A movie that only true horror buffs could love, Army of Darkness is officially part 3 in the wild and wacky Evil Dead trilogy masterminded by the perversely inventive director Sam Raimi, who would later serve as executive ... more »producer of the popular syndicated TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Raimi's favorite actor, Bruce Campbell, returns as Ash (hero of the first two Evil Dead flicks), a hardware-store clerk who is magically transported--along with his beat-up Oldsmobile and a chainsaw attachment for his severed left forearm--to the brutal battlefields of the 14th century. He quickly assumes power (who else in the Middle Ages packs a shotgun and a chainsaw?), and unites his band of medieval knights against the dreaded Army of the Dead. Raimi gleefully subverts almost every horror-movie cliché as he serves up a nonstop parade of blood, gore, and vicious sword-bearing skeletons--an affectionate homage to animator Ray Harryhausen's classic Jason and the Argonauts. The frantic action is fun while it lasts, but even at 80 minutes Army of Darkness nearly wears out its welcome. You know that Raimi can maintain the mayhem for only so long before it grows tiresome, and fortunately this madcap movie quits while it's ahead. --Jeff Shannon« less
Eric D. Musall | Indianapolis, IN USA | 07/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Confused by all the Army of Darkness DVD releases (some in print, some out of print, some lingering halfway between)? I know I was. But I've done some research and figured it out, and here's how it breaks down:
1. The original DVD release-- was the original theatrical version of the movie with few extras. Good picture, good sound, S-Mart ending. If you just want to watch the best available version of the movie, you might get this one (if you can still find it; it's out of print now). It also has the familiar movie poster cover with an overly muscled Bruce and the hokey "Low on gas" slogan.
2. The director's cut-- with the silly Molly Hatchet cover and the original ending. There are many minuses: key lines are changed (not necessarily for the better). Much of the footage looks really horrible, including the entire concluding battle. All the deleted scenes have the feel of an eBay-purchased bootleg. Bottom line: AOD fans will like to see the material, but this is hardly the movie's best presentation. It's still circulating but they're not making any more of them.
3. The special edition-- probably the best DVD release of the movie to date. The 2 disc version (which, like the director's cut, is nearing the end of its availability) is great. It features both the watchable theatrical version and the borderline-unwatchable director's cut. It has commentary, unlike every other release, although the commentary is only available when viewing the director's cut. It has a making-of featurette.
The single disc version (now the primary version of AOD available) is only a slight downgrade; basically, it's the theatrical release, lookin' and soundin' fine, with the original ending as an extra, and the making of featurette also included. (The commentary is sadly missing.)
In summary: You can't go wrong with the single disc special edition or the even better double disc special edition. Avoid the director's cut unless you already own the original DVD and just want to see all the new footage in all its grainy glory. The original DVD is a fine purchase if you just wanna watch the movie, already.
2009 edit: to clear up some confusion in comments on this review, I wrote this eight long years ago. "Army" probably has five new DVD editions since then, and I'm sorry to report that I don't care enough to keep buying and comparing them. My experience so far has been that they keep releasing new versions with little regard for what people really want. In my eyes, a definitive version would be:
1. The main feature would be the theatrical version, fully restored and anamorphic.
2. Deleted scenes and the alternate ending would be cleaned up and well-presented as extras - I know this is possible because I own an Australian DVD of the movie that has them looking a lot cleaner than I've seen on all the older American versions. It would be also great if they had a menu option to watch the theatrical cut with some of the deleted scenes added back in - in particular the longer (and more cohesive) windmill battle with the mini-Bruces should never have been trimmed down; I'd love to see that in full as part of the movie. There's a cut that plays on some TV channel (AMC maybe?) that includes this scene, but unfortunately other parts are changed to their detriment - not a great trade-off. I think most fans of the movie prefer the original version of the movie - the S-mart ending, the original one-liners, etc. - but don't mind seeing some additional scenes thrown in.
3. Commentary, making-of featurette, etc. all included. The track record of this stuff on previous releases has been very spotty.
4. And finally do it right - put this version (probably a 2 DVD set) in print and get rid of the other ones, and KEEP it in print. Fans are tired of re-buying this movie just to find out that it's the same damn thing with a line or scene changed... if that. Let's tie a neat bow on this thing and be done with it. I'm as big a fan as they come and I stopped buying the new DVDs a couple versions ago."
Great movie, but another SE DVD?
Linquel | Chicago, IL USA | 01/27/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"For the sake of clarity, I just want to say that there is no way I could review any version of Army of Darkness without giving it five stars. It is a modern classic which I can watch over and over again. Seeing the Tiny Evil Ashes take on Ash causes me to laugh out loud with every "My fair lady."Having said that, I can't imagine why they are releasing yet another SE DVD set of it. I own the 2-disc Limited Edition which came out a few years ago. I can't find anything different about this new "Boomstick Edition" that isn't on the old Limited Edition. Both have the original theatrical release and the director's cut with 15 additional minutes of footage. Both have the Men Behind The Army featurette. Both have the Raimi, Campbell, Raimi commentary. The only thing I've noticed so far is that the Boomstick edition comes with some kind of 10 page collectible book which my LE set didn't have. But unless they made some drastic changes to either the video or audio to clear up imperfections which I never noticed in the first place, I couldn't justify buying this new edition. But if you don't yet own Army of Darkness, don't be a primitive screwhead. Click on the Buy It Now link and get it."
def_ | Oklahoma, USA | 02/20/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"*THIS REVIEW IS IN REFERENCE TO THE NEW "BOOMSTICK EDITION" TWO DISK SET*Ok, if you're on this page, there's a good chance you've already seen this movie and are torn between purchasing another copy or not.If you already have the Bootleg Edition, or one of the many other editions of this film that have been released over the years, then you're probably going to feel jipped after you read this. Sorry.Anyways, what this DVD set basically includes is two previously released DVDs in one package. Those being the standard edition and the Bootleg edition. Which, if you're looking to upgrade from your old VHS copy or something, it's a really good deal. Since buying the two DVDs seperately would cost a lot more than just buying this package. For the person who already has an AOD DVD I wouldn't recommend, unless you really want the directors cut version of it since you'd probably end up with two copies of the same DVD. But if you're a hardcore fanatic and are feeling like shelling out the asking price for the nifty new 8 page collectors booklet. Go for it. That's what I'm buying it for. The fact that the "Bootleg" edition didn't come with the theatrical ending is also a reason I'm purchasing this DVD set.I give it five stars because...Well, it's a great film and though it may be a little late for a release like this, it's the thought that counts. Thanks Anchor Bay."
def_ | 10/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ok, for those who are wondering, this "bootleg" edition is simply the Director's Cut version without the Limited Edition numbers on it. Don't worry, it's not an illegal copy, more like an "Official Bootleg". It was done so that fans who missed out on the Limted Edition can still get the DVD and all the extra goodies. I for one am glad they did so because I happened to miss out on it myself. The cover is done as if someone made an illegal copie and used a brown paper back to cover up the liner. It has handwriting-like text on it in what appears to be a few notes from Bruce "Don't call me Ash" Campbell. The actual DVD inside is done up like a DVD-R (Not Really Recordable) and is very humorous. It contains the exact same movie and features of the LE in the exact same quality. The commentary from Sam, Bruce, and Ivan is hilarious as was their commentary from the other Evil Dead DVDs. That in combination with the deleted scenes and the original ending make this a must have for those who want the whole story. This is the version of the movie that was originally done before they were forced to shorten it to 81 minutes and alter the ending. So if you missed out on the Limited Edition DVD then this is for you. This is definatly one for the fans out there."
They don't get any better than this!
Mark Lahren | Bismarck, North Dakota USA | 12/05/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie is entertainment in its purest form. Brilliant in every aspect, with amazing attention to technical detail. The DVD Limited Edition in my opinion is well worth the extra money. It's quite easy to watch the director's cut, and then immediately watch it again with Raimi's and Campbell's commentary turned on. The behind-the-scenes comments are just about as entertaining as the movie itself. As to the movie, there is never a dull moment here. All action scenes are full of completely satisfying moments punctuated by sharp wit. Campbell plays his part with gusto, as does everyone else. Campbell is one of the most fun actors to watch that there is. I can't believe I have not seen this movie until 1998 on cable. Where was I when it was at the theaters? This is third in the 'Evil Dead' series, and I sincerely hope there will be a fourth!"