Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Army of Darkness and New Belgium's 1554

Today is a very special day.  My blog has just reached 10,000 hits.  No small feat.  We’re not exactly failblog but we’re passionate about what we do here.  And by “we” I mean “I”.

Thank you for tuning in for part three of my series on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise.  The third one takes a wacky path away from the first.  It’s actually shot to be a standalone film and given a new title instead of the expected Evil Dead 3.  This is the big budget production for the masses instead of the previous two which were targeted at the small, but passionate, indie horror fan.  I will say that despite the fact that some of these movies that I review skirt the edges of the genre I put them in because they in some way belong.  This film does not.  I am filled with self doubt and disgust at the very idea of calling this a zombie movie.  You know what just through poltergeist in the list then!  Hellraiser was undead right?  Maybe I should review Death Becomes Her because I’m pretty damn sure that’s a zombie movie in some weird twisted way.  I digress.  The first two movies were more “demon resurrection” than zombie but I allowed them in, Army of Darkness…..does not belong in this list.  Except….IT’S AWESOME!!!  So I’m going to put it in anyway.
The beer tonight was a story much like love.  You never find it when you actively seek it out ( would disagree) but as soon as you feel content and free love beer…ummm…LOVE..finds you!  There I was in the beer isle of QFC, looking for that six dollar six pack to get me through the weekend when I find something I’ve never seen before.  Great Scott!!!  It’s another New Belgium brew.  Since I’m a fan of the Belgians, especially the dark strongs, I decided it was worth a try.  There is a story behind the beer.  Much like Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch this beer was a recreation of a very old recipe.  Not as old as the pyramids…..but old.  Like 1554 old!  The original recipe was destroyed in a flood so the scientist and brewer flew to Belgium and worked through outdated units of measurement and many trial and errors before this beautiful beer was born.  Pick some up and enjoy!
So Army of Darkness starts out with a five minute recap of the entire Evil Dead 2 movie and before you know it Ash is in the middle of some medieval blood feud made worse by the constant lingering evil of the “Deadites”.  This movie is so corn you could eat it with butter.  It’s like watching Bruce Lee play chess.  Yea I’m sure he’s probably pretty good but that’s not what you pay to see Bruce Lee for!  There is a lot less blood in this movie.  With the exception of that blood explosion at The Pit!  But what this movie lacks in over the top gore it makes up in originality and fun.  In this movie Bruce Campbell takes “Ash” to the next level.  He gives the character this smug overconfidence that is over the top and comical and pairs it with a strange mix of cowardly and total badass.  Sometimes he’s screaming and running other times he’s unloading a no-look shotgun blast into a witch.  You never know what you’re going to get.
Let me talk about the beer before I get into the movie.  This beer is smaller than what I hoped for.  The website says it’s 5.6% but I could have sworn the bottle said it was a smidge higher.  It’s only got 21 IBUs which is not uncommonly low for a Belgian.  I usually pass by anything smaller than a double because some of the smaller Belgian beers I find too one dimensional.  I know a Belgian blond can be rich and complex but I find rarely more so than a good triple.  As I pour this baby out I must say I’m impressed.  It’s got a dense thick head that billows to the brim of my Sam Adams signature glass and a deep mahogany body with scarlet red notes when you lift it to the light.  It’s a gorgeous beer if there ever was one.  And it smells the way I want all women to smell; like a toasty (almost slightly burnt) chocolate biscuit.  I know call me crazy.  And I love my women (woman, I’m married) to have a lingering aroma of dark roasted coffee, maple syrup, and earthy English hops.  Hot damn!  There is that sweet bready slap of Belgian yeast that lets you know that you’re about to savor something special.  I do my ceremonial swirl, double sniff, and then dive in for a taste.  It’s got muted chocolate tones swirling with bready toasted malt and enough roasted malt to stand your tongue up on end.  There is a long pull of more roasted character that lingers in the aftertaste.  With only a medium to medium low body this beer is surprisingly flavorful.  It’s…”quaffable but uh…far from transcendent”, (Sideways quote).  This is a mighty fine beer that will be another fixture in my fridge.  It’s perfect for the warm summer nights that you still want a dark beer but you don’t want the heaviness.  This is a high volume beer.  I had to stop myself from steaming through the whole pack.
Back to the movie.  I’ll give it to you quick and dirty.  Ash needs to retrieve the book of the dead in order to get back to his own time.  He travels off as a hero and gets the book, but he does it incorrectly thus unleashing an army of the dead (the zombies?)  This army is mostly skeletons but I guess you could maybe call them zombies?  Like a whale is sort of like a fish?  Ash wants to take off now that he has the book and leave the townspeople to fend for themselves.  What will he do?   Will he stay and be a hero or will he transport himself back home while he still can?  If you haven’t seen the movie and I’m keeping you in suspense then you’ve dropped serious cool points.
Movie Highlights – Here we come to a segment I like to call Matt’s Movie Highlights.  Here we discuss the best parts of the film, be it a two second clip or an entire scene.  Here goes.

The Pit – Probably my favorite scene in the movie.  Right off the bat where the throw the first guy in and he turns into a blood geyser.  The part where Ash jumps up to catch (connect into) his chainsaw in midair is one of the greatest scenes in movie history.  Then Ash triumphantly emerges from the bit and goes on his Boom-Stick rant…..classic.
 The Witch – Ash yells out “Yo, she bitch! Let's go.”  had me rolling.  But, that wasn’t the part that made it great.  The greatness came when Ash delivered the backwards shotgun blast to put her down for good and then did that badass shake thing.
Groovy – Ash gets a robot hand, crushes a cup, says groovy.  It was much cooler than it sounds.
Schizophrenia - In this beauty Ash is confronted by his evil self.  He actually splits in two like an amoeba.  During the fight his evil self starts slapping him and acting silly saying "I'm BAD Ash, and you're GOOD Ash" and ranting on till good Ash puts the shotgun in his face and says "Good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun." Shit yea.  Always wanted to say that but as of yet haven't found the right time.
Then there’s a bunch of slaphappy humor that I’m not too big on.
Death Car – Ash takes his 1973 Oldsmobile and turns it into a steam powered death machine with a giant spinning blade.  It’s awesome to levels I didn’t think were achievable without mild altering substances.
Those are my favorites.  The movie as a standalone is very entertaining.  I hesitate to call it great because it was missing a lot of the gore and over the top violence that made me such a fan of the first two movies.  This film focused more on Three Stooges-esqe humor.  Not a fan.  Despite the great acting (I’m talk about Ash), fun characters, and fresh new plot I still only put it at the very good level.  I know there are many diehard fans out there who will disagree but I think there could have and should have been more.  I look forward to Evil Dead 4 as a hopeful tribute to the Evil Dead and not to Army of Darkness.

The Beer:
Aroma – 10/12
Appearance – 3/3
Taste – 17/20
Palate – 4/5 
   Overall – 8/10
Total = 42/50
The Movie:
Production – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Gore – 2/5
 Zombies – 2/5 (i'm sorry but they weren't really zombies)

  Overall – 3.5/5


  1. your simple mind doesn't understand. I ain't talkin about chemistry either.

  2. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE this movie. I have the boomstick special edition with the director's cut version and alternate ending. But.....when talking purely of zombie that restrictive falls primitive screwhead.