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“Army of Darkness’ Multiple Cuts Explained”

Army of Darkness, Sam Raimi’s third entry in his Evil Dead trilogy, comes in multiple flavors, each containing a different take on the horror/comedy. On the surface, an uninitiated viewer could be forgiven for not realizing Army of Darkness is even part of the Evil Dead franchise. It’s the only entry into it without the words Evil Dead in the title, and thematically, bears very little resemblance to its predecessors. While technically a horror/comedy, Army of Darkness tilts way more toward comedy than horror.

Despite these differences, most fans of the first two Evil Dead movies still tend to love Army of Darkness, thanks in large part to the iconic work of Bruce Campbell in his third outing as Ash Williams. Now fully formed as a character, Ash is at his loudmouth braggart who also happens to be great at slaying demons best, and it’s clear this rendition is what Ash’s characterization in the Ash vs. Evil Dead series was based on.

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However, there isn’t just one way to experience the fun and excitement of Army of Darkness. There are no less than four different cuts of Raimi’s film, all with their own pros and cons.

The best known and most widely seen cut of Army of Darkness is naturally the 81-minute theatrical cut. This cut features all of Ash’s classic lines, including “Good, bad, I’m the guy with the gun,” and “Hail to the king, baby”, as well as Ash’s triumphant ending slaying demons at S-Mart in the present. However, Sam Raimi’s preferred cut is his 96-minute director’s cut, which alters quite a few scenes, adds entire new ones, replaces or removes several Ash one-liners, and sports an entirely different alternate ending in which Ash takes too much of the sleeping potion and wakes up in an apocalyptic future. This ending was echoed by the ending of the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series, although sadly, no follow-up is forthcoming.

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But wait, there’s more! Army of Darkness’ 88-minute international cut was released to cinemas outside the U.S., and assembled by producer Dino De Laurentiis. It includes quite a bit of material from Raimi’s director’s cut, but also cuts a lot, and includes the S-Mart ending from the theatrical version. It’s sort of a middle ground between the director’s cut, which even Raimi and Campbell concedes is probably a little too long, and the more streamlined theatrical cut. Finally, Army of Darkness’ 90-minute television cut – as expected – edits lots of scenes for content, also sometimes using alternate takes, and extending other scenes. Also, to better fill a 2-hour TV timeslot – with commercials – the TV cut adds in several deleted scenes to pad the running time. It’s a worthwhile curiosity for fans, but definitely the least of the cuts due to the language and violence edits.

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