For over 20 years, ever since the release of Sam Raimi’s “Army of Darkness,” it has been the hope of millions of fans that we would one day get to see Ash Williams don his chainsaw once more to face off against the evil deadites. Most assumed that Raimi and his collaborators would eventually cook up another film at some point (ignoring the dreadful remake in the process) that would be the answer to our prayers, but little did we know that something completely different was in the works. When it was announced that it would in fact be a TV show (aptly titled “Ash vs Evil Dead”), there was no doubt a little skepticism from even the biggest fans. Could a show contain the craziness, the carnage, and over-the-top humor that the great films had so gleefully put on display, or would it just be an effort that was too little, too late? As it turns out, there was absolutely no reason to be concerned in the least.
Picking up 30 years after his battle with the deadites, we find Ash (Bruce Campbell) living in a trailer park and working at a ValueShop department store. We soon learn that he recently had a little get together with a woman in which they got high and read from the Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead), which awoke the ancient evil that he fought all those years ago. Meanwhile, we also follow a detective, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), who comes across Ash’s demon-possessed girlfriend, forcing Amanda to kill her and her possessed partner in the process.
As the detective continues to investigate, Ash begins to realize just what he’s done, causing him to make the decision to get out of town as soon as possible. However, he is soon confronted by his co-workers, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), who believe that he’s involved in the strange events occurring around them. Eventually, they convince Ash to let them join him, resulting in the three of them hitting the road together in an effort to put the evil down once more.
“Ash vs Evil Dead” was indeed the answer to the prayers of those who had been waiting for decades to see the continued adventures of Ash. The show, co-created by Sam Raimi (director/co-writer of the original “The Evil Dead” trilogy) takes everything that fans loved about the original films and translates it perfectly to the small screen, including its over-the-top violence, its dark sense of humor, and, of course, the ever-charming character of Ash Williams, played with the usual gusto by B-movie legend Bruce Campbell.
As I mentioned previously in my review of Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition of “Army of Darkness,” one of the things that made the original trilogy so incredible was how it was able to derive a lot of its humor from its excessive and often gratuitous nature. Basically, it would be so intense at times that you couldn’t help but have a big grin on your face as you waited to see how things could get any crazier. The show brings with it many such scenes, from a bloodbath encounter with deadites at a restaurant to this season’s gory climax at the good old cabin in the woods, that will likely have you chuckling not only at the zaniness, but also at the fact that it’s delivering everything that we’d hoped we would get with the next chapter in this story.
This also includes the return of the irreplaceable Bruce Campbell to his iconic role. As always, he plays Ash with a fascinating mix of heroism, selfishness, suaveness, and old-fashioned grit. This is not even to mention the humor that he brings to the part with every line-reading of this unpredictable character, which also gives him a great sense of mysteriousness about him as you try to figure out just what it is he’s going to do next. One thing’s for sure, this never would have worked if Raimi and co. hadn’t been able to get Campbell back, and as we can see throughout the show, a large part of what makes this work as marvelously as it does is simply due to his presence.
All of this results in a show that gives the fans everything they could possibly want in a new iteration of “The Evil Dead.” It’s compelling, funny, gory, entertaining, and just a damn good time. What’s going to be rather interesting down the line is seeing whether or not they’re going to be able to keep the premise going. One of the main concerns about it being a television show in the first place was the fact that they were going to have to stretch it out into several episodes (ten per season in this case), but thus far, it doesn’t seem to have affected the show in any negative way, nor has it dissuaded the showrunners from venturing forward for a second season. I, like millions of others, can’t wait to see where it goes from here, for if it’s able to keep up the same high level of quality that’s been set by the first season, then it’s sure to be another bloody great addition to the series.
“Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.78:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The image is perfectly sharp and clear throughout all ten episodes, ensuring that you get every little bit of gory detail. The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio is equally fantastic, giving you all of the dialogue, score, and sound effects in top-notch quality. Overall, the fans will definitely be pleased with the great treatment that the show has received.
Audio Commentaries: Commentaries with cast and crew are featured on all ten episodes. There’s a lot of goofing around, particularly when it comes to the cast tracks, but they do contain some interesting behind the scenes info.
Ash: Inside the World (16 Minutes): A great compilation of behind the scenes featurettes that aired with certain episodes during the season.
How to Kill a Deadite (3 Minutes): A very brief featurette that has Bruce Campbell and fans explaining how to kill deadites.
Best of Ash (1 Minute): A short collage of scenes featuring Ash.
“Ash vs Evil Dead” is exactly the kind of continuation of the classic series that fans have been dreaming about for over 20 years. With its over-the-top style, twisted sense of humor, charming cast, and a compelling storyline, it’s an unabashedly entertaining show that takes everything we love about the original films and translates it to the small screen, leaving us with a show that will get you hooked from the first episode and have you hanging on right up to the cliffhanger finale.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting Tuesday.
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