Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead is one of the most beloved cult films of all time. The sequels it spawned took its over the top gore, and combined it with some real off-the wall comedy, and Bruce Campbell’s Ash managed to hold it all together through sheer tyranny of will, charisma, and a chin that won’t quit. Picking up some years after “the ultimate experience in gruelling terror” left off, Ash vs Evil Dead revives our favourite one-handed demon-slayer, and delivers an acid trip of blood, bullets, and beer that is as charming and entertaining as ever.
So, quick refresher. Ash drives to the cabin in his Delta (Evil Dead). Ash finds evil book. Evil book summons demons called Deadites. Deadites kill Ash’s friends. Ash fights Deadites to destroy evil book. Ash loses his hand, and gets a sweet chainsaw replacement. Evil book sends Ash and his Delta back in time (Army Of Darkness). Ash defeats Deadites in the past, and uses the book to return to the future, becoming its keeper. Thirty years later (Season 1), Ash gets stoned and reads from the book, unleashing the Deadites once again. Teaming up with his best friend Pablo, and coworker, Kelly, Ash goes on a quest to destroy the book before its creator, Ruby (Lucy Lawless), can get a hold of it. In true heroic fashion, Ash makes a deal with Ruby to let him and his friends party in Jacksonville, in exchange for letting Ruby control the book, keeping its evil contained. What can I say? Ash isn’t your usual hero.
Season 2 finds the shaky truth with Ruby threatened when her demonic children betray her in an attempt to summon their father, Baal. Now, united against a common foe, Ash, Ruby, Pablo, and Kelly must hop back in the Delta, strap on the ol’ chainsaw, and get ready to kick some Deadite ass once more.
“We’ll swallow your soul!”
In a time when reboots and rehashes are all the rage in the name of nostalgia, it’s nice to see a long-awaited follow-up that actually feels fresh and deserved. Ash vs Evil Dead not only recaptures the magic of the original trilogy, but actually serves up fresh jokes, innovative gore, and kickass action that lays the cheese on. Thick.
Bruce Campbell falls right back into his iconic character, Ash, lady-killer and demon-slayer. Campbell has been a staple of Raimi’s projects since the original Evil Dead. The history and chemistry between the two is legendary, ad is more than enough reason to have faith in any project that boasts both their names (Spider-Man 3 notwithstanding). Ash is the kind of character that you can actually see kicking ass after a 25-year layoff and still buy it. I can easily see this show becoming a long-running series, with the proper handling. The show has already given us a healthy dose of new ideas and fresh material. While the two Evil Dead films all took place at the mysterious Knowby cabin, the two seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead take us cross-country, and even back to Ash’s hometown.
“Ashy Slashy! Ashy Slashy!”
The rest of the cast is solid enough, and there’s a certain b-movie charm that they all bring to the table. Frequent Raimi collaborator Lucy Lawless is terrific as the immortal Dark One, Ruby. She and Campbell just feel right together after all their work on Xena back in the day. The season’s main baddie, Baal (Joseph Tobeck) is menacing and enjoyably over the top at times. This demon daddy deceives his victims by skinning their friends and crawling inside. He’s never gonna live up to Evil Ash from Army of Darkness, but he’s solid enough, and hopefully becomes a recurring villain as the series goes on.
The series just has such a great balance of fresh gore and scares, coupled with the classic humour we loved from Raimi’s trilogy. The music from the films comes back for each title sequence, and lands with a bloody splat every time. It’s fun as hell. The Necronomicon is a gnarly as ever, and Ash’s chainsaw, while a little rusty, remains one of the most badass monster-killers of all time.
“I should be in Jacksonville, on my second keg of beer, putting my spicy man-meat into a mother-daughter sandwich.”
Ash vs Evil Dead is a great homecoming for a beloved hero, and a rejuvenated franchise. Raimi and Campbell have really gone above and beyond here, and Season 2 manages to improve on everything that Season 1 already got right. I can’t recommend the show enough for fans of the original trilogy, Raimi, Campbell, his chin, or just horror in general. Keep the chainsaw revving for years. I’ll never get enough.