I could go on forever about the long gestating plans for a canonical Evil Dead 4. I could talk about the near impossible feat of meeting the expectations of the legions of fans who have waited well over two decades to see their favorite bumbling, boomstick-wielding hero don his famous chainsaw hand once again…OR I could talk about how Raimi, Campbell and Starz have quite literally pulled off a genre miracle.
So I’ll start off with saying that Ash vs. Evil Dead is much more than just a love letter to its fans. What IT is is a dirty, nasty glory-hole romp in the back of the roadside adult bookstore on your birthday. It’s not just the Evil Dead you’ve been waiting for, it’s the Evil Dead you were afraid to ask for: a gleefully, bloodily sweaty, dirty Evil Dead that steams up the windows and leaves you staggering back in for last call. It’s the Evil Dead we deserve.
The first episode literally cannot wait to get Campbell in front of the camera, and we are instantly, gratuitously treated to our first glimpse of the older, unlikely hero that quickly and confidently tells us everything we need to know. And the tone of the reintroduction is PITCH-PERFECT as an aging (and still clueless) Ash embarks on a night of debauchery, hitting last call just in time to score a skanky little bar-fly whose mid-coitus deadite transformation reminds us that there are worse things in Michigan bathrooms than recycled urinal cakes and penicilin-resistant venereal diseases. Ash shakes off the supernatural vision enough to finish and we soon learn that the promise of yet another tryst is exactly what started the deadly cycle to repeat in the first place (again, Raimi and crew remind us just how easily they can put their Evil Dead gloves back on as the comedy here to reintroduce the summoning powers of the necronomicon is spot-on “hapless hero”).
The action and locales shift numerous times as we are introduced to a duo of federal agents who get a crash course in Deadites 101 (our introduction to Jill Marie Jones as Agent Amanda Fisher) leaving one psychologically scarred and questioning her sanity, and the other, well…a little less than alive, two of Ash’s co-workers Pablo & Kelly (inspired casting of Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo which adds the perfect schtick to Campbell’s boom), and a mysterious stranger who undoubtedly has a bigger role as the series progresses (Lucy Lawless as Ruby [Nobi]). It really is the introduction of these characters that broadens the scope of the initial episode and helps to put Ash in a world where again we see he is truly never in his element until the chainsaw is brandished and the broomstick starts smokin’. This journey is of course peppered with such awesome Evil Dead faire as demonic trailer park residents, a possessed baby doll and of course lots and lots of the red stuff.
It is worth noting too that Evil Dead’s transition to television has not stopped the flow of crimson either, and we see that the flavor of the beloved trilogy is strongly present in the geysers of blood that Ash and his compatriots have to wade through to reach their destinations. It’s that distinct flavor of the original films that gleefully permeates every scene, not just decadently paying homage to a universe whose revisitation is long overdue, but one that has aged with fantastic sentiment with greyed temples, a painfully tight girdle, and discount drugstore aftershave. A flavor that, as I type this, will officially hit the palette of fans well into a just-announced second season, and THAT could not make me happier. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres this Halloween (9PM Saturday, October 31st 2015) only on STARZ!!!