Last night I unwound from my rather tiring day by watching one of the DVDs I picked up the other day. I popped in the Director's Cut of Army of Darkness, and it proved to be just what the doctor ordered. I love the Evil Dead trilogy, and I'd never seen the original cut (which was released overseas), though I'd heard about its more downbeat ending.
Yes, the ending's different, but apart from that there are few overt departures from the theatrical release. The apocalyptic finale is more in keeing with the no-one-here-gets-out-alive theme of the frist two movies, and Bruce Campbell, who plays the zombie-beset Ash, has indicated that the original ending runs with the notion that Ash is "basically an idiot, and he asks for everything he gets." I like both endings; the original one is more thematically consistent with the rest of the trilogy, but the theatrical release ending had the great closing line "Hail to the King, baby."
Apart from the ending, other notable differences include a brief love scene between Sheila and Ash (shown in silhouette in front of a fireplace). Other sequences are expanded; for example, the struggle between Ash and the Evil in the abandoned windmill (which also helps tie the movie with the original two) contains some extra pratfalls. In a most satisfying addition, the sequence during the climactic battle where Ash decimates the army of Deadites with his Oldsmobile of Doom is a lot longer...in the theatrical release, the Car of Death appears, wastes a skeleton or two, then promptly explodes.
Aside from those expansions, Army of Darkness is the same movie I've always loved, full of an aggravated Ash teeing off against abusive zombies and medieval warriors and enduring much abuse in the process. Although several portions of the film achieve some nice tension, AoD is much more of a comedy than a horror film; slapstick abounds and director Sam Raimi includes some not-so-subtle Three Stooges references.
DVD extras include a couple of deleted scenes that never made it into either version of the film, complete with commentary by Campbell and Raimi. In lieu of subtitles are images from the movie's storyboard superimposed on a corener of the screen. The Director's Cut was appartently once part of a two-disc Collector's Edition of AoD by Anchor Bay Entertainment. Eventually I plan to pick up the theatrical version. If Anchor Bay had included the theatrical ending among the extras, I wouldn't bother, but I suppose that's exactly why they didn't.