The trouble with the undead, aside from the obvious, is that they take themselves so seriously. On the whole, they have no sense of humor and everything is always about them. Most TV shows and films about the undead are the same way. They’re loaded with angst, gore and long, withering stares, but not a whole lot of laughs. So it is with the collective squee of fans everywhere that Ash Williams returns with chainsaw in — or rather as hand — to save the day.
In Ash vs. Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell reprises his role as the unwitting, yet inexplicably masterful monster killer from the cult horror films The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness. Sam Raimi, who wrote and directed the films, returns as executive producer and also directs the first episode. Producer Robert Tapert and Ivan Raimi (who co-wrote Army of Darkness) are also onboard. Basically, it’s a fan’s dream team come true, again.
Other beloved Evil Dead icons are back, too; namely, Ash’s boomstick (aka his gun), wooden hand, chainsaw and his butter-yellow Oldsmobile. And damn if they all don’t still work great. As for Ash, he’s older and maybe not that much wiser but, like his arsenal, he can still be counted on to do what he’s made to do. Namely, kick deadite butt.
The first episode opens 30 odd years after the films leave off and, by the looks of it, things are just going to get weirder. Within the first few minutes, Ash is having sloppy, wooden-hand butt-slapping sex with a woman in a restroom when she turns into a deadite and warns him that they’re coming for him. Ash rushes home to check on the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, the ancient book that started all the trouble in the first place. Suddenly, Ash remembers another recent debauched night when he read from the book to impress a woman, thus unwittingly unleashing another deadite plague.
This time around, Ash is joined by Pablo and Kelly (Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo), two of his co-workers from the Value Stop. These newbies are scruffy outsiders and perfect counterparts to Ash’s world-weary antihero. Pablo idolizes Ash from the start, calling him El Jefe and telling him he’s the one his grandfather the shaman predicted would stand up against evil. Kelly is smart, tough and sexy, and she sees Ash as nothing more than a creep until he saves her life. (What a difference a deadite makes.) The three fit together as misfits do and it’s impossible not to root for them.
Meanwhile, a young police officer named Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) and her partner are called to an abandoned house. Amanda already wins points for being smarter than the average horror genre character when she actually tries to turn on the lights in the dark and scary house. (It doesn’t work, but still Amanda is ahead of the game.) She battles a deadite and makes it out alive, which is more than can be said for her partner. Amanda’s troubles, however, are just beginning when she meets the mysterious Ruby Knowby played by the awesome Lucy Lawless. Ruby is hell-bent on killing deadites and finding Ash.
Ash vs. Evil Dead airs on Starz and has been described as a five-hour movie divided into 10 episodes. With its copious amounts of blood, gore, wisecracks and all-out mayhem, it might also be described as a hot mess. But what a lovable, addictive and fun mess it is. It might not be sophisticated television like The Returned or The Walking Dead, but Ash vs. Evil Dead is something they’ll never be: groovy.
Out of the Box is a biweekly column by VCReporter staff and contributors about television and streaming content.