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When I saw the trailer for Army of Darkness in 1993, I was at a loss. It featured our brazen hero, Ash, once again battling the horrific deadites, only they didn’t look so horrific this time around. There were moments that made me chuckle a bit.
What is this and why am I laughing? This is not The Evil Dead, this is Army of Darkness! I was 13 years old and on the brink of my freshman year in high school. Since the time between Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, I wised up a bit, what-with going to high school and all, so it was no surprise to me to take notice that there was something different about this new installment into the franchise.
My brain screamed, “Noooooooo!”
First, they opted out of using the words “Evil” and “Dead” in the title and our hero, Ash, was now a loud-mouthed comedian! In said year, 1993, I was not purvey to the plethora of information that the internet now provides us. So I knew close to nothing about director Sam Raimi and his cohorts. I didn’t know that they were huge fans of “The Three Stooges” nor that many of their collegiate shorts were comedic in nature. Of course, I should’ve taken note of that with Evil Dead II but c’mon, I mean, I was seven!
Unofficially, it was The Evil Dead III but, as I found out years later, the change in title had something to do with Hollywood politics that I won’t get into for the sake of the blog entry.
There was a common denominator in this story as with my previous two entries regarding the first two films in the Evil Dead series… my dad. Sure, I could’ve taken the train to my local movie theater on 181st Street in Manhattan, however, it wasn’t playing there. So, again, I asked my dad to take me. I enjoyed going to the movies with my father but I knew this movie wasn’t his cup of tea. To my surprise, he agreed to take me and off we went to United Artists Movieland in Yonkers, NY right off of Central Avenue.
There was nothing special about the movie theater from an architectural standpoint and was actually, what most would consider, bare. Still, it was a theater in which my father and I frequented on many occasions having watched movies such as Robocop, The Believers, Predator, Back to the Future II, Batman, etc, etc. It was a personal favorite of ours having been conveniently located near a Dragon’s Den and a Bradlee’s! As you can see, there was “entertainment” abound from the the East and West as the theater was in the center of this strip mall.
There were many things about the movie that changed dramatically from its predecessors, namely the overall tone of the film. Where we saw a mixture of both horror and comedy in Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness seemed to have been an all out comedy. Was I happy about this? No, not initially. But, with time (about 30 minutes into the movie) I found myself digging this installment.
At the film’s conclusion, I remember trying to fit all the pieces together. Was this indeed part the Evil Dead series? Why did it make me laugh? And why was there a marching band of the dead? Surely, there was a mistake, right?
Was there to be more? The end of Army of Darkness certainly left open the possibilities of another sequel and The Evil Dead IV was inevitable… or so I thought. For years there have been rumors that Sam Raimi will helm a fourth sequel to the franchise. The rumors are still present to this day where Bruce Campbell has said he will do another sequel to the film so long as Raimi is on board. More likely than not, they probably just get a kick out of watching these rabid fans foam at the mouth. The bastards! Still love’ em though.
Sad to say but, our hero Ash has aged and I’d have to wonder if he can still pull off the many stunts and obstacles that young Ash had to endure during his first couple of stints with the Deadites. But then again, Harrison Ford was able to bring Indiana Jones back to life despite his lackluster and aged appearance.
Fast forward a couple of years and there was still no word on the fourth installment of The Evil Dead. By this time, a technological marvel was becoming very crucial to my everyday life… the World Wide Web. No longer did I have to wait for the latest issue of Fangoria to get the latest news on upcoming movies but all I had to do was sign up via 56k modem and hop on a newsgroup where unconfirmed rumors were plentiful. Still, the Evil Dead IV was (and still is) in Hollywood limbo and all I can do is hope that one day it will be released to the eagerly awaiting fan base.