Ash Vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season
Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless
It’s funny and silly and visually inventive…
Weaponised nostalgia truly kicked into high gear in 2015 with the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The film was essentially a soft reboot for the franchise that relied far more on fan recognition and callbacks than it did solid writing or original storytelling. For many fans, it was all about the moment when Han Solo and Chewbacca stepped onto the Millennium Falcon and Han intoned, “Chewie, we’re home.”
But 2015 featured another project that could have easily become empty fan service but instead rose above. That project was Ash Vs Evil Dead.
Ash Vs Evil Dead takes place about thirty years after cinema’s most bizarre trilogy, with smart-arse demon-killing, sorta-hero, Ash (Bruce Campbell) living in a trailer park, drinking too much, and having sex with as many women as he possibly can. Before you can say, “Klaatu Barada Nikto”, Ash has accidentally let loose the demons once more, because he was reading from the Necronomicon to impress a hot goth chick. This bit of accidental, potentially world-ending idiocy sets the tone for Ash Vs Evil Dead, which is highly comical but also incredibly gory, with “Holy shit, nothing went this far in the movies” levels of splatter, easily comparable to The Walking Dead.
This juxtaposition of farcical and visceral feels fresh, especially in the televised arena, and the first season beautifully illustrates Ash’s baffle-witted, occasionally heroic arc, and introduces us to new companions, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo).
Ash Vs Evil Dead’s first season has many highlights. The Sam Raimi-directed pilot, “El Jefe”, for instance, is an all-time classic. There are a couple of dud episodes in the middle when it seems like the showrunners are struggling with the odd, 30-minute episode length, but the first season ends on a high note with the three-episode arc, “Ashes To Ashes”, “Bound In Flesh”, and “The Dark One.”
There’s a moment right at the end of Episode 7, “Fire In The Hole”, where Ash’s severed hand crawls towards the iconic cabin from The Evil Dead series that’s basically the “Chewie, we’re home” moment for horror fans. But Ash Vs Evil Dead does more than retread the past, adding new threats and fresh takes on old characters. It’s funny and silly and visually inventive, while Bruce Campbell absolutely owns the screen as his most famous character, Ashley Williams.
The Blu-ray offers all ten episodes on two discs, with unmissable audio commentary for every episode, and a bunch of fun mini documentaries that feature extra splatter and hijinks. Basically Ash Vs Evil Dead is a wonderful, unexpected gift, and is absolutely essential for even casual fans of the series. A groovy collection indeed.