ASH VS. EVIL DEAD

PrintE-mail Written by Iain Robertson

Following 2013’s enjoyable but humourless remake/sequel/reboot, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell et al return Evil Dead to its gore-soaked roots. With (mostly) glorious results.

When we last saw Ash – brief cameo aside – he was either trapped in a post-apocalyptic future, or back working in the S-mart, depending on which version of Army Of Darkness’s two endings you prefer. After keeping us waiting for over 20 years (has it really been that long?) we now find out that Ash did indeed make it back to his own time, and we pick up with our reluctant hero: older, definitely no wiser, living in a trailer and still working as a stock boy. (Interesting side note, Raimi reveals here that one idea they considered for a fourth Evil Dead would have followed Ash’s adventures in both time periods).

When Ash starts having visions of Deadites at very inopportune moments, he remembers that he might – possibly – have got stoned and read from the Necronomicon to try and impress a girl (who hasn’t?) Before you can say “groovy”, Ash is reluctantly picking up his chainsaw and boomstick, dismembering elderly neighbours, and setting off on a quest to find out how to undo the damage he’s caused.

Joining Ash are two of his co-workers, Pablo and Kelly (Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo, both fantastic) who seem blissfully unaware of what happens to every single person Ash meets. The trail of bodies means they’re also pursued by the police, in the shape of detective Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) and the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless) who may have sinister motives for wanting to catch up with Ash and the Necronomicon. Bruce Campbell has been playing Ash for so long now that the character fits him like a second skin. It’s good to know though that, despite their obvious affection for him, Campbell and Raimi still resist the temptation make Ash in any way heroic. He’s still a loveable idiot, forced into acts of heroism through his own blundering. And all the more enjoyable for it.    

The longer storytelling format afforded by television proves a mixed blessing. Whilst we’re treated to a richer story, new demons, and a fleshed-out supporting cast, it lacks the relentless energy of, say, Evil Dead 2. And after the first few episodes (including the Raimi-directed pilot), things sag slightly mid-season. Fortunately, it recovers, as familiar locations, characters and appendages make a welcome return, with the final few episodes up there with the most entertaining stuff Evil Dead’s ever done.

Those worried that the series’ traditional gore and humour would have be toned down for television need worry not. Evil Dead’s creators were given complete creative control by the Starz network, with whom they previously collaborated on the distinctly non-family friendly Spartacus. Deadites are dispatched in a variety of creative, bloody ways, and the cast are so frequently splattered with gore that, at times it’s like watching an 18-rated, blood-soaked Nickelodeon. The humour’s a little broader than the first two instalments, skewing closer to the more comedic Army Of Darkness, and there’s the occasional jarring bit of CGI gore thrown in amongst the impressive practical effects, but Ash vs. Evil Dead is off to a great start. The second season’s about to land in the US and, and if it keeps up this standard, Ash could be protecting us from Deadites for a long time to come. Hail to the king baby.    

Extras: Commentaries on each episode, three featurettes.

ASH VS. EVIL DEAD SEASON 1 / CERT: 18 / DIRECTORS: VARIOUS (INC. SAM RAIMI) / STARRING: BRUCE CAMPBELL, RAY SANTIAGO, DANA DeLORENZO, LUCY LAWLESS, JILL MARIE JONES / RELEASE DATE: SEPTEMBER 19TH 
 


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