Happy Halloween everyone! This is obviously day 31 of my #31DaysOfHorror, and I thought I’d end things on the cutting edge again, this is a brand spanking new television show in celebration, it’s Ash vs Evil Dead.
Ash has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind’s only hope.
I hope everyone has their nostalgia hats on, because Bruce Campbell is back as Ash! Now, the show airs on Starz, which I wasn’t sure what to make of, they tend to have pretty polarizing programming, including shows that I actually like, like Party Down, and shows that are terrible, like Black Sails. I wasn’t sure why they would pick up this particular property, but I’m certainly not complaining. I guess every network needs their horror show. Anyway, network talk aside, I guess there’s plenty more to talk about. I know it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, this review is of the first episode, and my initial impressions of the series going forward.
What’s great, before you even start watching the show, is that b-movie hero Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) has teamed back up with Sam Raimi (Evil Dead, writer, director) and his brother Ivan Raimi (Army of Darkness, writer) for this first episode, Ej Jefe. While I do wonder if the rest of the series might suffer having a number of different directors and writers, it’s possible that the tone and look of this first episode will maintain. Raimi and Campbell have kicked things off in true Evil Dead spirit, bringing what so many of us love about those three movies. There is a good combination of the over the top lunacy of Army of Darkness, and the genuinely creepy moments of Evil Dead 1 & 2. With plenty of gross-out moments, and a hilarious cringey performance from Bruce Campbell.
Actors seem like the best place to start here really, so I will. Obviously Campbell reprises his role as Ash, and there’s not much more to say about it. He is a creepy loser in the beginning, using his wooden hand to pick up chicks in a bar, but he definitely plays an Ash that hasn’t grown up at all since his time in the past. I mean, he brings on the apocalypse because he gets stoned and reads the Necronomicon to his date, he’s as blundering an idiot as ever, but an idiot who comes through when he needs to. Also featured are Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess), Ray Santiago (In Time), Jill Marie Jones (Girlfriends), and television actor Dana Delorenzo, and the lot of them to a great job and really seem to embrace the spirit of Raimi’s universe.
There are a ton of really fun practical effects that ring true to the original series, including a monster turning her head around and hilariously attacking Jones’ character. It really does feel like Raimi has had his hand in creating this, and he apparently was very insistent on having practical effects featured as much as possible. There are some computer-generated effects, but it’s one of those things you forgive in TV, because budgets are smaller, and time is more limited. The worst effect, easily, in the episode is a tiny evil doll that comes to life, but it is what it is.
At the end of the day, Ash Vs Evil Dead is exactly what it needs to be: fun, bloody and full of cheeseball nonsense. It’s certainly a series that I’m going to stick with, and will look forward to seeing how it progresses. If you’re a fan of the original films, this is going to work for you, probably. If you’re not, it’s still a lot of fun and worth giving a shot. At least, that’s what I have to say on the matter.
I just wanted to take a second and say thanks for reading this, and for reading the other 30 reviews I wrote this month. This project is a lot of fun, and it’s nice to force myself to write something and watch something every day. I hope you will continue to visit, and read my future reviews. I’m not sure what my next project will be, but I’ll think of something. Again, thank you so much, and happy Halloween!