Saturday, September 21, 2013


Today the news came across the net that Sam Raimi was working on an "Army of Darkness" sequel.  The exact quote was:

"The pressure is on them now. Because as far as I know, and heard, Sam is really determined to get Army Of Darkness 2 happening. He is actually writing [it now]."

Which is a far cry from the previous twenty years of "Sam and his brother are sort of, maybe, working on an Army of Darkness sequel."

"Army of Darkness" is one of those movies that splits not only its own fanbase, but those non-Evil Dead fans that have seen it have a "love it or hate it" attitude regarding the movie.  Some of the (original) "Evil Dead" fans felt that AOD was too divergent in tone from the original "Evil Dead" movies, and too lighthearted, and lacking in the overall horror that the original two films contained.  This was done on purpose by director/creator Sam Raimi, as he and those involved in the production of "Evil Dead 3" wanted to have some fun, and try something different, as they had already done the same horror movie twice in a row.

AOD just barely made back its $11.5 million dollar budget upon its release in 1993, this was due in part that it was originally supposed to come out in summer of 1992, or at the latest, fall (Halloween) of 1992.  Unfortunately, there was a dispute between Universal Pictures and the exec. producer of AOD, Dino De Laurentis over the rights of "Hannibal," so AOD got dumped in what is the traditional movie graveyard that is known as February.  February is where movies go to die.  (**COUGH, "Robocop Reboot"**)

However, in the past twenty years AOD has developed a very large cult following, and arguably produced more versions of the movie on home video than any other movie, with over twenty different versions of of the movie floating out there, including a Hong Kong Director's cut that runs 96 min.  DVDACTIVE has a nice breakdown of the different versions on dvd, but there are even many more versions than they list on the site, including the new Blu-Ray versions.


AOD star, Bruce Campbell has been getting asked the same question day after day, year after year, "Are you making a sequel to 'Army of Darkness?"  Often Bruce would be told about a sequel by an audience member at a convention, and Bruce would ask, "Where did you hear that rumor?" where the audience member would respond, "The internet," upon which Bruce would hilariously chastise the person for not believing everything he reads on the internet.  One of the big reasons for this "tough love," was that up till the successful reboot of "Evil Dead," the chances of an AOD sequel have always been next to zero.

One of the reasons a sequel to AOD has been on the ropes can best be summed up via a quote from Bruce Campbell a few years back when (once again) queried about the sequel to AOD, "Would you really want an AOD sequel?  Come on, how are you going to top the original?"  Campbell did have a point.  But also there was the lingering fact that the original AOD did poorly at the box office twenty years ago.

BUT, that was twenty years ago, and a lot has changed since AOD was released.

First off, Sam Raimi has gone from indie darling director to the AAA list; an unexpected outcome for a guy who directed a movie where a woman gets raped by a tree, and also where a guy chops off his hand and installs a chainsaw in its place.  Of course, Raimi finally made his mark via the very successful "Spiderman" franchise, and has gone onto direct even family movies like "Oz the great and Powerful."

Ironically, it is probably (in part) because he directed "Oz" that an AOD sequel is now a possibility.  Why you ask?  Because "Oz" and AOD are the same movie!

The old adage in Hollywood has been, "Give me the same, only different."  Now with Raimi's clout, and the parallel success of the (Ash-less) "Evil Dead" reboot, AND that "Oz" was essentially AOD, Raimi can scrape together a budget from somewhere and make a sequel to AOD under the guise of, "Hey, we just made AOD again with "Oz," and it made $500,000,000!  BUT, in truth, any AOD sequel won't really be a sequel of to AOD, as AOD was only a loose sequel to The Evil Dead to begin with.

This is where the alternate ending to AOD comes into play. The original ending to AOD had its hero Ash wake up in post apocalyptic London in the far future; he had taken one too many drops of the magical elixir and slept too long.

This alternative (original) ending was scrapped for the S-mart 'happy' ending.  This opens up the idea that perhaps the S-mart ending was just a dream, and Ash wakes up in the far future. In March 2013, in EMPIRE magazine, Bruce Campbell offered his thoughts on what Raimi might be cooking up for an AOD sequel:

 "It's random ideas in Sam's head. Let's not go crazy here. He's just finished doing Oz, and he's going to take some time off and he says he's going to work on it this summer with his brother. He could be smoking cigars at a lakeside cabin for all I know, or he might actually be working, who knows?  I would think the post-Apocalyptic because it gives great possibilities for an Omega Man movie, and who he might be fighting against," he says. "It would be a very interesting world. But I'm fine either way. I'm sure Sam will concoct some ridiculous story and an outrageous journey, so I don't really care where it starts and ends."

 However, at the "Mad Monster Party Gras." convention in New Orleans last week, Bruce Campbell when queried about Army of Darkness, and which ending he preferred, had this to say:

"Now the cool thing was that the original sequel to that was Ash was going to lead an army of machines to take over the robots; leading like Spartacus."  

Bruce Campbell at Mad Monster Party Gras on Sept. 14, 2013

Original Video - More videos at TinyPic

 Perhaps Campbell meant to say Ash was going to lead an army of machines to fight against the deadites of the future, instead of robots, as robots are machines.  I don't know, but it does fit the possibilities and logic for a sequel to AOD.  They already did Ash in the present (Evil Dead). Ash in the past, (AOD). And now they could do "Ash vs. The Army of Machines."  Ash fighting robots is just as cool as him fighting the dead.

It would be very interesting to see if Raimi can get an AOD sequel off the ground.  The great thing is that them movie has garnered twenty years of goodwill and home video sales and a huge cult following.  Also, Bruce Campbell is has gone from a B-movie star to a B+ movie star and has racked up seven years on "Burn Notice," so he's no longer just "that dude from that movie."

A similar success story can be seen in the sequel to "Tron."  "Tron: Legacy," picked up thirty years after the original movie which only did okay at the box office to begin with.  However, ironically, the original "Tron" despite its cult and mainstream following, was looked upon as a pariah by Disney execs who decided to "Derezz" the original Tron just months prior to the release of Legacy.  Apparently with  the millennials, the original Tron was not viewed with the same endearment as was the case with Generation X, and Disney made Tron vanish till after the movie was released; only releasing the eagerly anticipated Blu-Ray months after the release of "Legacy."

Fortunately, AOD plays well with just about everyone these days.  Everyone from Gen X/Y/Z to the Baby Boomers still love Ash and his BOOM STICK! :)

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