Starring: Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones
Directed by: Various
Written by: Various
Running Time: 294 Minutes
As a native of the Detroit area I have always felt a bit of a personal connection to “Evil Dead” which was made by two fellow Detroit area natives, Sam Rami and Bruce Campbell. Even before the ultra-low budget classic was released in 1981, local papers were running stories about the ambitious project produced by a bunch of college students. Now, nearly 25 years after “Army of Darkness” the third film in the Evil Dead trilogy, the Starz network revives reluctant hero Ash Williams (Campbell) and a host of demons in an original TV series, Ash vs. Evil Dead.
The 10 episode series is set in modern day Michigan where Ash has amounted to little after his many horrifying encounters with the Deadites. He’s scratching out an existence as a sales clerk in a discount retail store and living in a trailer park where he drinks too much and spins tales to impress barflies into fleeting sexual encounters. It is during one of these drunken encounters that Ash reads “poetry” from the Necronomicon and mistakenly unleashes demons into the world. After fighting off a couple of the Deadites with his trusty shotgun and chainsaw hand, Ash flees the trailer park with two of his co-workers, Pablo (Santiago) and Kelly (DeLorenzo). Meanwhile, Michigan State Police Detective Amanda Fisher has had her own encounter with the demons, losing her partner in the process. She goes after Ash, believing that he is the one responsible, accompanied by a mysterious woman named Ruby (Lawless) who knows a great deal about the demons.
Over the course of the next nine episodes, Ash vs. Evil Dead is essentially a buddy/road adventure movie with the three friends encountering and battling demons and trying to find a way to reverse the incantation that freed them. Along their travels they meet Pablo’s uncle, a shaman who attempts to help them defeat the demons and a gung-ho band of militiamen who find themselves over their heads in a battle against one of their demon-possessed members. The first season culminates in a return to where it all started, that rundown old cabin in the woods where Ash has to face off against his Deadite doppelganger and is forced into a fateful decision by Ruby.
Ash vs. Evil Dead masterfully combines the slapstick humor of Army of Darkness with the terrifying hopelessness of Evil Dead. And it all comes with dozens of beheadings, dismemberments, and enough blood and guts to fill dozens of buckets. Bruce Campbell’s forte has always been his wise-cracking brand of humor in the face of insurmountable odds and it is the driving force to the series. Ash may be 30 years older but he’s lost none of the smarmy, smart ass edge that has endeared him to horror fans for decades. Even when his own self-indulgent desires threatens to doom his friends he is able to rally and save the day.
Pablo and Kelly make the perfect sidekicks, keeping Ash (somewhat) grounded and making sure he doesn’t run off on his own to play hero. Lucy Lawless as Ruby gives the series something the films lacked, a face of the antagonist. There is still much about her we don’t know. And a highlight of the series was a return to the old cabin. Yes it wasn’t the original, which was an actual remote cabin in the woods. But it is a perfect mockup complete with the lazy moving swing on the porch and the ominous trap door that leads to the cellar.
Now is the perfect time to jump into the series…get the first season on blu-ray and get ready for season two beginning October 2!
Episode Commentary – The episodes feature commentary from the actors and also creator/executive producer Sam Raimi, co-executive producer Ivan Raimi, and executive producer Rob Tapert. These give a lot of background into the series and each episode.
Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead (16:00) – A behind the scenes look at many different aspects of the series including special effects and interviews with the cast.
How to kill a Deadite (2:30) – Amusing short featurette narrated by Campbell as he passes long his vast knowledge in how to kill demons.
Best of Ash (1:30) – 90 seconds of Ash’s best lines from the series