Both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's careers started taking off after "Evil Dead II." Raimi's "Deadman" was a commercial and critical hit, while Campbell found considerably more acting jobs, mainly in B-movies. In 1992, they reunited once more for the third and final (?) film in the "Evil Dead" series, "Army of Darkness."
"Evil Dead II" ended with Ash being sent back in time through a wormhole to the year 1300 AD along with the demons. This was actually envisioned to happen as a main plot point of the movie, but they couldn't manage it, so they just made it the ending. But it's the whole story of this movie, as Ash now has to defend medieval soldiers against a whole army of the dead.
I have to mention the opening; after a very brief recap by Ash of "Evil Dead II," he arrives in the past and is captured by Lord Arthur's (Marcus Gilbert) men and sent to his death...odd, considering the last movie ended with him killing a demon and being proclaimed a savior; I guess continuity was never entirely important to the filmmakers of this series.
Anyway, he is thrown into a pit to battle a demonic creature-now called a Deadite-and is able to kill it; now he's proclaimed a savior. Of course, he just wants to go home, but he has to find the Book of the Dead and recite the magic phrase - "Klaatu verata nicto"-which, of course, is a line from "The Day the Earth Stood Still." But when he finally finds the book, he forgets the third word; this causes the dead to rise from all the graves and march back to attack the castle; this includes Ash's own evil duplicate that came from a shattered mirror.
By now, there's no real horror; it's more of a medieval action comedy, with a lot of cartoon sound effects and slapstick humor. It's a little distracting, but the good news is that Ash is totally fleshed out as a character; he has a lot of personality and delivers a lot of classic lines; Campbell's charisma definitely shines here, in both of his roles. He also has a love interest named Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) who is taken over by the Deadites; I don't really care for her. She spends her first bit of screen time blaming Ash for killing her brother-quite irrationally, in my opinion; she can't even have known what happened. And I don't think we even know who her brother is, so why do we care?
Much like "Evil Dead II," the highlight is when Ash is off by himself...well, he and other versions of himself, but it's still great. The ending is a really awesome fight between the soldiers and the Deadites, which settles a feud between Arthur's men and Duke Henry's (Richard Grove) men. It's a lot of the same effects and cinematography we've seen in the first two movies, but it's still a lot of fun to watch.
"Army of Darkness" feels like a little bit of a sore thumb compared to the first two "Evil Dead" movies, but just a little sore. It's certainly entertaining, and it basically verifies Campbell's role in film history as an all-around bad-ass. Now is the series over? Both Raimi and Campbell have spoken of an upcoming "Army of Darkness 2," and then a merging of the original series with the remake series. I have no idea how much of this is true, but I'm really curious. For now, enjoy Raimi's trilogy; it's awesome.