Like many of you out there, I’ve started watching more hours of TV series/seasons than I have movies over the past few years. As some say, it’s the golden era of television, with strong and impactful stories told across the long form medium that is television. I’ve watched and caught up (and am still catching up in the case of Sopranos) on a number of great series the past few months, so I’m hoping to write a short little write up for each of those. The good thing is because I’ve had so many shows on the backlog, it becomes easier to filter out the shit, as I can see others reviews and public reaction to these shows.
I need to start somewhere, so I’m going to start with the best. Ash vs Evil Dead. This is the best show ever. But I am biased. Evil Dead 2 is my favourite movie and has been since 2001 (at the time, I was a late bloomer). It is the perfect mix of horror and slapstick comedy. The franchise solidified Bruce Campbell as a cult hero of sorts. Ash vs Evil Dead continues in the spirit of the Evil Dead series, and expands on the lore and universe we already knew.
Thirty years later and a few pounds heavier, we follow Ash as he lives a mundane life of working at a department store, getting wasted at local watering hole and shacking up with the local broads. He now lives in a trailer park, amongst other knuckle dragging life forms. On one particular drunken binge, Ash, in an effort to impress one of the aforementioned local broads, brings her back to his trailer where they both recite some incantations out of the Necronomicon – the book of the dead. STUPID! They unknowingly summon the evil spirits who once again take possession of everyone around him, in attempt to finally kill off Ash Williams, our hero and saviour.
As the season continues we journey with Ash and some of his new friends. There is Pablo, a young latino who worked with Ash at the department store, and Kelly, a young female that Pablo’s got the hots for. Together the band are on a journey to put to rest the evil that Ash accidentally brought back to life! Expect zaniness and blood and guts along the way!
One thing to note is because of some rights issue regarding the Army of Darkness (the third Evil Dead movie in the franchise), they don’t really reference that movie, save for the fact that Ash currently works at a local store. We’re shown clips throughout the season, but they all reference the first two movies.
The new band.
Going in, I had some trepidation as I was afraid they’d ruin such an iconic character. However, everything about the series works! It’s still the smart mouth, chainsaw wielding, evil fighting Ash that we know and love. But aside from Ash, what makes the season work is the chemistry he has between his new friends Pablo and Kelly. It’s risky changing a dynamic that was tried, tested and true, however, in this case, I think it paid off. The new characters play off of Ash so well and none are annoying (and you just know in another movie, they could be). Each brings some sensibility to balance Ash, while adding their own sort of comedic wits, but never to such a degree that it overshadows him. They are a cohesive unit to the point where the few times they teased breaking up, it made me feel sad for the characters.
I’m grateful that they stuck with practical effects and not just CG! There are some CG, but it is predominantly practical and man, some of the effects are gross!!! And it’s great! Probably the funnest scene was in the first episode as Ash battles a possessed toy doll at the retail store. This fight will be a future classic!
I also loved the licensed music they chose for the season. It really emphasizes the FEEL of the 80s even though the show takes place in present times.
One problem I did have with the show is that I felt at least with the earlier episodes in the season, they didn’t give Ash as much dialogue as they did one-liners. It felt like they were trying to get over new lines instead of having him talk normally. Maybe I got used to it as the season progressed, but it felt like that problem largely went away in later episodes.
Apart from the season opener and finale, each episode runs less than 30 minutes, so you get quick hits! And actually, it works really well with its runtime! So much, to the point that I wished the Walking Dead were shorter sub-30 minute episodes. It made binging the season really fast.
Friends, if you love horror and if you love the Evil Dead, please do watch Ash vs Evil Dead! It is a good time for all! Until next time, later evil deadite geeks!