Army of Darkness: Original Ending or Theatrical Release? (SPOILERS, obviously)

I can’t imagine that there are too many fans of the movie who aren’t aware that there were two different endings, but I’ll sum up just in case:

In the theatrical release, of course, the film ends with Ash returning to the present and relating his adventures to his S-Mart co-worker, a bored-looking Ted Raimi. However, all is not well; Ash has neglected (again) to recite the correct incantation, and a Khandarian demon (or Deadite, or whatever) has followed him back. Ash dukes it out with the she-bitch in the sporting goods aisle, emerges victorious, gets the girl etc.: “Hail to the king, baby!”

This was not the ending that Sam Raimi had intended, however. In the original ending, Ash is sealed into a cavern with a magic potion that will send him into a deep trance, to awake in the present day. Ash is instructed to drink only five drops. As he starts to count them off, he is distracted by a strange noise in the cavern. He looks around; it’s nothing. Satisfied, he finishes the rest of the potion. When he awakens from his coma, he digs his way out of the time capsule to behold a blasted post-apocalyptic landscape; he’d taken one drop too many! Ash screams in frustration…and the credits roll.

This ending was nixed by the studio for being too much of a downer, and the new “S-Mart” framing material was filmed instead. I recall Bruce Campbell speaking out at a convention about what a terrible decision this was, as the original ending kept the door wide open for a sequel.

Now, I have an enormous amount of respect for Sam Raimi as a director, and I would give my eyeteeth and nosehairs for another “Evil Dead” film. I also have never considered myself a yokel who demands an upbeat or unambiguous ending to his escapist film fare. That said, and having seen both endings, I just can’t seem to accept Sam Raimi’s originally filmed ending as the better choice. For one thing, I feel like the second ending is slightly truer to the character of Ash, who though often boneheaded is basically a survivor. In my opinion, the original ending made him out to be a buffoon who couldn’t even count to five. I also don’t see that the second ending ruled out a sequel in any way, and anyway I doubt that the studio would have gone out of its way to finance one even if the original ending had been used.

One other note: According to Bruce Campbell at the above convention, Sam Raimi’s idea for a sequel would have involved a future race of evil robots, with Ash as the “primitive screwhead” who eventually leads the subjugated humans in a Spartacus-like uprising. Now, I have enormous respect for Sam Raimi…

Any thoughts on this topic? Am I wrong to favor the happy ending?

I agree with you, especially with the knowledge that a sequel is very unlikely.

Yeah, the future sequence was more true to the spirit of the ending in the first two films (ie, Ash is utterly screwed), but teh S-Mart ending was just hilarious.

That Robot sequel sounds like a winner, however.

Btw, is it just my copy, or do many (but not all) of the scenes on the Official Bootleg Version DVD have absolutely shitty video quality?

What?!?! An ending without “My name’s Ash. [cocks shotgun] Housewares.”
Blasphemy.

No kidding. The ending of the theatrical release is much better than the OE, hands down, no contest.

Besides, Ash is a pretty intelligent guy. The first time he messed up “klaatu barada nikto” he was nervous, but screwing it up a second time just makes him look like an idiot.

Mine has this same issue, and I’m 99.9% sure it has to do with the only source for this material probably being a video copy from Raimi’s closet somewhere. The deleted scenes on the UHF DVD are of similar quality, and Weird Al said they came from an old VHS copy of an original cut of the movie, so I’m going to wager that Raimi did the same thing on AoD.

Not if you ask Campbell or Raimi, both of whom repeatedly (but Campbell especially - who says he doesn’t like the scenes where Ash appears competent) refer to the character in DVD commentary as “that idiot Ash” who just happens to not panic in a life-or-death struggle with Deadites, hence his ability to live through to the end of the film. From what I’ve read and heard, they feel the OE was more appropriate because Ash screwed up and caused the deaths of 100s of people in the Deadite war and saw the OE as proper come-uppance.

That said, I think the released S-mart ending is better. It’s funnier, gives the audience one last fight scene, and Ash gets some final cool lines: “Lady, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave the store,” The aforementioned “My names Ash… Housewares.” and “Hail to the king, baby.”

How many idiots you know that can pull off the feats of engineering Ash did in turning his car into a siege weapon?

I think of Ash as a guy of above average intelligence but not much common sense, not unlike myself.

I never thought of him as being idiotic for not getting the phrase right so much as I thought of him as being incredibly LAZY! He’s like a kid in school who simply CAN’T be bothered to learn that week’s spelling words even though he’s intelligent enough to do so.

And, since it needs to be said …

“KLAATU … BARADA … Nhrufhrur(cough, cough)hrfhuhurahrufhur!!!”

Hey, I’m just passing on what I heard from the director and actor during DVD commentary and from Cambpell’s autobiography (great book BTW). He didn’t seem all that stupid in the 2nd film (rigging the chainsaw to fit on his hand takes some brains) and in the 3rd film besides fixing up the car, he also (IIRC) got himself a new “groovy” hand.

I always thought his problems in the 3rd movie stemmed more from his personality than from sheer stupidity. As Snoooopy says, he just can’t be bothered to get the details right, he just wants to go home.

It’s hard for me to decide.

S-mart ending was just plain fun, and I love how’s it’s pulled out.

The nuke ending is nice and dark and leaves room open for a sequel.

As for Ash’s Intelligence.

In Evil Dead: He’s about as smart as any of them, more or less. He’s smart enough not to go into the woods once the realizes the threat but not smart enough to cut up the rest of the deadites despite ample oppurtunity (Yeah, I know you love/like them, but they are now demon pocessed and you can’t save them).

Evil Dead 2: Ash is the Smartest one in the movie, and has no qualms about the danger he’s in or what he has to do to stop it. The only stupid thing he really did was letting the redneck get the shotgun.

Army of Darkness: Ash loses about 20 IQ points, so he does really stupid things(drinkng boiling water) despite his obvious talents(able to make a bionic glove in 1300 AD).

“Good…bad…I’m the guy with the gun.”

But that horrible uni-brow! Thank God Bruce found the tweasers by Evil Dead 2.

Ash is a dope… A lucky dope but a dope none the less. His interactions with other characters don’t arise from his self confidence but his stupidity. I wish they had him hide as they wanted to do during the fight.

The engineering done in the film was more of a leap of logic as they were able to do the retro fit on the Car by a vook on steam engines adn the gunpowder from a Chemistry 101 book.

I prefer the Original ending because it promised something new for a sequel rather than the same old Ash fighting Deadites in modern times.

Well I hadn’t known there was an original ending, and I can’t really imagine it. It does sound like it would fit the films perfectly, but the S-Mart ending is just damned good.

As for Ash …

He’s a bloody bonehead. I think y’all are looking too deeply into it. This is absolute slapstick. Character is secondary to his getting beat up in the most extreme ways, so they have few qualms about changing him to fit what they need.

IMHO, of course.

At the risk of launching another debate…

I prefer the alternate version of this retort: “I ain’t that good.”

Perhaps this is because, when I saw AoD in the theater, there were some young kids watching it (where were their parents?), and they giggled at “I’m the one with the gun.” I find that disturbing.

I also favor the apocalyptic ending. What’s wrong with a downer? The first Evil Dead ended with Ash being possessed; ED2 ended with him trapped in the past (albeit hailed as a hero). It fits the pattern, in addition to sequel possibilities.

I agree that the original was more in line with the other two movies. However I still think the S-mart version was 100 times better. Can’t get better than Ash back in S-mart. Ash the working class hero!:smiley:

The holocost ending is how the film ended in the European releases so there are good quality prints of it around and I don’t know why the quality of it looked so bad on the Official Bootleg edition. I have the limitted edition from a few years before that it looks fine, especially in comparison to some of the other film elements which did look pretty awful, in the alternate version.

Also, it wasn’t like Raimi is against the S-Mart ending. The US distributers mentioned that the ending was a downer so he made a goofy ending to go with the film. Personally I like the S-Mart stuff better but oversleeping ending isn’t bad. S-Mart ends the film on another action sequence similar to the ones we’ve been watching and fits in better with the feel of the movie while the oversleeping ending has got the good punchline but it’s kind of dull otherwise…

Wow, a AoD/ED thread without reference to A walk in the woods (or whatever it was called)… Amazing. :smiley:

Not to be “That asshole,” but the S-Mart ending left it open enough for a sequel that the video game “Hail to the King” was fit in almost perfectly. I’ve seen Bruce a couple of times, and seen plenty of other interviews with him, and what it all boils down to…they really just didn’t want to make a sequel. He claims it’s because the first one didn’t do well in theaters, and thus proved that a fourth ED wouldn’t make any money, and thus, no one would pay to have it done. One look at video/DVD and memoribelia sales, as well as the number of fan sites out there, will prove how much bullshit that really is. You can tell Bruce hates being pigeonholed as Ash, and with that final movie, he was done with it. And if you look at his stuff since then, Sam’s moved on as well.

Now, I think the first ending works, but ONLY IF YOU KEEP THE ORIGINAL OPENNING!! I’ve got two VHS copies with special features at the end that have it, and it’s a really creepy open with an insane Ash recalling the events of the previous movies, where all you can see is a strip of red light illuminating his eyes. Very creepy, and the two fit perfectly. The problem? The movie’s just not that dark. For the two to work, the humor needed to be superceeded by something more. The terror of the first one was overrun by slapstick in the sequel, and by little quips and remarks in the third. The script was absolutely wonderful, but it doesn’t go well with the dark cryptic ending.

I like the S-Mart ending. It’s funny, it’s fast paced, and it just fits. I’m with the “Ash is a dumb ass” line of thinking, and this shows that even though he’s still a dork, he’s still a bad ass. In the first movie, he was a coward. He ran away from anything and didn’t fight back until he had no other choice. In the sequel, he was a complete and utter dumb ass, but he was also fed up and started throwing his wieght around. In the third, he was just fed up with the demons and the whole situation he was stuck in, and his attitude change. He became a bad ass, but his intelligence never increased. Sure, he help remake a car, and taught the wise men the joys of gun powder, but he also taught soldiers how to fight*? Obviously, they just put this stuff in there to glorify him and help make the situation even more ridiculous. It all worked well, but you have to admit, he’s really, really dumb.