The Conversation

Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness are Not Scary, They Are 3 Stooges Comedies With Some Silly Bright Green "Blood"

In response to Did someone say Bruce Campbell?:

The first Evil Dead was an attempt at horror.  The second one was a straight-up remake (yes, a remake within like five years), but done as a hysterical comedy.  While there is a lot of "gore," much of that gore is so gonzo-silly it has little impact as gore-- it has impact as deranged parody.

Indeed, just to make sure you're not that bothered by blood, Raimi begins using all sorts of oddly colored fluids as "blood," including a bright green color that looks like The Joker's mouthwash.  The film is occasionally bloody, but more frequently, it's merely wet. 

Army of Darkness, the time-traveling sequel (yes, Ash travels in time) is in the green vein of Evil Dead 2, but even less of a horror film, because it's not even in the genre of horror:  It's a time-traveling action-comedy/fantasy Sword & Sorcery/ "war" movie that contains some light "horror" trappings, such as an army of skeletons and a pit containing a demonic ghoul. Its influences aren't horror movies, but Ray Harryhausen stop-motion fantasies like The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, Heavy Metal magazine, and of course, again, the Three Stooges.

 Evil Dead 2 is one of the most famous and beloved of all "Guy's Movies" ever made.  Army of Darkness is similarly beloved, though not quite as good for two reasons:

1, gonzo premise aside, it's just not as coherent or strong a picture as Evil Dead 2

2, you can't be surprised twice.  What was arresting about Evil Dead 2, for "virgins" seeing it the first time, is that they literally have no idea how they're suppose to react to the film.  Are they serious with this?  But a half hour in they realize the answer is No, they're not serious about this, and begin laughing.

Army of Darkness actually has some of the most famous Ash lines, and some of the best ones, but by the time he delivers them in this film, we're alert to what Raimi & Campbell are doing, so while his lines are better and funnier, they can't actually surprise the audience they way Ash's "Groovy!" did in Evil Dead 2.

I would strongly recommend both, especially to a Raimi and Campbell fan, and say that neither film is "scary."  Oh, Evil Dead 2 is kind of scary, despite the Stooges comedy, here and there.  But the scariness feels very much like what it is, a contractual obligation required to get the film financed.  The actual heart of the film is increasingly ridiculous comedy.

 

 

Although, I guess I should note, the reaction of "horror" is not terribly different from the reaction of laughter, as this scene demonstrates. Yes, it's silly and broad and funny. It's also pretty creepy. You'd think "horror" and comedy would be polar opposites, but in fact the biological and psychological reactions marking them are sort of right next to each other in the brain.


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