Trying to explain the majesty of Ash vs. Evil Dead to a “non-initiate” is like trying to explain New York style strawberry swirl cheesecake to a man who thinks dessert is a saltine cracker with a drizzle of sugar on it; you sorta have to “be there”. For those of us hip deep in salty one-liners and boomsticks, the show practically is its own sub-culture and probably one of the best surprises for horror fans in years. It was with a little bit of concern then that reports of the showrunner (Craig DiGregorio)leaving after creative differences with producers started to surface along with the eventual news of the October premiere being pushed to February. Usually trouble at home spells trouble for the fans and many of us thought this regime change was spelling an uncertain future for our beloved Ghost Beaters after just two short seasons.
So we waited for what seemed like forever till the February premiere (tomorrow now for most of you), holding our breath that what we all loved would be back in force, creative differences (DiGregorio now replace with franchise alum Mark Verheiden – he partnered with Campbell on My Name is Bruce and wrote Dark Horse’s Evil Dead comic adaptation) aside. Let’s all collectively exhale as I can now report that Ash and company have things well under control. The third season opener is not only testament to the show’s longevity but shows that there might just be some more oil in the machinery this time as jokes, gore and classic Evil Dead elements are blended seamlessly, resulting in something for fans to be pretty excited about.
The opener shows Ash celebrating the opening of his own hardware and pornography store (yes, you heard me right), complete with Pablo selling Fish and Chips (the latter an allusion to his computer skills) on the sidewalk outside to hungry customers. Gone are the doubts of the Elk Grove citizens after the events at the end of the last season as Ash is now a local celebrity. It’s a quick cut to the unwitting discovery of the Necronomicon and things start going to hell pretty quickly after that. The major events of the premiere have been outlined enough in the trailers that we don’t need to go into too much more detail here. The reveal of Ash’s secret progeny was known to fans for months so the bigger questions here have revolved around the shows return to form after a changing of the guard.
The answer to most of those questions can be answered with a resounding and confident, “yes, yes, omg, yes”. The jokes, which are decidedly Evil Dead seem a little tighter this season in both frequency and delivery and had us laughing out loud on multiple occasions during the screening. Campbell is, as always, firmly nestled in the character but it was the moments of camaraderie that seemed a little more candid this time around. Looks exchanged between Pablo and Ash are the genuine exchanges of friends this time around and it translates VERY well to the screen when its captured. So, sentiment aside, just HOW Evil Dead is the Evil Dead this season? How bout a possessed school mascot and a knock down drag out in a high school music room that proves that music doesn’t always soothe the savage beast, sometimes you have to carve its head into thinly cleaved slices…WITH A FUCKING HARP!!! So yes, Ash is back and the vengeance is much, MUCH appreciated. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres Sunday February 25th only on Starz.