Army Of Darkness Nearly Featured Charles Napier As Ash’s S-Mart Manager

“Army of Darkness,” even with the fight scene added to the end, still runs a mere 81 minutes. And while the short runtime assures a breakneck, Looney Tunes-like pace, one might find themselves wondering why the ending seemed so abrupt. By the same token, why did recognizable star Bridget Fonda appear at the start of “Army of Darkness,” as Ash’s girlfriend Linda, and not have any lines?¬†According to Bill Warren’s indispensable tome “The Evil Dead Companion,” there were planned additional S-Mart sequences, including a few dialogue scenes with Linda, as well as an interaction Ash has with his manager.¬†

The manager, Sam Raimi said, was to be played by the legendary Charles Napier, star of “Star Trek,” “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” and hundreds of others. One might recognize him as a cop in “The Silence of the Lambs,” or from his small roles in “The Blues Brothers” and “Rambo: First Blood Part II.” Any filmgoer in the 1980s or 1990s would likely run into Napier eventually. Napier’s manager character was going to be, according to Warren’s book, something of a jerk. Raimi said that Napier’s character, however, never made it past the workprint phase of production. Raimi excised the character entirely, as well as Linda’s dialogue.¬†

This was one of many cuts that “Army of Darkness” was to experience. There was controversy with the MPAA rating board, which wanted to rate the film NC-17 over its violence. Universal wanted a PG-13 film, so Raimi cut the film down from its original length to 88 minutes. He still, however, received an R-rating. Universal hired an outside editing house to trim further, and the 81-minute cut was the result. It still got an R rating.

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