Hail to the king baby! Halloween night saw the return of Ash Williams after a 30-year hiatus from fighting the deadites. Evil Dead fans have been clamoring for Bruce Campbell to pick up the chainsaw again since Army of Darkness rocked our worlds back in 1992. The 2013 Fede Alvarez directed reboot/sequel was very different tonally and seems to get a lot of hate from Evil Dead purists (I really enjoyed it but that’s another article). Starz has already renewed Ash vs Evil Dead for a second season so I’m extremely relieved to have had so much fun with the pilot episode.
You would expect Ash to be pretty messed up after going through all that’s happened to him… but you’d be wrong. He actually seems to be doing fine. It’s been 30 years since the events of the first two films (due to a legal issue, Army of Darkness isn’t mentioned… although creator Sam Raimi has hinted it is canon for the show). He’s got a pretty decent Airstream trailer, a bearded dragon named “Eli” to keep him company, a sweet ride and all the freedom a man could want. He’s still a stock boy, but I think he’s comfortable with that level of responsibility. He’s also still got the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the Book of the Dead. Ash has been safe with no signs of the deadites for all these years, keeping the book safely stashed away in his trailer. I’m not going to reveal here how the deadites return and find him, but it’s pretty damn funny and classic Ash.
This first episode is all about Ash realizing he can’t run anymore. His first instinct when things turn sour is to get out of Dodge. This is where his two new cohorts, Pablo and Kelly, come into play. Coworkers of Ash at the Value Stop, they need Ash to stick around as he is the only one who seems to know what is happening. Pablo seems to idolize him while Kelly is a very reluctant participant in the trio. Very little time is spent in this first episode showing the three of them together, but the setup is rewarding and I think it’s going to be a fun dynamic as the season progresses. We’re also introduced to Amanda, a police officer called to the scene of a disturbance who comes face to face with the deadites and begins to doubt her sanity as a result. There’s also a brief tease of Lucy Lawless’s character Ruby. Neither character interacts with Ash in this first episode although I’m sure they are important pieces of the puzzle.
I’ve read some complaints that this first episode looks like a TV show and different than the movies. Well… that’s because it IS a TV show. Raimi did a great job capturing the mayhem and gore we’ve come to love from the Evil Dead franchise. There is a good bit of gore utilizing good old-fashioned practical effects and some CGI. I know most Evil Dead fans want only practical effects but I understand the need for a little computer help here and there. This feels like a natural follow up to the last time we saw Ash. There’s a good sense of humor, a bit of slapstick physical comedy, plenty of Kandarian demons and a bucket full of blood. I’ve watched it a couple of times now and it definitely gives me hope for the rest of the season. Ash is back and I couldn’t be happier.