I have waited the better part of 20 years for a true sequel to Army of Darkness (the third chapter in the Bruce Campbell, chainsaw handed, Evil Dead trilogy). In the decades since we have had comic books, video games and even and remake all contained in the universe that writer/director Sam Raimi created, but nothing close to a true continuation of Ashley J. William’s tale. Sure, Campbell and Raimi would tease us in dozen of interviews claiming a fourth movie would happen and at one time Campbell even claimed he was too old and wanted Ashton Kutcher to carry the chainsaw and fill his shoes. All of this teasing left me cold and skeptical that my favorite horror trilogy would stay just that. Then last year it was announced that not only would Raimi and Campbell return to the Evil Dead world, but it would be an ongoing series on a cable network (which means swearing and gore!) and this time it was an official statement made at Comic Con followed quickly by confirmation by the network. Even with all that, it felt too good to be true and even moments before firing up the show on my TV, I half expected to find a short video of Raimi and Campbell laughing and yelling gotcha! Yes, I am such a narcissus I believed that a famous Hollywood director spent millions in fake marketing and production just to tease me. Fortunately, that was not the case and Ash was back baby!
Picking up 30 years after the first installment of Evil Dead, we find Ashley J. Williams in all his Ash glory. Remember the young and handsome one liner spitting, ladies man who Ash was in Army of Darkness? Well that’s still Ash, only now 30 years older and living in a trailer park and still a stockboy. So it’s not as glorious as we would expect and Ash is definitely not in his prime anymore. Ash has spent the last few decades running from his past and after trying to impress a chick in a drug fueled stupor, Ash reads from the Necronomicon and unleashes the Deadites back into this world. Deadites who have score to settle with Ash and will stop at nothing until they swallow his soul!
As a die hard Evil Dead fan, I was hardcore strict with this series. Sure, the original star and director and producers are all on board, but 20 years since the last installment is a long time and people change. Campbell is older and Raimi isn’t the young scrappy film maker he once was. He’s a blockbuster directing machine now and I was worried his time in Oz and webslinging had made him to soft. Those fear were quickly pushed aside 10 minutes into this bad boy. If anything Raimi appears to have gotten even more badass. The gore and puns fly non-stop and even while still being slap sticky and funny, Raimi even is able to squeeze in some creepy moments. Although the cheesiness has become a staple of the series, at times it felt like it might be a tad too cheesy. Watching an aging Campbell drop lines on hotties was a little painful, but I suppose that was the joke. All that is quickly forgotten when Ash straps on the chainsaw and gets into some Deadite ass kicking glory!
The addition of Pablo ( Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) as Ash’s sidekicks adds a nice layer to things and definitely helps ease things back into the 21st century (were still in the 21st century right??). Santiago has a goofy charm to him that screams Ted Raimi (probably would have been Ted if Ted was 20 years younger). Delorenzo plays the hard-edged, hottie that I’m sure will get into all sorts of ass kicking fun. The pilot also sets up the subplot of Detective Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) stumbling into the world of Deadites and teaming up with Ruby (Lucy Lawless). Not much is said about that, but with 9 more episodes to go, I’m we can expect Xena level of awesomeness!
Ash vs Evil Dead is an honest and true continuation of the series and the change from big screen to television is flawless. Had it been 10 years ago I don’t believe they could have pulled this off. Where television is at now it’s been begging for a series like AvE and honestly, so have I. Ash vs Evil Dead is everything I could have ever wanted for the next chapter in Ash’s story and here’s to hoping the rest of the series stays with this trend.