Ash vs. Evil Dead
Created by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy
Starring Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Lucy Lawless.
Set several years after the events of the films, the series follows Ash still working as a stock boy, still charming his way into the arms of various women, and still making completely idiotic choices that threaten the future of all life on the planet. As the evil he thought vanquished returns to threaten humanity once again, Ash sets out with his new sidekicks Pedro and Kelly on an epic road trip to finally vanquish the demonic hordes of the deadites, and retire in his dream home of Jacksonville.
What has probably become abundantly clear to you all dear readers is that I am a big fan of the Evil Dead franchise. I love everything about it -the gory effects, the wacky set pieces and the overall lunacy of the series.
Since 1992 when the third film in the series Army of Darkness was released to cinemas, fans have been begging for a new instalment, and while 2013’s dark reboot/remake did provide some much-needed sustenance and successfully put the series back into the mainstream, it wasn’t quite what we wanted.
We wanted the return of Sam Raimi at the helm. We wanted the return of Bruce Campbell. We wanted the return of Ash.
In 2015 our prayers were finally answered as Raimi and Campbell returned to the franchise they had created with Ash vs. Evil Dead, a horror-comedy TV series that finally gave the fans what they had for years only dreamed about.
Bruce Campbell is back as an older, but none the wiser Ash, with Campbell being brilliant once again as his signature character, having lost none of that charming arrogance that made Ash so beloved by millions of horror fans around the world. Also, it doesn’t hurt that despite having not played the role for nearly 20 years, Campbell still looks like a bad ass when brandishing his trusty chainsaw and boomstick.
Newcomers Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo as sidekicks Pedro and Kelly respectively, make for a terrific supporting act to Ash, providing some wonderful comic foil, as well as some incredibly awesome moments in action sequences, with the two being drenched in their fair share of blood.
DeLorenzo’s Kelly, in particular, is the strongest new character, gradually overcoming her initial fear and revulsion to become a fearsome smart mouthed warrior on par with the more world-weary Ash.
Lucy Lawless also delivers a fascinating turn as the mysterious Ruby, who I would talk about more but to do so would be dealing in heavy spoilers so I won’t say much more.
Back at the helm is franchise creator Sam Raimi, who also directs the first episode, resetting the series in the style of franchise favourite Evil Dead II, and creating an effective blend of comedy and horror. The first episode has a truly creepy moment involving the creative use of a spinning torch, slowly ratcheting up the tension with every spin of the light, whereas a later scene has Ash screaming in fear after almost being killed by a tiny talking doll armed with scissors and a squeaky voice.
The series comes to us via the premium cable channel Starz, which means that we have little to no restrictions on violence and language, and you can guarantee the series takes full advantage of this.
We have old ladies being decapitated with chainsaws, children being tossed into ceiling fans and a man vomiting up a small child-like demon, all garnished with the odd swimming pool of blood splashing across the screen. This is Evil Dead at its bloody best, pure unadulterated mayhem.
Now is the series perfect? No, of course not. The series can best described as a rollercoaster. The first two episodes are the climb up and the initial rush of adrenaline and excitement as you rush around the tracks, followed by a couple of mediocre middle episodes that are like waiting in line for the next ride. Thankfully, however, the last few episodes are a return to form, with the plot finally bring us back to that now iconic cabin of the original films where the horror began, complete with a scene of Bruce Campbell beating himself up again.
Overall, Ash vs. Evil Dead is what the fans have been waiting 20 years for – a glorious, gory return of Ash to the world of deadites and demons. The series isn’t perfect and some may be disappointed by the creative lull in the middle of the first season, but even with its weaker moments I still enjoyed the series immensely, with the gory mayhem providing some effective scares and laughs.
It’s just wonderful to have Campbell back in the lead, cracking one-liners, battling monsters and just generally being awesome in a series that no Evil Dead fan would dare want to miss out.
Season 1 is out now on DVD, and keep an out for season 2 which is currently airing on Starz in the U.S. and on Virgin Media On Demand in the UK, with a third season already commissioned to air sometime in 2017.
Check it out and hail to the king.