On February 19, 1993, Army of Darkness—the third installment in Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell's Evil Dead franchise—made its way into U.S. theaters. You probably know all about Ash’s boomstick, but on the occasion of the hilarious horror comedy's 25th anniversary, it's worth a closer look.
1. ARMY OF DARKNESS ISN'T THE ENTIRE TITLE.
The film’s title is stylized onscreen as Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness. This phrasing was Sam Raimi’s homage to the defunct Hollywood tradition of putting stars’ names in movie titles (like Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein)—but the studio feared the long title would confuse moviegoers, so it was shortened for official purposes to just Army of Darkness.
2. EVEN THE SHORTER TITLE WASN'T RAIMI'S FIRST CHOICE.
Army of Darkness is the third installment of the Evil Dead series and the first to take place during the Middle Ages. Raimi’s original title for Army of Darkness was The Medieval Dead.
3. BRIDGET FONDA FINALLY GOT TO WORK WITH RAIMI.
Bridget Fonda makes a cameoas Ash’s girlfriend Linda during the beginning flashback sequence. She is the third actress in three films to play Linda (following actresses Betsy Baker and Denise Bixler). Fonda—a huge Evil Dead II fan—had originally auditioned to be in Raimi’s previous film, Darkman, but didn’t get the part.
4. ASH'S CAR HAD A LOT OF SCREEN EXPERIENCE.
The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 allegedly appears in all of Sam Raimi’s films.
5. DARKMAN MADE ARMY OF DARKNESS POSSIBLE.
Raimi wanted to make Army of Darkness immediately following 1987’s Evil Dead II, but he struggled to find funding to finish his trilogy. The financial success of Raimi’s 1990 film, Darkman, eventually convinced Universal Studios to split the $12 million budget with executive producer Dino De Laurentiis.
6. A SUBTLE SCIENCE FICTION REFERENCE PLAYS A KEY ROLE.
The words Ash must utter to safely retrieve the Necronomicon (“Klaatu verata nikto”) are actually a variation on a phrase from the original version of The Day the Earth Stood Still. In that film, “Klaatu barada nitko” is the phrase one must say to stop the robot Gort from destroying Earth.
7. THE SKELETON DEADITES WERE AN HOMAGE.
Their design is a tribute to visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen.
8. THE STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN MAKES AN APPEARANCE.
Billy Bryan, the actor who portrays the second monster in the medieval pit, also portrayed the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.
9. SAM RAIMI'S BROTHER WORE A LOT OF HATS.
Ted Raimi—who makes cameos in all of his brother’s films—appears as three different background characters in Army of Darkness. He is first seen as a sympathetic villager, then as a dying soldier during the final battle, and, finally, as an S-Mart employee in the last scene.
10. RAIMI HAD TO FIGHT FOR AN R-RATING.
In keeping with the gory first two films in the series, Army of Darkness received an NC-17 rating from the MPAA. It was subsequently bumped down to an R rating after the filmmakers pointed out that the ostensible gore in the film was happening to skeletons.
11. PLAYING EVIL ASH WAS TOUGH FOR CAMPBELL.
It took makeup artists three hours to get Campbell ready for shooting.
12. RAIMI STORYBOARDED EVERY SINGLE SHOT IN THE MOVIE HIMSELF.
About 25 shots in the final battle are taken from storyboards originally used in the 1948 Victor Fleming film Joan of Arc, which were brought to Raimi’s attention by visual effects supervisor William Mesa. Mesa got them from a friend, who got them from Fleming himself.
13. THERE'S AN EASTER EGG FOR TREKKIES.
Star Trek fans will recognize the location where Ash learns the “Klaatu verata nikto” incantation. The scene was shot at the iconic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, where the famous “Arena” episode from Star Trek was also shot. The movie also shot in the Bronson Canyon area of Griffith Park in Los Angeles that served as the Batcave for the 1960s Batman television show.
14. THE STUDIO CHANGED THE ENDING.
The original conclusion of the film—which Universal Studios deemed too negative—featured Ash taking too much potion to get back to the present day and waking up in a future, post-apocalyptic London. The ending can be seen on subsequent director’s cuts of home video versions of Army of Darkness.
15. EVEN AFTER YEARS OF TRYING, A SEQUEL NEVER MATERIALIZED.
Beginning in 2015, Bruce Campbell reprised his role as Ash in the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series. While fans of the Evil Dead franchise love it, Raimi spent years trying to get a sequel to Army of Darkness off the ground. On the commentary track for the first season of Ash vs. Evil Dead, Raimi even shared a few of the discarded ideas he had for the film.