Having the men behind the original Evil Dead trilogy come together to create another project had always seemed like a pipe dream, especially after the remake of Evil Dead made its debut in 2013. However, we live in an age where things never really die; they just lay dormant until enough fan support convinces the people who finance things that they can make more money off a property, and it suddenly comes back as a revival or reboot or sequel. We all know some of them are better than others, but for the most part, they’re bad. That said, I’m pleased to report Ash Vs Evil Dead actually surpassed my expectations on my initial viewing, and managed to keep a rather simple concept entertaining and funny throughout a relatively short run time.
In case you’re not a fan or are otherwise unawares of the Evil Dead trilogy, our hero is a buffoon named Ash. 35 years ago, he went to a cabin in the woods with some friends and read from a book called the Necronomicon, which unleashed unspeakable forces and possessed or killed everyone…until part 2, which is a partial remake of the original (or you can pretend Ash is actually dumb enough to take a second girlfriend to the cabin where his friends were slaughtered) but introduces the more iconic elements of the series; the sawed-off shotgun, chainsaw hand, and groovy one liners. Army of Darkness sees our hero trapped in time, fighting an army of the undead in a swashbuckling adventure-comedy that can’t officially be referenced in the series due to rights issues.
Ash Vs Evil Dead is the first season in what will hopefully be many more installments chronicling the (mis)adventures of our moronic hero as he tries vainly to undo the damage he’s done (again) by releasing hordes of the undead upon our world. He’s not alone this time, however, as he’s joined by fellow co-workers turned sidekicks Pablo and Kelly. Both are successful in bringing out previously unseen sides of Ash as they both manage to be punchlines and foils for various jokes, all the while pointing out how dumb Ash actually is and how he’s somehow fallen ass-backwards into saving the world.
Admittedly, the plot is incredibly thin, but it works. All it is designed to do is get you from point A to point B in as little time as possible so the requisite amount of gore can be thrown about and the jokes can be cracked. It is largely a road trip show, with each episode seeing our heroes in a new location before moving forward towards their goal, with Lucy Lawless’ intriguing as hell character Ruby hot on their heels as they try to eliminate the Deadite threat.
The show does a great job managing the balance of horror and comedy, and while I appreciated the other various attempts to capture the Evil Dead vibe over the years (be it in comic book or video game form) nothing felt right until now. Of the ten episodes, only the pilot is an hour long, with the remainder being 30 minutes, making the show great for a Sunday afternoon binge session or a quick and easy laugh before bedtime. With Bruce Campbell’s rapid fire dialogue delivery, repeat viewings will almost be mandatory to attempt to catch every ridiculous line Ash manages to spit out. It doesn’t even hurt that each episode has a commentary track. While some of the commentaries are better than others, it’s still a treat to hear Sam Raimi bust Campbell’s chops just because he can.
Three other featurettes accompany the set (Inside the World of Ash, How to Kill a Deadite, and Best of Ash) which are all entertaining in their own right…I would have enjoyed a little more comprehensive behind the scenes footage, more info about each episode, that sort of stuff. All in all, it’s a better package than I originally expected, and with Season 2 not far off, Starz/Anchor Bay might even be able to convince me to double dip on a complete series package at some point in the future if the extras are there. The audio and visual presentations are both excellent. It’d be really difficult to mess up a modern television show shot on HD, but stranger things have happened, I suppose.
For those inclined, we’ve got two packaging options; the top representing the sweet Best Buy exclusive metal pack packaging and the bottom being the standard packaging for everywhere else with a lenticular slipcover. Extra special props to fellow Nerd Mentality review crew and podcaster Dustin Lesiuk for the shots of the metal pack.
Check it out for some solid horror comedy goodness.