You have to love Bruce Campbell’s attitude toward “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” He’s like that angry dad who you keep asking for bike for your birthday and he keeps telling you that he has no money, and to shut your trap, or he’s locking you in the basement with the other bad kids. Then on your birthday, he shows up with a brand new bike and says “Well I got it because… you know… you’re a good kid, and you wouldn’t shut up about it. Now go get me a pack of smokes.” Bruce is that kind of man who loves his fans despite the gruff exterior and rewarded us with “Ash vs. Evil Dead” because we wouldn’t shut up about it. And because, you know, you can’t have Ash without Campbell. Just in time for Halloween, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” gets everything right about the “Evil Dead” movie series.
It mixes the wacky, the zany, the terrifying and the menacing, along with delivering a first season of episodes that feel like one giant sequel. It’s the sequel we’ve wanted for years, except now it’s being delivered in serial form and it’s just so deliciously entertaining and creepy. Years after we last met him, Ash is now working in another dead end minimum wage job and is not exactly the legend the Deadites have pegged him as. After seducing a woman at a bar, he brings her home to his trailer and drunkenly pulls out the Necronomicon. After attempting to impress her, he begins reading passages from the book, and lo and behold he’s brought back the Deadites from the orifices of hell to make his life and humanity miserable all over again. The deadites are about as pissed off as ever, prompting them to corrupt and destroy everything in Ash’s life, and he’s inadvertently teamed up with two co-workers of his.
There’s Pablo, a cowardly but noble Hispanic young man, and Kelly, a ballsy young woman who detests Ash, but tags along with him on his mission when she learns the deadites might have harmed her family. There’s also a police officer who had a run in with a deadite, and is on the hunt for Ash suspecting he might be an infamous serial killer. As well, there’s also an enigmatic beautiful woman with ties to Ash’s past that begin to reveal themselves throughout the season. At a half hour and ten episodes for season one, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” has no time for filler, nor does it really spend any time meandering in to pointless sub-plots. When it wants to be scary it’s very scary, when it wants to throw blood at the screen, the blood pours by the buckets, and when it’s funny, it’s laugh out hysterical.
And yes, the writers give Ash so many one-liners, you’re going to find yourself quoting the show for weeks. The deadites are about as vicious and cold blooded as ever, eliminating characters left and right; especially the ones we think might be around for a while. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” sticks to the basics, while also giving us room to breathe and develops enemies and monsters that are completely out the ordinary and give the deadites much more dimension. Campbell is fantastic as Ash, never missing a beat and jumping in to the anti-hero’s skin as if he never actually left it. I wouldn’t identify myself as a hardcore fan of the “Evil Dead” series, but I think the series is still quite entertaining and I know enough to know that this series is what the fans have been clamoring for, for decades. Drink it up, fans. Hail to the king, baby.
Along with a fun holofoil cover, there are audio commentaries with many of the episodes, including “El Jefe,” “Bait,” “Books from Beyond,” “Brujo,” et al, with Executive Producer Rob Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago; as well there are some commentaries with Lucy Lawless, Creator/Executive Producer/Director Sam Raimi, and Co-Executive Producer Ivan Raimi. “Ash Inside the World” is a sixteen minute look at every episode with Craig DiGregoiro providing production tidbits, and nice footnotes to the various nuances of the episodes. “How to Kill A Deadite” is a two minute interview with Bruce Campbell who gives information about the deadites. Finally, there’s a promo for the show featuring the “Best of Ash.”