Hollywood has attempted to revive the Evil Dead series once before with a remake of the original movie. While it certainly lived up to its predecessors’ level of gore and violence, it lacked the campy B-movie comedy (and the slapstick protagonist) that made the series become a cult hit. The latest attempt, the television series Ash vs. Evil Dead, perfectly combines scares and laughs to both stay true to the original trilogy and bring it into the modern world.
The series picks up 30 years after Evil Dead, where we find our hero Ash much the same as we left him. He works at ValueStop hauling boxes, lives in a trailer park, and is still the cowardly douchebag whose wisecracks and bravado we can’t help but find appealing.
Much like in the trilogy, Ash’s problems with the Deadites are again caused by his own stupidity whereupon he starts seeing visions of monsters in the faces of neighbors and one-night stands alike. Although they were defeated before, it seems the Deadites have been waiting for their chance to find Ash and kill him once and for all.
Unlike the originals, where Ash is the last man standing after a bloodbath, he now has two sidekicks to believe in him and encourage him to do the right thing. Pablo and Kelly are his coworkers and serve different purposes: Pablo is naïve and believes Ash will become a destroyer of evil while Kelly knows exactly what Ash is about but expects him to be a better person. Even in the first episode they make Ash go through a change, however minor, and I look forward to seeing what else they can get him to do.
At the same time, a policewoman, played by Jill Marie Jones (Girlfriends, Sleepy Hollow) is left to clean up part of the mess Ash has made when she has to face down a Deadite. Not much is given away about her storyline, but a mysteriously knowledgeable Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus) does stop by to deliver some cryptic words.
Fans of the movies will love Ash vs. Evil Dead. It’s clear that a lot of time and work went into its creation. Sam Raimi, the creator or the original trilogy, co-wrote and directed the first episode. While he will not direct anymore episodes this season, he is still involved in writing and producing. Bruce Campbell has returned as Ash, and his natural charm and clear love for the character show through in every action. It is due in large part to Campbell’s delivery that we cannot help but cheer for Ash despite his obvious personality flaws.
In addition, the practical effects and make-up have really been updated to modern standards. The Deadites are genuinely creepy, and the show’s scares allow for some badass action from the cast while still leaving time for jokes. The computer generated effects leave something to be desired, but it just adds to the atmosphere.
New fans might be worried about coming in with no history, but part of the movies’ charm is that they don’t really have a set timeline, and neither does the show. Add in the brief overview of the first film in this episode and a general knowledge of the “reading strange texts out loud” horror trope, and I think new fans will have no problem catching on quickly.
I’m looking forward to seeing Ash grow over the course of the series. While his personality is part of his appeal, it’s gonna take more than false confidence and avoidance tactics to defeat an army of Deadites.
Look for Ash vs. Evil Dead Saturdays at 9PM on STARZ.