There’s nothing moviegoers love more than laughing after just having their pants scared off. The horror comedy has a long and prestigious history in cinema, starting with Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948 and going all the way up to this year’s Back to the Future/slasher movie mash-up Totally Killer. There is one movie, however, that stands above all others when it comes to blood-filled laughs, and that’s the one and only Army of Darkness.
Army Of Darkness Is The Greatest Horror Comedy Ever Made
The 1992 film revolves around the protagonist being transported back in time—a plot point Army of Darkness shares with contemporary horror comedy Totally Killer. But that’s where the similarities end. In Totally Killer, the main character, Jamie, gets transported to 1987. In Army of Darkness, Ash hurtles backward through time until he lands in the year 1300 A.D.—and believe us when we say he’s more than a little culture-shocked.
Did we say Ash? The Ash? You bet your sweet chainsaw we did! Horror fans will already know this, but for those not familiar with the genre, Army of Darkness is the third movie in the Evil Dead series. The studio wanted the horror comedy to stand on its own, so they insisted that the film not bear the title Evil Dead 3, despite being exactly that.
Bruce Campbell Created The Ash We Know And Love In Army Of Darkness
The character of Ashley J. Williams—played brilliantly by sentient chin Bruce Campbell—has become a horror icon up there with Freddy and Jason. Horror and comedy fans alike know Ash: the narcissistic doofus who just happens to excel at killing demons.
That version of Ash, the shotgun-toting, chainsaw-wielding smartass that countless video game heroes have been based on—Duke Nukem, we’re looking at you—was born in Army of Darkness. It was that horror comedy that gave us the Ash we know and love, the one that works at a department store and calls his shotgun a “boomstick.”
Army Of Darkness Paved The Way For More Horror Comedy Favorites
There is a whole archetype of horror comedy protagonist that sprang up from Bruce Campbell’s performance in Army of Darkness. Tucker and Dale from Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Jamie Foxx‘s Bud from last year’s vampire comedy Day Shift, none of these blue-collar, reluctant heroes would exist without Army of Darkness. Even Shaun, the protagonist of 2004’s Shaun of the Dead, the hapless loser who stumbles into his role as a zombie killer, owes a debt to Ash.
Army Of Darkness Is The Best Film In The Evil Dead Franchise
We assume that right around here is where any Evil Dead fans reading this are shouting at their phones, “But Evil Dead II is the GOAT!” We agree Evil Dead II is one of the best horror comedies ever made, but in terms of its impact on pop culture, not to mention pure quotability, Evil Dead II can’t hold a candle to Army of Darkness.
Evil Dead II loses points for being largely a re-hash of Evil Dead I but with a bigger budget—yes, we are well aware of the legal reasons behind this—and for presenting Ash as nothing more than a man driven crazy by the horrors thrust upon him.
Ash in Evil Dead II isn’t so much a character as he is a punching bag for the deadites—Evil Dead’s demonically possessed human antagonists. Army of Darkness Ash is also a punching bag for the deadites—Sam Raimi loves physically torturing his childhood friend—but now he says oneliners and walks around with an unearned cockey swagger between beatdowns.
Ash’s One Liners Make Army Of Darkness Even Better
Look, if you really want to know why Army of Darkness is the best horror comedy of all time—you know, aside from being super influential on the decades of video games and horror protagonists that have come around since the early ’90s—it’s very simple.
A guy walks around with a shotgun strapped to his back and a chainsaw for a hand and says things like, “Listen up, you primitive screwheads!” and “Hail to the king, baby!” while fighting stop-motion skeletons. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of a good time, then we’re sorry, but the first personality transplants won’t be available until at least 2030, so you’re stuck in wet blanket mode for another 15 years or so.
If, instead, you’re intrigued by what we’ve written, then do yourself a favor and seek out Army of Darkness, the best horror comedy of all time! You won’t be disappointed.