Thirty seven or so years ago, a group of friends set out to make a horror movie, none of them realizing that their work would become one of the most famously infamous cult classics of all time. With a budget of little more than $8 million (which is chump change in the film industry), Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and B-movie icon Bruce Campbell pulled together a cast of five (including Bruce himself, and undocumented cameos by both Raimi and Tapert) young actors, a handful of people for the film crew, make-up master Tom Sullivan and, together, they made The Evil Dead.
Anyone who knows anything about the cult horror scene is familiar with this film and its two sequels. Opened in a very select number of theaters, The Evil Dead was released unrated, due to the fact that the only rating the MPAA wanted to give it was an X.
We'll delve past the known and beloved for now, though, focusing on Ash Vs. the Evil Dead, the new Starz original show.
When I heard there was finally going to be new Evil Dead material (FINALLY), I, like so much of the rest of the horror nerds out there, went immediately into a fit of delighted and psychopathic glee. After all these years, we finally had something to look forward to beyond all those Evil Dead 4/Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash/Army of Darkness 2 rumors. Once the bliss wore off and the anticipation for the show set in, though, everyone had the same thought running through their minds: Please don't ruin it for us!!!
Aware of the fanbase and their demands, Sam Rami, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell decided to give it a go, and give the fans what they had been longing for these long years, and we now have the show.
Now, to break down and "criticize..."
As the fans know, Evil Dead 2 was shy of an actual sequel, and more of a hastened remake of the first; meaning, the entire first movie was remade and nullified in the opening 12 minutes of the second movie, and new characters were added. Army of Darkness pretty much completely ignored the fact that the first movie existed, focusing solely on Evil Dead 2's make-up stylings and humorous innuendo.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead has likewise done its own summarized remake of those first two films together, so far ignoring Army of Darkness as completely as it ignored the original film.
Through Ash telling Pablo of the events that transpired on the night 30 years before, we learn that in this storyline, all 4 of Ash's companions from the first film were friends, and Linda from the second film (not the first, although her character was shown in the flashback sequence) was Ash's love at the time.
As for the here and now of the show, the pilot introduced us to new characters that we can excitedly look forward to seeing more of, as well as an untapped sea of potential deadites in the civilized (compared to the cabin) surroundings of the show's locale.
The show kicked off with Ash getting out for a night on the town with a stranger in a bar. While having sex with the woman, Ash is given a message from beyond: "We're coming for you!"
After leaving the bar (but not before finishing things with the lady from the bar), Ash returns home to make sure the Necronomicon (a new version that colsely resembles the book from Army of Darkness) is safe in a footlocker, only to remember a stoned and drunken joyride through a translated section of the book (you guessed it) that appears to have brought the Evil back to finish him off.
The show cuts to a house, with no lights shining inside, and a pair of detectives that are following up a tip about a woman screaming. They find a dead body and a woman that becomes a deadite. Detective John Carson is killed by the demon, but the partner, Amanda, survives the attack. She moves to check on Carson, but discovers that he, too, has become a deadite, and takes him out as well.
We cut back to find Ash looking for help in translating the rest of the passages from the book, in hopes of stopping what is coming. As he asks a few favors of a neighbor of his, Ash is presented with a second vision of the dead, and a second message: "We are near. Your time comes again!"
Shaken, Ash goes to work in hope that he can pick up his check early and leave town before all Hell breaks loose. While at work, Ash's unofficial shadow, Pablo comes into the mix, as well as a new cashier, Kelly. Pablo idolizes Ash, while Kelly is put off by his attempts at charm.
The focus drops back to Amanda, who we find faces problems at work due to the questionable events at the house. With her mind on overdrive, Amanda believes she glimpses a deadite at a diner, but a second look shows a normal person, driving Amanda deeper into doubting what happened. A stranger in the diner gives Amanda a piece of mysterious advice and then leaves.
As Amanda thinks over things, Ash is attacked by a doll possessed by the evil presence, but Pablo steps in and helps Ash with the problem.
Afterward, Ash fills Pablo in on his past, revealing that it has been 30 years since the cabin, and that the evil has found him again. After the story is told, Ash leaves the store in an attempt to outrun the evil.
As Ash leaves, Kelly finds that her dead mother has returned home, and she and Pablo leave work to try to help Kelly's dad, but not before the evil attacks at the store, consuming the manager.
Briefly, Amanda is shown back at the house, confirming the events that happened the night before, and focus is once again directed at the trailer park where Ash lives. Pablo brings Kelly to Ash to ask for help with her dad, but before anything can happen, the evil finds them, and ravages the trailer park, turning its residents into deadites that relentlessly attack the trio.
It is in this moment that Ash once more takes a stand against the evil, picking up the boomstick and strapping on the chainsaw. The show ends here, leaving much to be explained.
The show lives up to the witticisms that only Bruce can deliver with horror levels that reach those of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, but falls short of the original. The deadites are Evil Dead 2/AoD level as well, but considering the lack of restraint that caused the less horrific makeup and blood in the films, it is a bit of a letdown that the more gory makeup of the original deadites was passed by.
Original Makeup Effects
Current Makeup Effects
While the show does move at a steady pace with few useless segments (the 30 second clip of Amanda confirming what happened seemed almost pointless), it does live up to the second and third films' reputations. The soundtrack for the show could have been used more to accentuate the horror; the surfer music at the episode's finale battle should seriously have been reconsidered, in this writer's opinion.
Hopefully the crew can find a way to continue the good work, the only recommended improvements being along the horror aspect of the situation.