It has been well over two decades that we have waited for this event. No not the new Star Wars movie, but the return of Ash Williams and his nearly life-long ordeal with the Dark Ones. The first season of Ash vs Evil Dead concluded this past weekend and if you’re a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, chances are you wept (tears of blood), not because it wasn’t worthy of its predecessors, but because the 10 episode season came to a close and you have to wait another nine months until its glorious return. Suffice it is to say we here at Film Dumpster were insanely excited when the series was announced to debut on the Starz network. Sure we had our reservations, how would this fit in the cannon of films, would it adapt well as a television series, did the gang who created it (Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tappert) have the same passion for it as they did in the past? Well any concern we had were quickly laid to rest upon the season premiere. It was everything we had hoped it would be and more. Hell, Starz was so confident in the series that they renewed it for a second season even before the first episodeeven aired back in October.
The series starts with our beloved boneheaded Deadite killer hiding from his past and the world in a ransacked trailer. Of course his quest for booze and young women got him to dust off the one book that has haunted him his entire adult life and the Deadite plague is once again released upon the world. His mismanaged intentions force him to break out the old chainsaw and his trusty boom stick. This time around he is joined by two young protégés, (Pedro and Kelly) both Co-Workers of the second rate electronics store he works for. The trio hit the road in a blood soaked quest to lay the evil to rest once and for all.
All ten episodes worked towards an amazingly hilarious, over the top gore infested finale. One thing that is immediately noticeable as you begin to watch the series is the painstaking detail to give Evil Dead fans the return they have been waiting for. It is obvious the creators of the series not only hold it close to their imaginative hearts, but that they have all grown leaps and bounds as artists. Bruce Campbell eases right back into the role that he last donned in the early 90’s, of course he’s older, less fit, but definitely not any wiser. Campbell seems to be having a blast reprising the titular character of the series, delivering smarmy one liners like the pro that he is. Of course when it comes to kicking undead evil there is no one else who does it with such skill and bravado. Campbell is the lynch pin of this Franchise and there is nothing lazy in his performance; it is obvious he is having fun and truly is the Star of the show. He shares a great amount of screen time with his two co-stars, Ray Santiago (Pedro) and Dana Delorenzo (Kelly). Both these new faces bring a much needed balance to Ash’s dimwitted badassery. Pedro is the conscience of the crew and worships his mentor. While Kelly takes the reigns in the brains department. These young fresh faces bring a balance to the lead character and are given plenty of opportunity to shine. Both young actors handle their respective roles with a sense of humor and fanfare. These characters, as well as Lucy Lawless’ Ruby, the mysterious drifter hot on Ash’s tail, are able to give the series fun and interesting sub plots and detail that an ongoing television series desperately needs. Let’s face it, 10 episodes of Ash being chased in the woods by underdeveloped co-stars would have worn thin quickly.
Although Rami himself only directed the first episode, it was obvious that both himself and the rest of the original crew were very much a part of the writing and producing of the show. Of course having different writers and directors for the episodes makes one wonder if the tone and heart of the original would stay intact, this is particularly true when you have such an imaginative filmmaker as Rami. The truth is they took great care in choosing their writers and directors for each of the remaining episodes, and show runner Greg DeGregario was hands down the right choice to oversee this ship. It all feels cohesive and every scene drips with humor, gore and an utter love of the franchise. The final episode was written by DeGregario and he nails the culminating chaos as the conclusion of the season comes to head in the same place it all started, that damn cabin. How they chose to end the final episode is not only true to Evil Dead form, but keeps the gates wide open for next season. Now all we have to do is wait and Hail to the King Baby!!!