7 Reasons ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is Similar to ‘Army of Darkness’

Published 1 year ago by , Updated June 4th, 2014 at 10:10 am, This is a list post.

Oz the Great and Powerful and Army of Darkness

Did you know that Oz the Great and Powerful is a shot-for-shot remake of Army of Darkness? Forget the mystery of which actress is playing the Wicked Witch of the Westthis is the secret that Disney has been hiding! Of course, we’re only kidding. Oz isn’t actually a remake of the third Evil Dead movie - shot-for-shot or otherwise. Nevertheless, there are some striking similarities between the two films - which director Sam Raimi recently confessed in our interview with him - to the point that it bears further scrutiny in the form of a side-by-side comparison guide. As such, we’ve crafted a list comparing the two films and their various similarities. FYI: There are MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead for Oz the Great and Powerful, so if you'd prefer to watch that movie without knowing every major story beat, you should probably stop reading right now. Everyone else? Read on... [SPOILER ALERT!!!!!]

The Protagonist

Bruce Campbell as Ash and James Franco as Oscar Diggs

Both Army of Darkness and Oz the Great and Powerful feature protagonists who are selfish, arrogant blowhards – Ashley J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) in Army and Oscar Diggs (James Franco) in Oz. Sure, Oscar is probably a bit craftier than Ash (of course that’s true of most people, as Ash’s greatest strength is his incomparable stupidity), but otherwise, they’re two peas in a pod. Furthermore, both men are incredible womanizers who whisper (fake) sweet nothings into ladies’ ears to get them into bed. Ash likes to tell the ladies that he loves them (“That’s just what we call pillow-talk, baby!”) while Oscar likes to give them cheap music boxes that he claims were previously owned by his dead grandmother. (Spoiler alert: They weren’t. And even if they were, that would be really creepy.) In the end, both characters find their courage and manage to save the day. Awww.

The Set-Up

Army of Darkness Time Portal Oz Hot Air Balloonv

Army of Darkness is about a (mostly) regular Joe – Ash – being sucked through a magical portal back to Medieval times. There, he’s hailed by the locals (whom Ash refers to as "primitive screwheads") as 'the chosen one,' a man from the future long ago prophesied to fall from the sky and defeat the Evil Dead. Oz the Great and Powerful is about a grifting magician - Oscar - whose hot air balloon gets sucked up by a tornado, which subsequently sends him to the Land of Oz. There, he’s hailed by the locals as the chosen one, a great wizard long ago prophesied to fall from the sky and defeat the Wicked Witch. Neither Ash nor Oscar are the sort of "chosen ones" that their respective believers expected, but ultimately, that's what makes them so special.

The Mission

Oz and Army of Darkness Cemetery

In Army of Darkness, Ash is promised the thing he desires most – to go back to his own time – as long as he travels through a dark and terrible forest and into a forbidden cemetery to recite three words ("Klaatu, Verata, Nikto!") so that he can safely retrieve the Necronomicon. Unfortunately, because Ash is a full-blown moron, he doesn’t remember "every tiny syllable" and instead awakens the titular army of darkness. In Oz the Great and Powerful, Oscar is promised the thing he desires most – enough gold to make Scrooge McDuck jealous – in exchange for the destruction of the "Wicked" Witch. Reluctantly, he agrees and sets off through a dark and terrible forest and into a forbidden cemetery, where he learns that the so-called Wicked Witch is actually the good witch – Glinda (Michelle Williams) - and that he was duped by the actual Wicked Witch (of the East), Evanora (Rachel Weisz).

The Love Interest Turned Hideous Monster!

Sheila and the Wicked Witch

In Army of Darkness, Ash wins the heart of Sheila (Embeth Davidtz) after displaying his unrivaled demon-slaying prowess several times over (his chainsaw hand and "boom stick" probably didn’t hurt, either). Later, Sheila's kidnapped by a flying Deadite before being possessed and transformed into a Deadite herself. When she reunites with Ash on the battlefield, she tells him, "You found me beautiful once!" To which Ash responds, "Honey, you got real ugly." She sure did. In Oz the Great and Powerful, Theodora (Mila Kunis) falls madly in love with Oscar Diggs after he gives her a cheap music box and teaches her to dance, dance, dance the night away. Alas, Oscar doesn’t actually have feelings for Theodora, and that little revelation drives her to eat the apple of wickedness given to her by her (already wicked) sister, Evanora. The apple immediately transforms Theodora into that Wicked Witch of the West we all know and love – in other words, she looks less like Mila Kunis and more like a skinny, pointy-faced She-Hulk.

The Evil Army

The Armies of Darkness and the Flying Monkey Army

Both Army of Darkness and Oz the Great and Powerful feature massive evil armies that terrorize the heroes of their respective stories. In Army, the army is composed entirely of Deadites - i.e., demons who have possessed humans or the corpses of humans. These particular Deadites are (primarily) stop-motion skeletons, a la Jason and the Argonauts. In Oz, there are actually two armies: first, the Winkie army (you know, those fellows who chant "Oh We Oh, Yo Ho" repeatedly), and second, the evil flying baboon army. The baboon army is obviously the real threat of the story, and they're seemingly more vicious and violent than the flying monkeys you remember from The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Climactic Battle

The Speeches from Army of Darkness and Oz

In Army of Darkness, Ash’s heart grows three sizes and he gives a grandiose speech that inspires the townsfolk to come together and defend the castle against the oncoming army of Deadites. Because he’s from the future, Ash uses his rather convenient knowledge of black powder and modern technology to mount a surprisingly formidable defense. In Oz the Great and Powerful, Oscar comes to realize that he might be a good (not great) man after all, thanks to Glinda's encouragement. As a result, he gives a grandiose speech that inspires the good people of Oz - the Quadlings, the Munchkins, and the Tinkers - to stand up to the Wicked Witches’ terrible armies. Because Oscar is from a more scientifically-minded world, he uses his knowledge of black powder, (not quite) modern technology, and magic tricks to mount a surprisingly formidable offense.

Wicked Witch or She-B*****?

The Witch from Army of Darkness

Near the end of Oz the Great and Powerful, Glinda the Good Witch defeats The Wicked Witch of the East (A.K.A. Evanora), whose true form - that of a hideous, old crone - is finally revealed. And she looks almost exactly like the quote-unquote "she-b****" from Army of Darkness. The scene that follows, with its intense zooms and artificial wind, is like something straight out of the Evil Dead series and incredibly reminiscent of the aforementioned "she-b*****" scene. The similarities in this instance seem particularly intentional. Raimi, of course, has been known to insert visual nods to the Evil Dead series in his movies, especially more recently (the surgery scene in Spider-Man 2 and 80% of Drag Me to Hell).

Conclusion

Oz the Great and Powerful Cast

In our recent interview with Sam Raimi, the director talked about the parallels between Oz the Great and Powerful and Army of Darkness, and even said that he tried early on to make Oz more distinct (apparently he assumed not enough people had seen Army for the similarities to matter). It's worth noting that the story for Oz was written by Mitchell Kapner, so many of said similarities were probably around prior to Raimi's involvement. For more about Oz the Great and Powerful and Evil Dead: ——— Oz the Great and Powerful is in theaters everywhere. If you want to see an actual remake of an Evil Dead movie, the aptly-titled Evil Dead hits theaters April 5th, 2013. Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.
TAGS: evil dead, the great and powerful oz, the wizard of oz

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  1. Spoiler in section 3 should have been labeled as such.

    • @Aknot – Somebody isn’t reading before he is clicking…

      I’ve made it even more obvious to peeps who do that – but I can’t do much more than that…

      • My bad just saw the Spoiler alert noted on page two for the one item so thought you would be labeling which ones were spoilers and which ones were not.

        • That was a joke spoiler alert, but I can see why that’d be confusing.

  2. @Aknot – There is a BIG spoiler warning on the very first slide.

    I thought the witch at the end of Oz looked more like the “swallow your soul” lady from the first Evil Dead.

    Paul

    • Yeah but some are labeled (least slide 2 was) so I was assuming that the spoilers (if they were some are some are not) would be labeled as such.

  3. I’m not reading any of this yet cuz I wanna see Oz first!! But I love love love army of darkness this makes me want to see Oz even more :D

  4. you forgot to mention Bruce Campbell is IN Oz The great and Powerful as Gore/The Dark Wizard and as the Winkie Guard at the gate

    • I don’t think Gore the Dark Wizard made the cut in the movie, unless I missed something.

    • That has nothing to do with them having a similar story.

  5. So basically, I could watch Army Of Darkness for the thousandth time and not only have an idea what happens in Oz The Great And Powerful, I could (possibly) have a better movie experience too?

    Only say that because Oz just….hasn’t tempted me to want to see it.

  6. “Oz the Great and Powerful” is all smoke and no mirrors, no fantasy, just effects without affect. To be honest, more like Oz the Amiable and Un-threatening. The best, funniest Oz thing I’ve read lately is DA YELLER BRICK ROAD, a revisionist telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Uncle Remus. The conceit is it was originally by Remus (who didn’t exist) and then “borrowed and cleaned-up” by Baum. Hilarious and charming. All that “Oz the Great and Powerful” is not.

  7. Urg I can’t stand Raimi’s annoying super zooms or “Raimi zooms” takes me out completely for the scenes.

  8. Raimi has really ceased to be original a long time ago. He’s just rehashing one or two storylines over and over again masked with different characters. Darkman and Spidey 2 have the same storylines.

    As for Oz, the visual effects were really atrocious. It kept pulling me out of the film. The VFX Supervisor has no eye for it. Raimi should have hired Ken Ralston instead, the man behind Alice. Instead he got a B level supe.

    The story was too long and boring in a lot of places. The acting was stiff at times and poor. I’m so glad I didn’t take the entire family to see this. They’ll have to wait for Netflix streaming at best.

    • Eh, Alice had equally bad CGI, if not slightly worse.

  9. Anybody notice China Doll’s line as a direct homage to Evil Dead 2? “Now let’s go kill ourselves a witch” vs “Now let’s go carve ourselves a witch.

    • Raimi denies any similarity between his ED movies and Oz but thats probably just for legal reasons because your right there are many similarities.

      • Nah, he admitted there are similarities in the interview linked above.

  10. Not Army of Darkness. Three Amigos. Think about it.

  11. What if Ash starred in Oz the Great and Powerful?

  12. Comparing it to army of darkness just sold it for me

  13. Forgetting I was in a kids movie, I yelled “Hey! It’s she b**** from Evil Dead!” in the ending scene. Yeah, not my best idea…

    But seriously, it would have been pretty awesome if OZ said “Honey, you got REAL ugly” in the end :)

  14. There are only 7 types of stories in the world, so rehashing/variations of a story from yesteryear is bound to happen. Both of these movies bear a resemblance to ‘ A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s court’

    • Thats a good point. I think Raimi did admit he based AoD on “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”

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