After reviewing Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), we’ve been in a big old Evil Dead mood.
And so we caught up with all three series of Ash vs Evil Dead, which ran from 2015-2018. It’s good fun! And well worth it for comedy-horror fans.
Ash vs Evil Dead is Bloody Chaotic TV Fun
Yeah, so the show is set 30 years after the conclusion of Army of Darkness.
It’s a direct sequel to the trilogy of films, with many nods to the past history of the series and what played out.
Series creator Sam Raimi revealed the TV show at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, filming began in New Zealand in April 2015, and the first episodes aired in October 2015.
Ash vs Evil Dead Series 1
The first series joins loveable moron Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) decades after his battles with the demonic Deadites.
He lives in a trailer park, stacks shelves for a living, wears a girdle, drinks too much beer, and flirts with women at the local bar. There he invents stories about how he lost his hand to impress local women.
You can think of Ash as a demon slaying version of Joey from Friends.
Basically, he hasn’t grown up in the slightest since the early 1990s and is becoming something of a delusional ageing dude.
Whilst out of it one night, he inadvertently summons the Evil Dead world from the mysterious book the Necronomicon (which he carelessly leaves lying around).
Realising he’s summoned the living dead, he attempts to flee the scene and manages to set up the rest of the three series in the process.
We meet his colleague and friend Pablo (Ray Santiago), who hero worships Ash and is a bit introverted and unsure of himself, but otherwise a good egg.
Then there’s Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), a moody but intelligent and confident woman from a Jewish family. She gets annoyed as men often hit on her because of her good looks.
Ash, Kelly, and Pablo form a Deadbite defeating team and try to save some of the locals in their town. Although this becomes complicated due to Ash’s various experiences… and his general stupidity.
So, yeah, the first series works at its best when it’s doing that stuff.
Its clever and tongue-in-cheek use of slapstick violence merged with Ash’s bumbling sense of righteousness.
From the first 10 episodes, we’d say the first two are the best. Some episodes devolve into mindless action and can, frankly, just be skipped entirely.
Rick and Morty has that problem, where inane action overtakes the plot and it just gets convoluted and tedious.
But for a return to TV show format, after an absence from the series since 1992, the first series of Ash vs Evil Dead gave fans exactly what they wanted!
A lot of daft horror fun with lashings of slapstick comedy. Huzzah!
Ash vs Evil Dead Series 2
Series 2 is a notable pick-up with the writers finding their feet and developing out new ideas for the Evil Dead world.
Into the mix comes Ruby (the awesome Lucy Lawless—she played Xena the Warrior Princess in the ’90s) and various new set pieces and concepts for the show.
She’s an enigmatic lady looking to wipe out the cause of the recent evil demons running riot everywhere. And that includes the arrival of Baal (Joel Toebeck), a seriously badass member of Hell out to do some dodgy things.
Ash Williams, of course, can’t figure out his name and constantly chastises him as Bill.
Episode two, The Morgue, is undoubtedly the best of the lot.
Not least as it includes one of the most hilarious, and notorious, scenes in modern horror history. We can’t actually include it here as it’s age limited and the video gets blocked from appearing. But you can click the Watch on YouTube bit if you dare yourself to.
Basically, it involves Ash getting rammed up a rotting cadaver in a morgue.
It just has that Evil Dead capacity to simultaneously appal, stun, and leave you in hysterics. Seriously, the whole three series were worth it for that one moment.
The rest of the series is good fun, too.
There are several filler episodes that devolve into the standard convoluted carnage, but on the it’s a great step forward.
You particularly get to know Pablo and Kelly more, who are two loveable characters you enjoy spending screen time with. But then there’s Ash, as always, dominating the show.
Ash vs Evil Dead Series 3
Series 3 gets even better, to be honest! This is the best of the lot. The writing and production values ramp up, so the 2018 closer is Evil Dead at its best.
And, frankly, we just have to start with another grotesque scene.
There’s… there’s another medical-based scene that we can’t include here as it’s age-restricted. This one is in a sperm donor clinic. We mean, it’s grotesque. It’s childish. And it’s funny. That sums up the whole series.
Yeah, so it was after that clip we fell in love with Bruce Campbell and the show all over again. The silly, life-affirming charm of it all.
Series three is unquestionably the best of the lot, with higher production values and the strongest writing.
It’s great fun and adds to a largely very strong series. Yes, it ended in 2018 but as far as we’re concerned this series will ruddy well live forever.
The Production of Ash vs Evil Dead
Sam Raimi wanted to bring the series back with another film, but then decided to turn to production company Sparkz. It commissioned the first series, which went ahead after the quality of the pilot.
Kudos to Bruce Campbell for taking on such a physically demanding role again. He was in his mid-50s when filming for series 1 began.
A lot of the stunts he had to do must have been exhausting.
Once the series was cancelled, he announced he was retiring from the real-life role as Ash Williams. That brings to an end one of the most iconic characters in all of horror history.
He turns 64 later this month, so you can understand why.
Naturally, all good things must come to an end. But it doesn’t mean he won’t lend his vocal skills to Ash in the future. Such as with the 2022 video game of the series, which just launched! Have fun playing that (if it’s your type of thing).
But we’ll end on an interview with Mr. Campbell, who’s helped make the Evil Dead franchise so memorable.
Back around 2009, Mark Kermode finally caught up with Bruce Campbell for the great interview above for the Church of Wittertainment.
A great listen with Campbell on charismatic form (as always).