthur’s men, into obeying him.

The Wise Man tells Ash his only hope of returning home lies in finding the Necronomicon. He prepares for battle, making a mechanical hand for himself. Sheila gives him a blanket, hoping to apologize for her actions, but he rebuffs her at first. When it’s clear she’s upset, he instructs her to “Give me some sugar, baby,” and she sends him off with a kiss. The Wise Man gives Ash the words he needs to allow him to take the book safely: “Klatu Verada Nikto,” but the overconfident Ash refuses to repeat them more than once. He’s pursued by the dark forces from inside the book, who burst from a broken mirror as several miniature versions of himself, tormenting him in painful and amusing ways. One manages to to jump down his throat and sprouts from him as a full-grown “Evil Ash,” whom Ash manages to subdue, chop up, and bury. Ash makes his way to the stone altar where the Necronomicon awaits, but finds he has forgotten the Wise Man’s magic words. He tries to fake his way through it, but when he takes the book an army of skeletal Deadites rises from the earth. Evil Ash, now rotting and mutating, rises to lead them.

Returning to the Castle, Ash insists the Wise Man send him home as soon as possible. Before it can happen, a flying Deadite swoops in and takes Sheila captive. It brings her to Evil Ash, who is opening every grave to set free even more Deadites. When word of the army reaches Arthur he debates fleeing, but Ash is determined to stand and fight.  He convinces Arthur’s remaining me to stay, and sends an envoy to Henry the Red, hoping to recruit his army to their cause as well. The Deadite Army approaches, a now-possessed Sheila at Evil Ash’s side, and battle ensues.

Ash’s homemade gunpowder gives Arthur’s forces an early advantage, but the Deadites break down a gate and get inside the fortress walls. Just as it seems the living will be overwhelmed by the dead, Henry the Red’s forces arrive and turn the tide. Evil Ash and Sheila overwhelm the guards protecting the Necronomicon, but Ash manages to toss her over the side of the wall and face his counterpart. The two battle, and Ash defeats the monster and saves the book. The rest of the Deadites retreat, and Sheila is restored. Arthur and Henry make peace and the Wise Man gives Ash a potion that will send him to his own time, provided he can remember the magic words. He bids Sheila farewell and returns to his time and his home, working in S-Mart, where we see him telling the story to an unconvinced, unimpressed coworker. Suddenly, a customer transforms into a Deadite, attacking, and Ash grabs a rifle from the store’s case, blowing her away. It’s not too bad to be home.

Thoughts: The Evil Dead franchise (I covered the first film in the original Reel to Reel project) is a strange animal. The first film is a straight-up “Cabin in the Woods” sort of horror movie. The sequel, Evil Dead II, is a virtual remake of the first, copying the plot and largely ignoring the first film, but providing better special effects and a brand of dark comedy the first laughed. By this third installment, writer/director Sam Raimi decided to go for a full-blown comedy. Bruce Campbell’s Ash – a struggling everyman in the first film – had become a cool-as-ice balls-of-steel action hero capable of creating advanced robotic prosthetics with 14th-century technology. And yes, we love him for it.

Early in the movie Raimi ramps up the already-gory franchise to a truly comical degree, with a literal geyser of blood early. The violence, however, has a much more comical tone than in the first two films, and after that initial spout, there’s surprisingly little blood. A lot of that comes down to the monsters that make up most of the movie – rather than fleshy pseudo-zombies as in the first two movies, the majority of the Deadites this time around are reanimated skeletons – fun to break, but not much blood to spray at the camera. As Ash battles the stop-motion skeletal Deadites, there’s a nice feel of the Three Stooges meeting Jason and the Argonauts. Every bit of action is far sillier than would have been allowed in the earlier movies, in fact. The scene where Ash leaps into the air and snaps his chains aw on to his dismembered hand would be preposterous even in a more serious, Type-A horror/comedy. This movie rides the line between the two types – the basic plot is something out of a horror (or perhaps more accurately, medieval fantasy) film. The antics of Ash and the Deadites, however, are too broad to really place in the same category as Ghostbusters and the like.

For sheer silly, though, nothing tops the battle with the mini-Ashes. This segment is full of pure slapstick, comedic moments that aren’t too far off from the antics of Home Alone, about as far from a straight-up horror movie as you can get. The only thing that keeps things even a little creepy here is Bruce Campbell’s attitude as he does battle with the miniatures, his face growing truly maniacal as he guzzles boiling hot water in the hopes of destroying one that forced itself down his throat. The rest of the scene spins wildly though different gags: Ash finds an eyeball growing on his shoulder and it’s goofy (although there is, to be fair, a nice dose of body horror in that moment), the eye begins sprouting into a second Ash and it gets silly again. If it weren’t for the unique charm Campbell brings to the character, the whole thing would be entirely too inane to give even a moment’s consideration.

That said, Ash truly is an iconic character, thanks mostly to this movie. One of the greatest horror/comedy moments of all time has to be Bruce Campbell’s “boomstick” speech, where he extols the virtues of shopping at S-Mart to a crowd of medieval screwheads (I quote him directly, of course) who live in a world where the fictional retail giant won’t even exist for another 700 years. If you know a movie fan who loves Bruce Campbell and you can’t figure out why, I can only assume you’ve never watched this movie.

The Army of the Dead itself is a pretty macabre sight. Raimi gives us a complex mixture of stop-motion skeletons, mechanical puppets, and people in costumes. Although it’s fairly easy to tell the difference between them, at this point you’ve bought so completely into the world in front of you that you don’t even care if the effects aren’t seamless, the greenscreen is obvious and the action is more like a live action Looney Tunes short than anything else. In fact, some of the more technically absurd moments are the most entertaining. Whenever one of the skeletons explodes in a sudden burst of white dust, you get a visceral thrill, and if you can watch a group of skeletons storming a castle with a battering ram without your inner 11-year-old thinking about how awesome it is, something is terribly wrong with you. By the time Bruce Campbell fights two Deadites with two different swords at the same time, you’re either a fan for life or you’re never going to appreciate what you’re watching.

I know a lot of people prefer this movie’s rather famous original ending, in which Ash is returned home via a magic sleeping potion, but he takes too much, sleeps too long, and awakens in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Thematically, it actually fits the trilogy pretty well. The first movie was unflinchingly bleak, the sequel only marginally less so. Ending the series with a completely hopeless climax would have been perfectly in character. That said, I’m kind of glad Raimi relented and gave us the ending he did. Maybe it’s just because I’m basically a positive person. Maybe it’s because I think Ash deserves a happy ending after everything he’s been through. Or maybe it’s just because the S-Mart finale gives Ash one last moment to be kick a little ass, I don’t know. All I know is that if the theatrical ending had never been filmed, we never would have been treated to Ash’s immortal “Hail to the King, baby.” And that would be a damn shame.

Don’t forget, Lunatics and Laughter is the second Reel to Reel movie study. The first, Mutants, Monsters and Madmen, is now available as a $2.99 eBook in the Amazon Kindle store and Smashwords.com bookstore. And you can find links to all of my novels, collections, and short stories, in their assorted print, eBook and audio forms, at the Now Available page!

And while the 20 films for the first phase of Lunatics and Laughter have been selected, I’m still taking suggestions for next year’s expanded eBook edition. I’m especially looking for good horror/comedies from before 1980, so if you’ve got any ideas, please share them in the comments section.

16
Sep
12

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 272: The Ultimate Top Ten Time Travel Stories

In the newest Showcase Top Ten, Blake and Kenny go through the greatest time travel stories of all time. The guys present their lists, read comments from you, and announce the final winners! In the picks, Kenny goes with Green Lantern Corps #0 and Blake takes Archer and Armstrong #2 Contact us with comments, suggestions, or anything else at Showcase@CXPulp.com!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 272: The Ultimate Top Ten Time Travel Stories

22
Aug
09

Back to work…

I’ve actually gotten an awful lot of work done this week, so I thought I’d share it with you. In addition to the new chapter of Lost in Silver (the book is almost over, so those of you who told me you’re waiting for the end to read it all at once, get ready), I’ve gotten many, many pages written of my newest project, still untitled. I can’t say exactly how much, however, because it’s all been written longhand, during moments I’ve managed to steal during the day. I don’t know why, but I often find I work better if I do my first draft longhand.

Also longhand, I’ve done work on A Long November and Other Stories. I’ve written an introduction for the eBook, as well as notes on each of the nine stories it will contain. It was actually a lot of fun to write, it was like visiting old friends again. (That reminds me — if my sister is reading, I still want to do that Bixby series some day. He shows up in the Christmas stories and I miss those characters, damn it.)

And finally, I’ve been reviewing up a storm. Here are the reviews I’ve tossed out there since the last time I updated you guys:

Look to the skies…

100_1225

11
Jul
09

What I’m Reading: Blackest Night #0

Blackest Night #0Since I’ve more or less decided to review all the chapters of Blackest Night here at Evertime Realms, I went back and pulled out the zero issue released in may for Free Comic Book Day. Produced by the same creative team — Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis — that will handle the regular miniseries, this issue takes place just after the Green Lantern #43 I reviewed the other day.

Hal Jordan is joined by his best friend, Barry Allen. Both the Green Lantern and the Flash are heroes who have come back from death, a feat that has been accomplished by a lot of people across the DC Universe. Today, though, they ponder those who haven’t come back from death’s door, and perhaps more importantly, why they did.

One of the central themes that Johns says will be explored in Blackest Night is the question of why so many superheroes seem to be able to cheat death again and again, and this issue sets up that theme nicely. It’s also a good focus on Hal and Barry as friends. Their own friendship is explored, as is their relationships to certain fallen heroes that we know will show their faces as Black Lanterns. (At this point at least five different Black Lanterns have been confirmed through solicitations and the like, but I won’t mention them here). Basically, the point of this book is to show the readers the chessboard. It reminds us where all the pieces are, who is in play and who isn’t, and gets us ready for the main event.

The book also features a series of pages drawn by Green Lantern artist Doug Mahnke. Each spread features a different one of the eight corps and points out the key players in each one. For those who may not have been reading the last two years of the two Green Lantern titles (more the fool you), it’ll get you up to speed quickly.

So that’s it. The prologues have been read, the players are all in place, and the Blackest Night is about to be unleashed. More than any time in my life of reading comics, I just can’t wait for Wednesday.

RATING: 7/10

Since we all do have to wait for Wednesday, though, how about you take a look at some of the other reviews I’ve written lately over at Comixtreme?

24
Dec
08

A gift from Erin — and more Christmas Comics

I’ll link you guys to this week’s Everything But Imaginary column in just a moment, but before that, I want to show off a little. Everyone’s best friend, the UPS man, stopped at the door yesterday with a box for me, sent from the far-off reaches of Pittsburgh. I popped it open to find a couple of sweet gifts from Erin:

A little bag of “Snowman Poop” sits atop a canister of “Snow to Go,” which is a nice little powder that turns into faux snow with just a dash of water. Also, arriving in a separate package, the DVD of Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp, which makes her totally awesome. But the coup de grace was the Lenox China Superman ornament.

The Superman ornament is really cool — nicely sculpted, beautifully painted. The white cape took me by surprise, until Erin explained it’s kind of a Lenox trademark — every piece they make has the white China and gold trim on it somewhere. It makes a unique-looking figure. Erin tells me she’s got a Batman of her own. Eventually, we’ll hang the World’s Finest on a tree together.

Anyway, how about I show you guys this week’s EBI? A couple of weeks ago, I went through several of this year’s Christmas comics. This week, I finish the job!

Everything But Imaginary #290: Christmas Tales From the Longbox II
Inside This Column:

27
Oct
08

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 90: Halloween Spooktacular II

It’s the second annual 2 in 1 Showcase Halloween Spooktacular! In this oversized episode, the boys talk about their favorite slashers, both in the movies and in comics. The guys talk about the worlds of Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and the Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash crossover, plus a discussion of the best slasher series ever to come out of comics, Hack/Slash. In the picks, Chase is a fan of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen Special #1, while Blake has been introduced to the coolness that is Supernatural Law. E-mail us with your comments, “Ask Chase Anything” questions, or anything else at Showcase@comixtreme.com!

Episode 90: Halloween Spooktacular II

But the Halloween Fun doesn’t stop there! We’ve got TWO mini-episodes for you this week! First up, a special flashback to April, when the guys recorded a special segment for the Library of the Living Dead Podcast featuring the Marvel Zombies!

Episode 89.5: Marvel Zombies

Next, Blake is here to give you a reading of an all-new Halloween short story. You can read the full story as it’s serialized over the next week right here at Evertime Realms but he hopes you enjoy this audio version of the first part of the tale. Enjoy “THE RESTLESS DEAD OF SIEGEL CITY!”

Episode 89.6: The Restless Dead
Inside This Episode:

 

21
Oct
08

2 in 1 Showcase Episode 89.5: Marvel Zombies

Back in April, the Showcase boys did a special segment for Dr. Pus’s Library of the Living Dead podcast giving their rundown of the Marvel Zombies universe! For those of you who missed that episode, it appears here in our feed for the first time. Happy Halloween, everybody!

Episode 89.5: Marvel Zombies
Inside This Episode:




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