Ash Vs Evil Dead debuted on Halloween Night. As a big fan of the Evil Dead movie series (though I’ve never seen the reboot) I was really looking forward to this. Find out my thoughts of the premiere episode after the cut. Warning, some spoilers within.
Let’s start by saying that if you like the Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Evil Dead movies you will like this…but you were probably watching anyway. Co-written and directed by Raimi, the show could easily pass for the beginning of a long overdue Evil Dead 4. Ash’s Oldsmobile is somehow still kicking around and the patented low crawling point of view shots from the “evil” perspective are back in full force. There’s Deadites and chainsaw hands and slapstick comedy and Bruce Campbell killing the role of Ash as usual.
If you’ve somehow come into the show cold without seeing either of the movies (which I guess will happen, but I would think this will mostly thrive from it’s built in cult audience) there is an extensive recap of the first two films. For some reason the brilliant third film Army of Darkness is completely ignored. I can understand given the narrative and flow of the show, but even a mention of the film’s events was disappointingly missing.
Like many pilots the show was a lot of set up. Set up Ash’s current wearabouts, his job, his home and what he’s been up to the last 20+ years since the release of Army of Darkness. Set up the whys and hows of the return of the Evil Dead. (Which of course happens in truly “Ash, you idiot” fashion.)
I don’t think I’ve ever watched anything that has been on the Starz network before so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of content. But they seemed to have full reign to do whatever they wanted. There is brief nudity and language and copious amounts of violence, but probably no more than on a given episode of something like The Walking Dead.
I did have a couple of minor complaints about the show. The first really having nothing to do with the show itself, but the fact that after seeing X number of trailers and the released first four full minutes tease, it felt like all of Ash’s main action from squeezing himself into that girdle to finally reuniting with his chainsaw I had already seen. The biggest exception to that was the set up of what appears to be a continuing back story for a couple of new characters, which really wasn’t spoiled.
My other complaint is that the Evil Dead films have always been a master thesis in low budget movie making and slapstick comedy. The first film was made for less than four hundred thousand dollars, so every corner had to be cut and every trick had to be milked to get what was needed. But even as the budgets grew on the sequels, many of the same techniques were still employed as some like the POV crawl had become staples of the franchise.
What none of the films had, and this is partially a product of the time of their release as well, was computer generated effects. Everything was practical effects with makeup and models. (Of note, the effects team of the second and third film featured current Walking Dead big wig Greg Nicotero.) So when a vast majority of the violence quite obviously features CGI, it jarringly stood out to me. Particularly when the effects were good, but not great…which is fitting because it was probably a matter of budget.
Those nitpicks aside, the show is a most for fans of Evil Dead. I think there is enough here to draw in new fans, but the core audience is already in place.
Score 8.5 out of 10 excellent uses of Deep Purple’s Space Truckin’