Friday, 20th October 2017. 3:50:23pm ET
Reviews Movie Reviews Army of Darkness (Boomstick Edition)
Movie: Army of Darkness (Boomstick Edition)
Company: Anchor Bay
Format: DVD
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 2/21/04

Well, here it is. After somewhere around a zillion (give or take half a dozen) reissues of Army of Darkness, the fine folks at Anchor Bay have finally given us a definitive double-DVD edition with all the necessary bells and whistles (and a little booklet of liner notes written by Bruce Campbell thrown in for good measure). For all three of you that have never seen or at least heard of Army of Darkness, it's the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy (originally titled either "Evil Dead 3" or "The Medieval Dead" until the stupid studio made them change it to give the impression that it's more of a standalone film). Starting with a recap of Evil Dead 2 (that slightly alters the events from the very end of Evil Dead 2 in the same way that Evil Dead 2 confused audiences by altering the events from Evil Dead 1), the film takes on more of an adventure vibe than a continuation of the more straightforward horror found in the first two films. The infamous Bruce Campbell, albeit a bit older, returns as Ash, now peculiarly transformed from a nice but cowardly good guy to a wise-cracking, cocky, selfish hero known for tossing out memorable one-liners. Trapped in the medieval age, whose inhabitants are besieged by the undead, Ash sets out on a series of hilarious horror misadventures while paying tribute to The Three Stooges with slapstick antics in a quest to retrieve the infamous Necronomicon and return to his own time.

The first DVD in the set contains the US theatrical cut of the film, clocking in at a measly yet easily digestible 81 minutes. This version is most notable for its "S-Mart" ending, an entertaining ending that the studio forced on them after rejecting the original "post-apocalyptic" ending, although the original ending is found here presented separately. You'll also find an entertaining and somewhat informative behind-the-scenes documentary and biographical info on Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.

The second disc contains the director's cut of the film, which was actually released as the theatrical version in some parts of the world. Featuring the original "post-apocalyptic" ending and 15 minutes of additional footage, the director's cut has some great extended windmill and little Ash scenes, although it does drag on to the point of tedium during the battle scenes at the end. It's also lacking a classic one-liner or two present in the US theatrical version. Special features include an entertaining (as always) commentary with Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Ivan Raimi (who shows up somewhere around halfway through the commentary). You can also watch the film with storyboards included and see 4 great deleted scenes, including the original opening and even more extended windmill footage that has the most Evil Dead-esque vibe of anything on the disc and really should have been included in the film.

As for technical specifications, the US theatrical version is presented in both widescreen and full-frame formats while the directors' cut is only presented in widescreen format. Both are enhanced for 16x9 TVs. The image and sound transfers are about the best you'll find for Army of Darkness, although the added footage in the director's cut is noticeably lower in quality.

In the end, many Evil Dead and Army of Darkness fans probably have everything here, albeit spread out over 2 or 3 DVD and/or VHS issues of the film. For anyone who doesn't, it's all here in one great definitive package. If you're a fan of the film that doesn't have all of the previous DVD releases, it's certainly worth picking this one up for the additional footage and amusing and informative commentary track.


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