Army of Darkness

Before Sam Raimi started the Spider-Man franchise, before Peter Jackson’s LOTR trilogy, there were the marching skeletons and new-risen dead threatening humanity in Army of Darkness. The 1993 picture capped Raimi’s Evil Dead series with its signature mixture of humor and horror, gymnastic witches, flagrant historical inaccuracies, and a very irreverent Bruce Campbell. Handy with a shotgun or one-liner, sporting a chainsaw where his right hand should be, Campbell’s S-Mart clerk manages to offend nearly everyone—alive or dead—in a medieval England that looks suspiciously like Pasadena. Raimi barely touches the brakes to explain how Campbell and his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 have been transported back in time. Story logic matters less than action and Three Stooges-style slapstick. Seeking to recapture a spell-book that will somehow return the dead to their proper place, Campbell exudes a goofy gusto and iron-jawed charisma. He’s a B-list Indiana Jones cheerfully winging it with fake, expansive bravado. He and Raimi rewrite medieval history as every bored 12-year-old schoolboy wished it could be. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., Jan. 1, 11:59 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 2, 11:59 p.m., 2010

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