Skip to main content


Army of Darkness: Valorizing the Idiot Hero

Sitting down to watch Army of Darkness  (1992) for the umpteenth time, I found myself somewhat perplexed: On one hand, this was a family favorite; I'd grown up with this movie. Watching it this time, I found myself unable to enjoy it in quite the same way. It's certainly quotable—even funny in spots, if only for the visual gags. But the idiocy of the hero, Ash, was impossible to ignore, and not always for the better. He lampoons the heroic tale, but does nothing to abate its sexist blueprint. The first Evil Dead (1982) is a Gothic classic; its effects are crude but effective, and its hero actually suffers. The second movie is largely tongue-in-cheek, slapstick. Army of Darkness  is Raimi at his most Romantic, and sexist; he hurls Ash back into the past, where his wildest, manliest dreams come true. A tale of reaffirmed hubris, its dreamlike material sends our hero into an increasingly delusional state.  Byronic antiheros like Don Juan were intentionally excessive. A parody of p
Recent posts

Gothic themes in The Vanishing / Spoorloos (1988)

The Vanishing  / Spoorloos  (1988) has a cheerful appearance, but a dark feel. A chilling tale of tragic love, it concludes in the most horrifying of ways. And, like many Gothic tales, a strange element of fun lingers amid the hellish torment. It has all the ingredients of mystery and revenge: a boyfriend and his lover, wronged by a perfidious killer. But it lacks the mediaeval imagery and immediate fanfare of American outings ( Seven , Silence of the Lambs , etc). Instead, it's more laid back—a vacation gone awry.  A Dutch couple, Saskia and Rex, are traveling in France. While on the road, Saskia tells Rex of a dream—her, trapped inside a golden egg surrounded by darkness. Her egg must touch another egg for the darkness to end. Then, the two eggs can meld, sharing oblivion forever. The Vanishing is based off a novel called  The Golden Egg  (1984; written by Tim Krabbé, also The Vanishing 's screenwriter).  If Saskia's dream is hard to picture, the next scene illustrates it