The Series (4/5)
1993's Army of Darkness bombed in theaters, but found a happy home life on video, DVD, and Blu-ray with new editions of the film coming out almost constantly. Outside of that the first 2 films in the Evil Dead cycle were in also in high home video popularity. Needless to say in the realm of horror Evil Dead was big business, so inevitably series creators Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell, whenever they did press, no matter what project they were doing the subject of an Evil Dead 4 would inevitably arise. Campbell would blow it off saying he's getting old, and Raimi would coddle fans saying they want to write it, but don't have the time.
After Spider-Man 3 bombed in the mid-2000's Sam Raimi returned to his horror roots with the comedy/horror film Drag Me to Hell. It FELT like an Evil Dead 4, even though it officially wasn't. Fans kept asking, and then on Twitter Bruce Campbell announced that there would not be an Evil Dead 4 but a remake of the first film. Well, that sure killed Evil Dead 4 in it's tracks. How many series manage to come back from the dead once they are remade?
It turns out this one.
22 years after Army of Darkness opened and failed in theaters. 22 years of fans asking for more of Bruce Campbell's Ash on the big screen we are finally treated to the Evil Dead sequel we have been waiting for. However, it would not be just a simple 2 hour movie, but in TV form, 10 episodes a half hour each on the Starz Network. This enables the creatives to keep up the violence the series was known for, while producing a glut of content to satisfy fans who have been waiting decades for just 90 more minutes of more Evil Dead.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead takes place 30 years after the events of the original trilogy (apparently Army of Darkness will get touched upon in Season 2). Ash in an attempt to impress a poetry loving young woman reads aloud to her passages from the Necronomicon which he has kept in his possession over the last 3 decades. This has brought the return of the deadites, and made him their main target having defeated them previously. Into this comes Ash's ValueMart co-workers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) who find themselves working with Ash to fight the evil creatures. On their trail is the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless), and police detective Amanda Fisher.
I was insanely nervous when this show was announced. First, I felt like it would have been better off a decade ago, at this point between all these years and the remake it felt too long, and too much has now happened. I am happy to report I was very very wrong. Ash Vs. Evil Dead actually manages to bring the Evil Dead franchise back in a new and exciting way. The creatives behind the show including Raimi, Campbell, Tapert, and showrunner Craig DiGregorio manage to strike an immediate tone that blends comedy and horror in a more nuanced way that brings it closer in tone to the 2nd Evil Dead film then to the overall more slapstick Army of Darkness.
The performances from the main cast are completely solid. Bruce Campbell, I believe could play Ash in his sleep, and has never fully retired from playing the part having done the role in video games in the years since Army of Darkness. Lucy Lawless offers a solid turn as Ruby the mysterious woman stalking Ash. Ray Santiago offers some interesting comic relief as Ash's sidekick Pablo.
Ash vs. Evil Dead has been described since its initial release as more like a 5 hour Evil Dead movie than a traditional episodic TV show, and I do get where viewers are coming from. That being said when trying to binge watch more than a few of these in a row, it does begin to feel a bit much. That being said when broken up into more manageable chunks, it is a fun blast, and an excellent return to form for the Evil Dead franchise. Bring on Season 2!
Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season 1 comes to Blu-ray from Starz in a quite solid 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. Everything here is solid for the most part, detail is excellent, colors though muted (except for red) are well reproduced, and blacks are deep.
Audio is presented with an English Dolby True-HD 7.1 track in English. The track is quite excellent with dialogue and score coming through clearly. There was solid separation of sound, and really nothing to complain about.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead has commentary tracks on every single episode. We also get look backs into the franchise in a few featurettes.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead is exactly what fans have been waiting decades for. The show brings Bruce Campbell back to his most iconic role in style. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, and has some solid extras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.