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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Comedy > Adventure > Army Of Darkness (MGM R3/NTSC v. Anchor Bay Boomstick R1 Ed.)

Army of Darkness

MGM Region 3/NTSC version vs. Anchor Bay Boomstick Edition

 

 

PLEASE NOTE: The MGM DVD edition of this film can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs set for Region 3 and the NTSC format, and can be ordered from our friends at Xploited Cinema through their website:

 

www.xploitedcinema.com

 

They have this and hundreds of other great, usually very hard to get titles that are often long overdo to his the U.S. DVD market.Be sure to visit their site for more details on that as well.

 

 

 

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Picture:†††† Sound:†††† Extras:†††† Film:

Region 3 MGM:†††††††††††† B-††††††††††† B†††††††††††† B-††††††††† B

Region 1 Anchor Bay:†† C††††††††††††† B-††††††††††† B†† ††††††††B

 

 

Picking out a copy of most movies for home viewing is a simple process... you may have a choice between a widescreen or full screen edition, or maybe a basic disc versus a features-laden one - but all in all, not an entirely taxing decision.  That hasnít been the case for those trying to choose between various DVD incarnations from The Evil Dead series.  With the exception of the second chapter, the first and last films have a plethora of different editions available for purchase, each with various positives and negatives, with no clean-cut decision as to which one is the best.  For now, weíll just be comparing two editions of the (so far) final chapter in the saga - Army Of Darkness.

 

As noted at XploitedCinema.comís page on the MGM DVD, our friends at DVDBeaver.com have a couple DVD comparisons up for the film - one covering the U.S. theatrical release, and the other for the directorís cut.  While I do concur that the MGM Region 3 edition looks and sounds better than any of its counterparts, they also rated it as the best for extras as well - overlooking that the Anchor Bay editions of the directorís cut include the same features, plus a couple more that the MGM edition didnít include.  Although the one from MGM boasts clarity, sharpness and detail, some spots have noticeable artifacts that may come off as bothersome to viewers.  Those artifacts are missing or reduced significantly on the Anchor Bay release, but youíll be getting a murkier picture overall - so there is a bit of a tradeoff.  The winner for sound is no contest - while Anchor Bay released the theatrical cut with 5.1 Dolby Surround, they neglected to do so for the directorís cut, leaving it in 2.0 stereo.  However, if you pick up the MGM, youíll be treated to a nice 5.1 surround sound mix, even though it does lack the luxury of being in DTS.For the record, the film was originally issued in Dolbyís advanced SR (Spectral Recording) analog system, which the MGM remix does not botch; something that has happened too often in SR-to-5.1 remasters we have come across.

 

The aspect ratio is different between each of the two releases.  MGM offers 1.85:1 widescreen, whereas the Anchor Bay is 1.66:1, but both editions are anamorphically enhanced for 16x9 TVs.  Iím unsure which of these is faithful to the theatrical presentation, and there is at least one other edition with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  None of these variances create any great difference, but again, it is odd that there is less uniformity seen here than that of other titles of this age.

 

The extras on these discs are fairly standard, but are still pretty good.  Either way you go, you're guaranteed to be treated to a few deleted scenes, the alternate ending, a photo gallery and a full-length commentary.  What you'll be missing on the MGM version isn't much - but it may be enough to put fans off from this being the exclusive director's cut of the film found in their collections.  The Anchor Bay is the only one that has the great storyboard feature that will entertain veterans of the film.  I was expecting it be viewable separately, but instead you'll have the storyboards tucked into the corner of the screen and they'll advance alongside of the film.  It's a neat feature that's of use, and I'm sure lots of Deadites will be loving it.  Less interesting, but also exclusive to the Anchor Bay version, are a few concept drawings for the film.  There aren't too many of these, but it's a pretty cool way to get some more insight on the early stages of a film's path to completion.

 

As for the film itself, both cuts have their problems, and devotees will argue which is superior to no end.  Iíve always found the film enjoyable though, and it carries the franchise into a new direction that was glimpsed briefly at the end of the second film.  It is true that Ashís character takes a dramatic turn toward the end of the film, and things run into a bit of a wall; but itís still interesting enough to hold your attention until the finale.  Concerning the end of the film, I can sort of see why the studio wanted a new ending tacked on.  It provides more resolution and the humor ďredeemsĒ the film of what could be considered tedious battle sequences.  However, it does lead to much more pedestrian possibilities for any sequel that they could have hoped to produce at the time.

 

It will nonetheless be interesting to see what direction is chosen for Evil Dead IV, if the rumors about the supposedly proposed sequel hold true.  I personally would like to see it continue on in the distant future, but it would almost surely require an astronomical budget and probably leave more than a few casual fans confused as to how the hell Ash ended up stuck somewhere further along in time.  I have heard several creative ideas proposed by fans and those on the fringe of the property, and Iím sure that if Sam and Bruce really do want to take this project on, theyíll pick a good direction for everything to flow to.  Just keep your fingers crossed on this one.

 

For further consideration, there is a third and slightly different cut of this film floating around out there, and it is also one that is unavailable for purchase.  However, you will be able to catch it on TV, as it airs on the Sci-Fi Channel network quite frequently.  The television cut apparently differs in a few ways, and oddly enough, has some deleted scenes (included on these editions as extras) integrated into the film, but in far better condition than those contained on either of these discs.  Why neither of these companies were able to obtain the better quality prints of these outtakes, I donít really know - but hopefully someday, an unquestionably ultimate edition will be released that presents the deleted scenes as nicely as the TV print has managed.  Unfortunately, I missed a recent broadcast of this version and am unable to compare it side by side with these, but perhaps some other time Iíll have the chance to go a bit more in depth on the subject.

 

For the true Evil Dead buff out there, youíll be faced with a lot of choices on the DVD market, and youíll probably resort to owning at least two different editions of each film in the series.  In the case of this entry, I do recommend having a copy of each of the two editions reviewed here, as there are different highlights found on each that warrant ownership over any of the others Iím aware of.  Itís almost essential to own both authorized cuts of the film, and by having both of these editions youíll be getting maximum picture and sound quality for each version, and all of the extras available to you at this time.

 

You can again find the MGM Region 3 edition of this film over at www.xploitedcinema.com, along with tons more that will fascinate the cult movie fan inside of you.  Hopefully you find what youíre looking for and support these companies so that they can continue providing excellent content to both the consumers and to this site.

 

 

-†† David Milchick


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