Jill Marie Jones
It’s finally here. Nearly 35 years after they released the original film, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have returned to what initially brought them to the table, the Evil Dead franchise. Fans have been clamoring for another adventure with Ashley J. Williams ever since the release of Army Of Darkness in the early 1990s. There have been comics and crossovers galore with the character of Ash, arguably none bigger than the much hyped Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash comic series. But nothing would be able to compare to seeing the Chin himself step back into the role that made him famous. A few years ago, a remake of Evil Dead was announced, seemingly putting the final nail in the coffin of any Evil Dead 4 hopes. But then somehow, it was announced that Campbell would return to the role of Ash, in a new TV series entitled Ash Vs. Evil Dead. And not only was Campbell back, but brothers Sam and Ivan Raimi would be producing and writing, with producer Rob Tapert also returning to the franchise that made them all famous. But would the confines of television prevent the team from truly being able to get across what Evil Dead needed to be?
I can wholeheartedly say after viewing the first episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead, that it is literally everything I ever wanted it to be. And that is coming from a die hard Evil Dead fan. One of my favorite movie memories was viewing a 35MM print of the original film with the entire cast minus Bruce Campbell, in a grindhouse style setting. The original innovators of the splatstick genre are back, and they are back with a vengeance.
The episode begins with us catching up with everyone’s favorite Deadite slayer, Ashley J. Williams (Bruce Campbell) who has apparently been hiding out from the events in the cabin back 30 plus years ago. He starts out by getting himself all ready to go out by wearing a corset to make himself look thinner, then heads out to a bar to try and get himself some. Using a story about losing his hand saving a boy stuck on train tracks, he partakes in a bathroom tryst which results in him having a Deadite vision. We then discover that while smoking joints with another female companion who likes poetry, Ash, in his infinite wisdom, reads from the Necronomicon, allowing the Deadites to finally rediscover him and come for their revenge.
In a separate storyline, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) and her partner Carson (Mike Edward, who is a doppelganger for a young Clancy Brown) are investigating a domestic dispute, which just happens to be at the home of Lucy (Marissa Stott), the girl who was with Ash when he read from the Book Of The Dead. Turns out she has been possessed and become a Deadite herself, and this results in Carson being killed and becoming possessed himself, leaving Fisher to have to finish everyone off. It becomes obvious later on that she will hold Ash responsible for all of this and eventually the two storylines are going to intermingle.
Back with Ash, he decides to skip town, but has to wait until he can get his paycheck from ValueStop, his employer (I’m guessing S-Mart just didn’t last unfortunately). At work, we meet Pablo (Ray Santiago) who has somehow become convinced that Ash is one of the greatest men who has ever lived, and looks up to him strongly. Pablo has also just gotten his hot neighbor Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) a job, and after she shuts Ash down, he decides to just go ahead and get out of dodge. Of course, we get a great scene with a little doll which is a throwback to both the fight with his own evil hand in Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn and the mini-Ash scene from Army Of Darkness. After Pablo helps Ash, he tries to convince him that his Shaman Uncle once told him there would be a man known as “El Jefe” and Pablo is now convinced that Ash is that man. Of course, Ash wants no part of it and just wants to go back into hiding.
The first episode culminates in a scene in Ash’s trailer home which is chock full of blood, guts, humor and Ash being reunited with both his trusty boomstick and chainsaw hand. The scene plays out exactly how any Evil Dead fan would want it to, and to go into much more detail would be ruining the experience.
I went into the show with tempered expectations, not wanting to see one of my all-time favorite film series become tarnished in any way, but if the rest of this season (and the recently confirmed second season) is even half as great as this episode, then we are in for one hell of a fun time. In terms of horror on television, I just don’t see how it can get better than this. Everything just works, and I am thoroughly excited for the rest of this season, and I hope you will all join me weekly as I will be looking at each episode.
Buckle up fellow Deadite fans, we’re in for one hell of a ride.