There are better films than Army of Darkness. Hell, there are better Evil Dead films than Army of Darkness (ahem, Evil Dead II is clearly the best in the franchise). There are more important films than Army of Darkness (just ask any film school professor). There are probably even more fun movies than Army of Darkness. But I am not at all sure there are any geekier films than Army of Darkness, and that makes the movie perfect and indispensable in its own special way.
If, somehow, you aren't familiar with the film or its predecessors, they tell the story of Ash, a luckless doofus who keeps managing to stumble into trouble centered on the Necronomicon, an ancient book with the power to raise the dead, summon demons and do other dark occult things that make it a poor choice for before-bed reading. He loses a couple girlfriends, a handful of acquaintances and bystanders and, oh yeah, one of his hands thanks to it over the course of the first two Evil Dead films, and in Army of Darkness he gets thrown back into medieval times and has to fight of an entire army of Deadites (demon-spawned zombies, more or less).
So what makes Army of Darkness so damn geek friendly? I'm glad you asked!
First, this is one of the most quotable movies ever made. Geeks love quoting their favorite movies, and this one is basically all quotes, all the time. "All right, you primitive screwheads, listen up! This ... is my boomstick!" "GImme some sugar, baby." "Good. Bad. I'm the guy with the gun." And of course, the simplest, most basic and most perfect quote of them all: "Groovy." There are too many fantastic lines to count, and everyone has a different favorite (or five). Don't believe me? Search for "best Army of Darkness quotes" and see how many different lines are included in the myriad videos that you find. Not every line of dialogue is a great quote, but honestly, most of them are. This is the kind of movie you can watch a dozen times and never get tired of, if only because it's helping you master your favorite lines, and there's not much geekier than that.
Second, Bruce Campbell. Campbell is a goddamn geek icon, and for good reason. He's starred in more cult movies and TV series than most geeks have even seen, and he's been awesome in basically every goddamn one of them. It was the Evil Dead films that gave him his first break, and he's at the peak of his powers in this one -- young, handsome and so goddamn charismatic it should be a crime. Women want him. Men want to be him. Hell, men want him, too. He's awesome, and if you ever wondered, "So what's the deal with Bruce Campbell," well, this movie will explain it all to you. Hail to the king, indeed.
Finally, the movie is just so damn much fun. The original Evil Dead is a better, more pure horror movie. The franchise-best Evil Dead II is simultaneously scarier, funnier and better made overall than Army of Darkness. And yet Army of Darkness is the most fun. It departs from horror and ventures deep into cheesy action movie territory, while throwing in a goodly amount of old-school Sunday matinee spectacle. It works like a play-it-straight parody of '80s action movie cheese spiked with a healthy dose of Jason and the Argonauts-style epic, all delivered with Sam Raimi's signature splatsick approach. That's a recipe for pure geeky awesomeness, and if you can find something geekier than that, well... please tip me off. I'm sure I'll absolutely love it.
See Army of Darkness at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 7 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $10, or $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and more information, visit the Army of Darkness event page of the Denver Film Society website.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.