I am a lifelong, and I mean lifelong fan of the Evil Dead franchise. I credit Evil Dead 2 as my favorite film of all time. It was my first introduction to H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. And I have devoted many scenes in my films and pages in my books to both subtle and not so subtle homages to this fantastic series by Sam Raimi and his crew of cinema soldiers. And I even hired Danny Hicks who played Jake in ED2 to read an audio version of one of my Lovecraftain short stories.
To say I’m a fan of Ash and Co. would be an understatement. I’ve been obsessed with Deadites and chainsaw wielding douchebags since before I had pubic hair. Now, as a 36 year old man, I and every other horror lover on planet Earth got to experience that backwoods, demonic possession, goofy one liner and over-the-top gore world once again. Does Ash Vs Evil Dead season 1 live up to its 30+ year legacy, or is it just another cheap TV horror nostalgia cash-in?
It’s not surprising that I loved this new series, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t watch the pilot with a lot of apprehension. It had been many years since the crew of Bruce, Sam, Rob and them had taken up the chainsaw and boom-stick. For a lot of years, they said they would never revisit the property. Then, out-of-nowhere, there was a remake (which I loved. The director and star went on to make this month’s hottest horror film Don’t Breathe, btw.)
Just as out-oh-nowhere was the announcement that Starz had ordered an Evil Dead show to series. With Sam Raimi writing and directing the pilot episode and Bruce Campbell reprising the role of Ash after nearly 20 years.
And then it was here. And it was awesome! The show wastes no time reminding us of how much of a complete loser douchebag Ash is, and how much he still loves himself. My favorite part of this new Evil Dead story is that, essentially, the only reason these new events with the Deadites are happening is because Ash gets fucked up with some chick he met at the bar and reads out of the Necronomicon to get laid. That’s just such an amazingly Ash thing to do.
The addition of Pablo and Kelly really works well here, as it allows Ash to comment on current social issues in the most awful and pompous ways possible, while having characters from this generation to keep him in check.
Now, there are sloppy episodes in this season. They’re not all winners, but the gore is so on point and the good episodes are so great, that the totality of Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 1 ends up being a lot more good than bad. High points for me include the episode “Books from Beyond” and the glitch demon Eliogos as well as the episode “The Host” where Kelly gets evil and sexy. You’ll never look at bong smoking the same way again…
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Lucy Lawless’s turn as Professor Knowby’s daughter Ruby. She adds that air of sincerity as an actress that keeps this series from floating away on Ash and Pablo’s goofball antics.
Probably the saddest episode is “Ashes to Ashes” wherein Ash returns to the Cabin from the original movies and the Deadites taunt him saying that he’s gotten everyone he’s ever loved killed. It’s sad because they’re not wrong. And his Ash vs. Ash scenes were as epic and fun as anything in the original run of the movies.
In the end, I’ll give Ash Vs Evil Dead Season 1 4 Strangeheads out of 5 for amazing gore, great fun, and awesome monsters bringing my all time favorite horror franchise into 2016 in a big, sincere way. Raimi and Co. did not half-ass their return to their most beloved franchise, and this weirdo can’t wait till October for Season 2 and more bloody, outrageous fun with Ash, Pablo, Kelly and Ruby!