“Shop smart, shop S-Mart,” remarks Ash, when he recounts working at the supermarket before being sucked into a time-travel portal. While this line is delivered in the suavest manner possible, Ash repeats this as a threat after he kills a pit Deadite and asserts dominance over the folks who captured him. This version of Ash is menacing and unbearably cocky, someone who is not afraid to brandish his boomstick like it’s King Arthur’s Excalibur or call an undead “she-b****” mid-fight. He also fights extremely dirty, as he kicks, screams, lops heads, and fires his gun backward over his shoulder without even looking back. For every scene where Ash looks appropriately heroic while beating up skeletons, there is a scene that inverts this heroism and humiliates him by literally making him fall headfirst into mud.
Also, one of the reasons why I prefer the original ending in the Director’s Cut over the S-Mart ending in all the other versions is that it perfectly encapsulates the essence of Ash as a knuckleheaded badass. Here, he accidentally messes up the ratio of the potion that is supposed to send him to his timeline, hence he lands in a post-apocalyptic landscape. In truly dramatic fashion, Campbell sells the comic tragedy of the situation by sinking to his knees and shouting “No! I slept too long!” which is a perfect way to conclude a horror trilogy, at least in my book.
Nevertheless, Campbell finishes strong even in the canon ending, where he shoots the undead in a highly-stylized fashion and gets the girl, bringing the trilogy to a feel-good, cheesy finish. From start to finish, Campbell drips with the frenzied charisma of a cult hero, making “Army of Darkness” a truly special, oddball experience. Hail to the king, baby.