Tag Archives: Sam Raimi

Army of Darkness (1992) Review

Time: 81 Minutes
Age Rating: M – contains violence and offensive language
Bruce Campbell as Ashley “Ash” J. Williams and “Evil Ash”
Embeth Davidtz as Sheila
Director: Sam Raimi

Zombie-battling hero Ash takes on an army of skeletons after being sent back in time.

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My rewatch of the Evil Dead movies continues with its third instalment, Army of Darkness. This movie would be a jarring entry in the franchise considering that it takes quite a notable shift in tone and approach. However, it actually pulls it off quite well, better than expected.

Evil Dead II had to reshoot a recap of the events of the past movie because of rights issues, and funnily enough Army of Darkness has to do that too, albeit with it being much shorter and toned down. So hypothetically, you could just jump into Army of Darkness without any issues, but the first 2 Evil Dead movies are still worth checking out. While the second movie changed a little in the tone and approach from the first movie, becoming a horror comedy instead of a mostly straight faced horror, its third instalment takes an even bigger step. First of all, instead of it being set in a cabin in the woods, it is now in a medieval setting which happens to have deadites, following from Evil Dead II’s ending in which lead character Ash Williams was transported back in time. It is also a little more story focussed than the previous two movies, with it not being contained within a small location. Still, it doesn’t lack the distinct energy and creativity from the previous movies. The difference in tone is immediately noticeable. Army of Darkness is a PG-13 movie and it is a little jarring coming to that following the last two movies and lacking the usual blood and gore. The tone is far more comedic and lighter, which does have the consequence of making it feel a little disconnected from the last couple of films. It is also over the top and silly, and it leans further into the comedy and self awareness. It gets ridiculously goofy and campy, perhaps a bit too silly at points. However, on the whole it is a very well written movie, incredibly quotable and memorable, and most of the jokes work. The third act is also really entertaining, especially with the battle scenes. The endings are pretty interesting; there are two different cuts, Director’s and Theatrical, each with their own distinctly different ending. The Director’s Cut ending makes sense and is a good ending for an Evil Dead film, but I think the Theatrical Cut ending is the most tonally fitting for Army of Darkness, even if it only exists because people at test screenings found the original ending to be too dark.

Army of Darkness has a much larger cast compared to the last two Evil Dead movies, but again it mostly comes down to its lead star, Bruce Campbell. This is where his character of Ash Williams fully became the icon that he is today. Campbell elevates every scene he’s in, his comedic timing is on point, and he’s just fun to watch, whether he’s delivering one liners, or being put though the (PG-13 level) wringer. He’s at his most entertaining here, and I think this is one of the all-time best comedic performances in a movie.

Sam Raimi’s direction is strong once again, with the same creativity and vision you’ve come to expect from him. The camera movements are great, especially with the zooms and POV shots. The practical effects are generally good, especially with the makeup effects. There’s also some solid production design, and I liked the looks of the castles, skeletons and monsters. Even the effects that look dated today add some sort of charm.  

While I admit that I prefer the more horror focussed Evil Dead movies, Army of Darkness is still really fun to watch. It’s a campy, quotable and highly entertaining action comedy, helped by Sam Raimi’s direction and Bruce Campbell’s career defining performance as Ash Williams, and is an absolute blast to watch from beginning to end.


Evil Dead II (1987) Review

Time: 84 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Sarah Berry as Annie Knowby
Dan Hicks as Jake
Kassie Wesley as Bobby Joe
Richard Domeier as Professor Ed Getley
Director: Sam Raimi

The second of three films in the Evil Dead series is part horror, part comedy, with Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) once again battling horrifying demons at a secluded cabin in the woods. After discovering an audiotape left by a college professor that contains voices reading from the Book of the Dead, Ash’s girlfriend Linda (Denise Bixler) becomes possessed by evil spirits that are awakened by the voices on the tape. Ash soon discovers there is no escaping the woods.

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With the latest film in the franchise releasing relatively soon, I decided to rewatch the previous Evil Dead movies in the lead up to it. The Evil Dead released back in 1981 ended up being something of a low budget horror classic, especially with the creative direction and impressive practical effects despite the budget constraints. 6 years later, director Sam Raimi directed a sequel which many have regarded as the best of the franchise, myself included.

The opening 10 minutes might confuse people who recently watched the previous film. While Evil Dead II is indeed a sequel to the original, Raimi didn’t really own the rights to his original film and so couldn’t use any of the previous footage from The Evil Dead. So he reshot his own recap of the first movie and due to constraints, they opted to only feature lead character Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) and his girlfriend Linda instead of all 5 characters in the original movie. While you could very well just jump into Evil Dead II completely blind, I’d still recommend watching the original. The plot is very similar to the first movie; Ash is still at the cabin dealing with the undead, and you could say that it’s just a rehash of Evil Dead but with a bigger budget. However, it works better for me in just about every way, and I found it to be really entertaining. The first Evil Dead was a crazy movie and had some over the top moments which bordered on hilarity especially with the blood and gore, but on the whole it was straight faced horror movie aiming to be intense and scary. Its sequel however opts to play more as a horror comedy, and delivers on both aspects. The issues of the first movie are conquered by the more absurd approach in its sequel, as is self aware and embraces the silliness. Horror comedies are pretty hard to pull off, but Raimi delivers on that. The dark and slapstick humour is pretty much pitch perfect and makes the movie so much fun to watch. I liked the first movie, but it does take its time to escalate to craziness, even though I do appreciate that. Evil Dead II takes the deranged insanity of the original’s last 30 minutes and sustains it for the entire runtime of the movie. It is a far more exciting movie and is absolute madness from beginning to end. It also concludes with an insane ending, which would lead into the third entry of the Evil Dead franchise, Army of Darkness.

Bruce Campbell gave a decent and commendable horror performance in the first Evil Dead. However, he gets taken to a whole other level in the sequel, and it would be the start of his character of Ash Williams becoming a pop culture icon, who would become fully realised in Army of Darkness. On top of Campbell’s acting just being better, Ash isn’t only a normal guy put through the wringer, but is also pushed to far beyond insanity. His performance is completely manic and unhinged, to the point where he resembles a cartoon character. Bruce Campbell chews the scenary delightfully and also has a likable charm to him, and he especially delivers on the physical comedy. The supporting cast aren’t particularly huge, but the acting was at least a little better than the cast of the first movie.

Sam Raimi returned to make a sequel to the 1981 original and this time he is working with a considerably larger budget. However it doesn’t lose the creative vision behind the first movie, if anything Raimi’s style is more fully realised here and his direction is fully confident. At its heart, it is still a low budget horror that takes advantage of the increased production value. There’s a lot of creative and unique choices and familiar trademarks, from the use of stop motion, snap zooms and POV shots. It’s a better looking movie, from the cinematography to the production design. They also again use some practical makeup and effects from the deadites to the violence and gore, which still look rather impressive and hold up well today.

Evil Dead II is not only an improvement over the first movie in just about every way, but also horror classic in its own right. It is a very fun and absurdly over the top horror, made excellent by Sam Raimi’s still creative but more refined direction and style, and an incredibly entertaining lead performance from Bruce Campbell.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022) Review


Doctor Stranger in the Multiverse of Madness

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Stephen Strange
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo
Benedict Wong as Wong
Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez
Michael Stuhlbarg as Nicodemus West
Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer
Director: Sam Raimi

Dr Stephen Strange casts a forbidden spell that opens a portal to the multiverse. However, a threat emerges that may be too big for his team to handle.

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Out of the upcoming MCU movies, I was looking forward to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness the most. I liked the first Doctor Strange movie and with the addition of Wanda/Scarlet Witch for the sequel and more of a horror focus, I was interested. Admittedly, I did have some hesitations going into it. With the concept of the multiverse being present, there was a chance it would just be mostly cameos, I had a feeling that the MCU would take the wrong lessons from Spider-Man: No Way Home for the movies going forward with regard to cameos. Also at the last moment, director Scott Derrickson who made the first film left the movie, thankfully his replacement was Sam Raimi, which I found exciting. While there are certainly some issues, I quite liked Multiverse of Madness.


I will say that first of all, if you haven’t watched the WandaVision show, you might lose a lot of the context. Doctor Strange 2 is very much a continuation from WandaVision and where Wanda’s story left off; so if you can, watch it beforehand. For all the strengths of the movie, unfortunately, I think that the writing is the biggest issue; some of it works, some of it doesn’t. Despite the unique direction and style, you can definitely tell that it’s an MCU flick from the writing alone, and it doesn’t break the formula at all. The issues aren’t restricted to formula, however. Much of the movie feels underdeveloped, with some portions of the script feeling like its rushed and missing stuff. It is fast paced but not necessarily in a good way. Some of that has to do with the runtime, with it being 2 hours, surprisingly short for an MCU movie. If anything, I think it is a bit too short, there’s some plotlines, sections and characters which would’ve benefitted from more focus and attention. As it is, the runtime doesn’t allow time for some plot points to be fully explored. That’s not to say that there’s nothing going on with the characters, but the story just didn’t succeed at connecting emotionally. With that being said, the story is refreshingly straightforward and contained for the most part, and it didn’t allow itself to feel too overstuffed. Like with many of the MCU movies, it also has the same issue with the out of place and annoying humour. Not that all of the jokes are bad, but I wish there was less of it. Like some of the other movies which use the multiverse (including the MCU), MoM doesn’t quite take advantage of that aspect. Multiverse of Madness is a bit of a misleading title, the multiverse definitely play a role but doesn’t utilise it much and set it up to be bigger than it was. Once again though, I am glad that the story is kept self-contained. There is a section that contains some cameos, and it is by far the worst section of the movie, even if I liked it. With that said, I really appreciate that they kept these cameos within this segment instead of stretched throughout the whole movie. Also, I appreciated the way they ended this cameo section, that’s what ultimately made it worth it for me. The third act gets wonderfully crazy, though I will say that the actual ending is a bit abrupt.


Benedict Cumberbatch plays his role of Doctor Strange in his sixth appearance, and once again is really good. The question of Strange’s happiness is a reoccurring theme and we see how things have taken a toll on him. I do like his storyline, but I feel like he constantly kept being pushed into the background. I especially like how he portrays the different versions of Strange. The MVP and driving force of the movie is Elizabeth Olsen in her best performance yet as Wanda/Scarlet Witch. As one of the MCU’s strongest, interesting and tragic characters, Olsen does great work here, practically a co-lead alongside Cumberbatch. Definitely one of the best performances in the MCU so far. There’s also the debut of a new character America Chavez, played by Xochitl Gomez. Gomez is quite good in the role and will no doubt play a bigger role in other movies going forward, but ended up being more of a plot device in this film. Benedict Wong is once again great as fan favourite Wong, this time as the Sorcerer Supreme. Chiwetel Ejiofor reprises his role as Mordo and is good in his part, but has limited screentime. Rachel McAdams also returns as Christine Palmer and considering her smaller role in the first movie, they surprisingly found a way to get her involved with the plot more in the sequel, and gets to do a lot more here. The writing for the main villain is unfortunately a bit one note and needed more nuance and development, but the performance helped it work. As for the cameos, they definitely felt out of place and their section was the worst but for the most part, I liked the characters and their performances. The exception is one actor, whose casting and performance left much to be desired.


This is Sam Raimi’s first movie in 9 years, that alone made Doctor Strange in MOM exciting to watch. His direction is one of the highlights of the movie. There are a lot of talented directors who work on MCU movies where their style and vision are muffled and you can barely see it. While I wouldn’t call Multiverse of Madness a full-on Raimi film, his distinct style does shine through. There’s plenty of creativity throughout and it is definitely one of the most director influenced films in the MCU in quite some time. Many of his trademarks are on display. The camera movements are inventive and dynamic, and it allows for some crazy visuals. The editing is also fantastic, with some particularly great transitions. It is also one of the most violent movies in the MCU, if not the most. One of the most surprising parts of the movie were the horror elements, I wasn’t expecting to see moments reminiscent of the Evil Dead movies. There’s particularly a chase scene in the middle section of the movie which is straight out of a horror movie. That being said, I wouldn’t say that this is a Raimi movie first and foremost, it’s still very much within the MCU style. The worst thing I can say about his style here, aside from it not being fully Raimi, is that it is at odds with the writing. The action sequences are for the most part great and are entertaining to watch. The visual effects in the first Doctor Strange were some of the best in the MCU and that’s the case with the sequel too, with some good CGI. The score is composed by Danny Elfman, and while the prospect of him teaming up with Raimi sounded good, the score is nothing special and at about the same level as Michael Giaacchino’s score in the first movie. With that said, Elfman occasionally gets moments to shine through, including the use of electric guitars.


Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is not without its issues, mainly with the script. With that said there’s a lot of other good aspects with the the solid performances (with Elizabeth Olsen being the MVP), and most of all the outstanding direction from Sam Raimi, giving the movie a distinct flavour and creativity not seen in most of the MCU. Additionally, the horror elements are a welcome addition. While I know that not everyone will love it, based off my first viewing, I liked it more than most movies in the MCU.

The Evil Dead (1981) Review

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence
Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl Williams
Hal Delrich as Scott
Betsy Baker as Linda
Sarah York as Shelly
Director: Sam Raimi

Ashley “Ash” Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend and three pals hike into the woods to a cabin for a fun night away. There they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the evil dead. Ash watches his friends become possessed, and must make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life in this, the first of Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

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The Evil Dead made a massive impact upon its release, despite its low budget. It would go on to spawn two successful sequels, a tv series that would run for 3 seasons and a remake in 2013 (which is actually pretty good as well). The story itself is simple and some of the technical aspects are dated but for the most part it really does hold up well.

The Evil Dead is very straightforward. People go to a cabin in the woods, they unleash the living dead, chaos and hilarity ensues. Storywise there isn’t really much to say about The Evil Dead and it does fall into some of the horror tropes such as people doing something really dangerous (such as unleashing the living dead upon themselves). Unlike the rest of the series which got more cartoonish and humorous as they went on, most of the movie is pretty dark and serious in comparison. Maybe there might be some slapstick violence and an unbelievable amount of blood thrown all over people, but outside of that there isn’t much humour as you’d think given the series’ reputation (although there is some dark comedy in there as well). However, it is just as crazed, insane and unpredictable as the rest of the series, with it doing to places and showing things on screen that you wouldn’t expect. The Evil Dead is just under 90 minutes long and that was pretty much the best length for it, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

The actors weren’t anything special, neither were the characters, the characters are rather simple and generic horror characters. The acting is kind of weak, a little bad sometimes, though it’s not a huge weight on the movie. Bruce Campbell is the lead here as Ash Williams and he’s actually pretty good. He’s not at all the Ash we all know and love (with the chainsaw on his hand and the boomstick in the other), here he’s just a normal guy and he does well reacting and changing to everything that he sees and experiences throughout the movie.

Sam Rami’s direction is the reason why this movie really works as well as it does. This movie has a really low budget for a horror movie at $350-400K, and you can feel that throughout. With that however, Rami used some very creative techniques to achieve what he set out to do, and the results are rather impressive. The practical effects and makeup really work and a lot of them are still impressive today. Some of them look dated now but considering the budget and the time, you can look past that easily. The use of camera movements (especially the famous POV shots from an unseen demon force) are creative and are memorable, even if some of them are done for budget reasons. It is a very bloody and gory movie, if you don’t like that kind of movie, you probably won’t be staying with this movie for very long. There is blood absolutely everywhere and it goes everywhere. There are also some genuinely unnerving scenes. I didn’t personally find the movie scary but I will say that generally you’re more likely to be disturbed than scared. That tree scene for example is still very hard to watch.

The Evil Dead is a very effective horror movie that still is a classic today. Yes it is cheesy and dated at times but that’s to be expected from a horror movies from the early 80s. Ultimately its Sam Raimi’s direction that makes such a familiar horror concept (even in 1981) and a really low budget work so well. All the practical effects are impressive even to this day and its one thrilling and slightly disturbing horror movie. The Evil Dead ever since its release has established itself as one of the most iconic and important horror films of all time.