26th Oct2018

‘Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete Series’ Blu-ray Review

by Paul Metcalf

ash-evil-dead-series-blu

For horror fans, especially the ones who love Evil Dead, there has always been the dream of seeing Bruce Campbell return in another film. Yet with the Evil Dead remake by Fede Alvarez hope was somewhat lost… That was until the announcement that Ash vs Evil Dead, a television series based on the original trilogy, was coming.

Bringing back Bruce Campbell as Ash, and with the involvement of Sam and Ivan Raimi it was something of a dream come true for fans. That is of course, if they didn’t take a mis-step and ruin the big return of such a favourite character. Thankfully this isn’t the case, and Ash vs Evil Dead is something very special. And, for me, the fact that Lucy Lawless has been included in the cast just seals the deal. I’m a big Evil Dead fan, and I loved Xena too so the reunion of Lawless and Campbell was a pretty big deal. What is an added bonus is the fact they are used right. Ash is back, and Campbell plays the part well, including the fact that he and the character have aged. The fact that the show is set thirty years after the original events in the cabin allow for this. Even though he has aged though, he is still the “superhero” the world needs against the Deadites.

What makes Ash vs Evil Dead work is the chemistry not only between the actors but also the chemistry with the audience. The show not only shows respect for the original films but also knows its horror and has plenty of references. There is a huge amount of pandering to the fans, but this is a good thing. For Ash vs Evil Dead to work, it has to bring back the gore, it has to have the humour back and it has to have the confidence to survive the new age of horror, and this is what the show does well. Very well.

After a barnstorming introduction in the first season, Ash vs Evil Dead‘s second season sees Ash (Campbell), Pablo (Ray Santiago), and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) in Jacksonville and enjoying the truce that has apparently been formed. However that “truce” doesn’t last long and with the return of the Deadites to Ash’s life though it looks like Ruby (Lucy Lawless) is up to her own tricks and Ash must return to his home town of Elk Grove, Michigan where she awaits his presence. Ash vs Evil Dead‘s second season obviously has has a few things to prove. One of these things is that the same spark is still there, especially with the characters. Happily, for those with faith in Raimi and Campbell it is still there, if not even stronger than before. Another thing is that the gore still has to be in the show in bucket loads and again I can happily say that there is plenty. To make sure the audience knows this, we get it all over the screen even before the opening credits roll. Just wait till you see the second episode, it has a scene that will stay in your memory for some time (all I will say is mortuary, and a butt joke).

For those wondering how the new members of the cast fit into the show, Lee Majors is the one that stands out; perfectly playing Ash’s father Brock Williams. We even get a Six Million Dollar Man joke to break the ice. The relationship between Ash and his father is interesting because it’s something we’ve not really seen for the character and it fleshes him out more. It is also interesting to see how his own town reacts to Ash’s return. In ways we never really think about the outcome of the events of the first film and who knew about it. I won’t spoil this too much, but his return is not taken well, which just adds to the problem of Ruby.

The third, and sadly final, season sees Ash opening up his new hardware store (and sex emporium) with Pablo and things are looking good. That is until Ash’s wife, Candace Barr (Katrina Hobbs) turns up to tell him his daughter Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) is in danger. With Ruby back to her old tricks, and Kelly bringing Dalton (Lindsay Farris) to help in the fight, can Ash save the world and his daughter) from the Deadites?

The third season of Ash vs Evil Dead does well to pull fans back into a show, whilst introducing new characters – which can be a hard task, especially if they feel shoehorned into the action. Thankfully Brandy and Dalton don’t feel forced, and the well-written scripts poke at enough nostalgia to make sure fans feel right at home, especially with Dalton. When looking at what Ruby is up to though, things get a little interesting. Newcomer Dalton is a connection to what she is doing too. This season also hints back to Army of Darkness with this seasons story all about Ash’s part in the legacy of the Necronomicon. And with the inclusion of Brandy we truly get a female version of Ash and it was a heart warming to see Ash and Brandy fight side by side at the end of the series – and get covered in blood and kick some ass!

In the LITERAL final battle, we also got to see the Ash that the fans deserved. Fighting to save the world from a huge demon seems to be a fitting end for the show. While, I won’t spoil how it ends it is also interesting that fans of Army of Darkness will have a déjà vu moment. Weirdly the show ends how the movies did, and it seems to be the perfect way to go.

The way Bruce Campbell plays Ash is as the slapstick buffoon who never really wants to save the world, but in the end comes good. We see him always fighting against the odds and many times paying the price. The best part is though, in the end he always comes good. That is why the Evil Dead films worked so well, and why Ash vs Evil Dead is so beloved. What Ash vs Evil Dead did though was to bring a team of heroes to fight alongside Ash. Again, they weren’t perfect, but they managed to give Ash the support that he needed and became a part of his family. You could argue that even that Ruby, Ash’s nemesis who was always trying to get in his way, was still part of that “family”.

One thing that I like about Ash vs Evil Dead is that it comes in 30-minute chunks, meaning that it doesn’t mess around. Sometimes this can restrict the show a little too much, but other times it creates a frenetic pace that keeps the gore and laughs going. Of which the show had tons! Of course Ash vs Evil Dead is going to be missed; but for now, horror fans should be happy that we got the perfect show to follow the much-loved Evil Dead films. We were given more deadite action, and the level of gore was never toned down for television. In the end, what more could we have asked for?

I for one am grateful that Ash vs Evil Dead managed to be so good and lived up to what we hoped it would be.

Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete Series is available on Blu-ray now from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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