|ARMY OF DARKNESS
Army of Darkness (also known as The Medieval Dead, Bruce Campbell vs. the Army of Darkness, Captain Supermarket (in Japan only) and The Ultimate Experience in Medieval Terror) is a comedic American horror / adventure film, released in 1993. The film is a sequel to The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Army of Darkness was directed by Sam Raimi, written by Raimi and his brother Ivan, produced by Rob Tapert, and staring Bruce Campbell once again as protagonist Ash Williams.
The movie had a considerably higher budget than the prior two Evil Dead films. The budget was estimated to be around $11 million; Evil Dead II had a budget of $3.5 million and The Evil Dead a budget of $350,000. At the box office, Army of Darkness was not a big success, only grossing $11,501,093 domestically. After its video release, however, it has obtained an ever-growing cult following, along with the other two films in the trilogy.
Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on gas.
They move. They breathe. They suck.
Sound the trumpets, raise the drawbridge, and drop the Oldsmobile.
In an age of darkness. At a time of evil. When the world needed a hero. What it got was him.
1 Man, 1 Million dead, The odds are just about even.
How can you destroy an army that's already dead?
Plans to make a third Evil Dead film had been circulating for a number of years, even prior to the production of Darkman. Director and script writer Sam Raimi drew from a variety of sources, including literature with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and films like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts and The Three Stooges. Evil Dead II, according to Bruce Campbell as quoted in Bill Warren's book, The Evil Dead Companion, "was originally designed to go back into the past to 1300, but we couldn't muster it at the time, so we decided to make an interim version, not knowing if the 1300 story would ever get made." Promotional drawings were created and published in Variety during the casting process before the budget was deemed too little for the plot. The working title for the project was Evil Dead II: Army of Darkness. The title "Army of Darkness" came from an idea by Irvin Shapiro, during the production of Evil Dead II.
The screenplay was mostly written in 1988. After filming Darkman, Raimi took the script out and worked on it with his brother, Ivan Raimi, who he had enjoyed collaborating with on Darkman and Easy Wheels. Raimi says that Ivan, "has a good sense of character", and that he brought more comedy into the script. Campbell remembers, "We all decided, 'Get him out of the cabin.' There were earlier drafts where part three still took place there, but we thought, 'Well, we all know that cabin, it's time to move on.' The three of us decided to keep it in 1300, because it's more interesting."
Evil Dead II made enough money internationally that Dino De Laurentiis was willing to finance a sequel. Raimi had been disappointed by his dealings with Universal Pictures during the production of Darkman. The initial budget was $8 million USD but during pre-production, it became obvious that this wasn't going to be enough. Darkman was also a financial success and so Universal decided to contribute half of the film's $12 million budget. However, the film's ambitious scope and its extensive effects work forced Campbell, Raimi, and Rob Tapert to put up $1 million of their collective salaries to shoot a new ending and not film a scene where a possessed woman pushes down some giant pillars.
Principal photography took place between soundstage and on-location work. Army of Darkness was filmed in Bronson Canyon and Vasquez Rocks National Park. The interior shots were filmed on an Introvision stage in Hollywood. Raimi's use of the Introvision process was a tribute to the stop-motion animation work of Ray Harryhausen. Introvision uses front-projected Images with live actors instead of the traditional rear projection that Harryhausen and others used. Introvision blended components with more realistic-looking results. Raimi explained its benefits in an American Cinematographer article: "the incredible amount of interaction between the background, which doesn't exist, and the foreground, which is usually your character."
The shooting for Army of Darkness began in mid-1991, and it lasted for about 100 days. It was a mid-summer shoot and while on location on a huge castle set that was built near Acton, California on the edge of the Mojave Desert, the cast and crew endured very hot conditions during the day and very cold temperatures at night. It was a difficult shoot for Campbell who had to learn elaborate choreography for the battle scenes, which involved him remembering a number system because the actor was often fighting opponents that weren't really there. Mesa remembers in John Kenneth Muir's book, The Unseen Forces: The Films of Sam Raimi, "Bruce was cussing and swearing some of the time because you had to work on the number system. Sam would tell us to make it as complicated and hard for Bruce as possible. 'Make him go through torture!' So we'd come up with these shots that were really, really difficult, and sometimes they would take thirty-seven takes."
After the shooting was completed, Army of Darkness' score was composed by Joseph LoDuca, although the theme was composed by Danny Elfman.
While Dino De Laurentiis gave Raimi and his crew freedom to shoot the movie the way they wanted, Universal Pictures took over during post-production. Universal was not happy with Raimi's cut because they did not like Raimi's original ending for the movie and felt that it was "depressing". So, a more upbeat ending was shot a month after Army of Darkness was made. It was shot in a lumber store in Malibu, California over three or four nights. Then, two months after Army of Darkness was finished, a round of re-shoots began in Santa Monica and involved Ash in the windmill and the scenes with Bridget Fonda done for very little money.
In addition, Raimi needed $3 million USD to finish his movie, but Universal wasn't willing to give him the money and delayed its release because they were upset that De Laurentiis would not give them the rights to the Hannibal Lecter character so that they could film a sequel to Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. The matter was finally resolved but Army of Darkness' release date had been pushed back from its original summer of 1992 release to February 1993.
Raimi ran into further troubles with the Motion Picture Association of America over the film's rating. The MPAA gave it an NC-17 rating for a shot of a female Deadite being decapitated early on in the film. Universal, however, wanted a PG-13 rating, so Raimi made a few cuts and was still stuck with the MPAA's R rating. In response, Universal turned the film over to outside film editors who cut Army of Darkness to 81 minutes in length and another version running 87 minutes that was eventually released in theaters. Eventually, Army of Darkness ended up with an R rating.
A Director's Cut exists in various DVD releases. Although not officially Sam Raimi's Director's Cut of the film, it is actually the International Cut of the film that was released around the world. It runs at 93 minutes compared to the theatrical 81 minutes, and includes numerous new scenes and extensions. Among the changes are more violence in the pit, a love scene between Ash and Sheila, an extended windmill scene, different dialogue between Good and Bad Ash, an extended speech on the castle roof, and a vastly different ending.
The theatrical release picks up after Ash has returned to the present, in which he stages one final confrontation with the "she-bitch" in the S-Mart Housewares Department. The alternate ending, which was favored by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, depicts Ash as he sits in his Oldsmobile in a cave, the entrance caved in by some of the black powder he made earlier. As he drinks the magic potion (given to him by a person that may or may not be Merlin - the king's name being "Arthur"), he is distracted by a falling rock and takes one drop too many. Ash sleeps well beyond his time, not aging but growing a very large beard, and shouts "I've slept too long!!" after awakening in a post-apocalyptic England.
When test audiences didn't approve of Raimi's original cut, he cut the film down to the International cut that now exists on DVD. When it was again rejected by Universal, Raimi was forced to edit it again to the U.S. Theatrical version. The original cut had an opening that was more in tune with the Evil Dead series (included as a deleted scene on Anchor Bay's Director's Cut DVD).
The MGM Hong Kong Region 3 DVD edits together the U.S. Theatrical, European, and Director's cuts into a final, 96-minute cut of the film. The film is digitally re-mastered, compiled from original source prints (not from VHS sources as the Anchor Bay Entertainment releases are).
Army of Darkness has had several comics adaptations made of it.
Army of Darkness (movie adaptation)
Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes
Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop
Darkman vs. Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator
Army of Darkness (continuation of vs. Re-Animator)
Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness
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