Blu-ray Review: "Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season"

Most times when we hear that there is going to be a remake or a reboot of a beloved franchise, we hang our heads in sadness and ask the gods why they would do this to us; however, there is always that rare case in which rebooting a franchise turns out to be a success, which is exactly what happened with the first season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”  If you are a horror fan and you are not familiar with the EVIL DEAD films than stop reading and go watch them immediately; for the rest of us, hearing that Ash was coming back after a 30 year hiatus (from EVIL DEAD) was music to our ears - the only concern being, would the show hold up perfect combination of horror and humor that we’ve come to love and appreciate from the films? 

“Ash vs. Evil Dead” kicks off 30 years after the events unfolded in the notorious cabin in the woods.  Ash is now a loner, living an existence based solely on trying to get laid while also barely making ends meet.  Luckily for the viewer, we get to see Ash in action rather quickly as the unwelcoming deadites make a return at the most inopportune time.  Flashbacks inform the viewer that one night, while Ash was intoxicated, he decided to impress a lady friend by reading from the forbidden Necronomicon.  As one would expect, this awoken the Evil Dead and it’s up to Ash to suppress the evil and be rid of the Book of the Dead once and for all.  Joining Ash on his quest to save mankind are his Value-Stop co-workers Pablo, who considers Ash to be nothing less than a national treasure, and Kelly, the hot new employee who is seeking revenge on the Deadites.  Also joining in on the fun is police officer Amanda Fisher, who believes Ash is responsible for the death of her partner (though she can’t seem to wrap her head around how he died - no pun intended) and the enigma Ruby, who is hell bent on trying to find Ash and the Necronomicon.  

There are many things that make this show top notch, but I think it’s important to first discuss the acting.  What makes this series so enjoyable was the obvious chemistry between all the characters.  Bruce Campbell once again steps into the role of Ash and brings with him his certain brand of humor while thrashing around his chainsaw hand and killing any Deadites that get in his way.  Sure, he’s a lot older now but he hasn’t lost his charm (or sex appeal) and you can’t help but be mesmerized by his quirky one-liners and persistence to always take the easy way out in most situations.  Ash is a character, and it’s a character that transferred seamlessly from the EVIL DEAD movies to this new television show.  Adding into the mix is Ray Santiago (SUBURBAN GOTHIC) as Pablo, Ash’s sidekick, and Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly (A VERY HAROLD & KUMAR 3D CHRISTMAS).  The chemistry between the three of them fighting evil is perfection but what really stands out is how Santiago and DeLorenzo’s characters play off of one another.  It’s the perfect juxtaposition and adds a deeper level to their story and the show in general.  Obviously it goes without saying that the baddest bitch on the block is Ruby, played by the one and only Lucy Lawless (“Xena: The Warrior Princess”).  It’s not until the second to last episode that you really find out what Ruby’s motives are and I like that we were kept in the dark for so long.  Her character is strong-willed and determined and she doesn’t back down for anyone, including death. 

One of my favorite aspects of the show is the creature design of the Deadites.  Almost every episode we are introduced to a new deadite that has found it’s way into Ash’s life and they are created in such a way that they are both horrifying and hilarious.  One of my favorite demons was from Episode 3: Books from Beyond and if you are familiar with PAN’S LABYRINTH then you will have an idea of what this demon may have looked like - it was as if The Pale Man and a Deadite had a baby and that resulted in the demon Eligos.  It’s important to note that these demons did not hold back.  There was bloodshed and carnage in every single episode regardless of if it was the demons doing the killing or Ash and his gang.  People were decapitated, thrown into fans, sawed in half, and more.  Every kill was fun, gory, over-the-top and ingenious.  Also, I don’t know if this is accurate information or not, but the makeup application looked to be all practical and it was on point.  Sure, the deadites looked a bit more polished compared to 1981 but they still had that trademark look of the rotting face and white eyes.  Sam Raimi, director of EVIL DEAD and executive producer of “Ash vs. Evil Dead”, and the rest of the cast and crew did a tremendous job of keeping with the feel of the movies but bringing them up-to-date in a more modern world.  

So how does “Ash vs. Evil Dead” leave off in Season 1?  Well, we both know I can’t tell you that! There were a few surprises, and maybe a death or two, that I didn’t see coming and we are even brought back to that cabin where everything first started.  Overall, fans of Ash and the EVIL DEAD movies will leave feeling satisfied but hungry for more.  I know for me, it’s hard to dedicate time to watch a series, but this one in particular is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on television.  Season 1 leaves us with a cliffhanger and we all know by now that Season 2 has been greenlit and luckily we don’t have to wait long as it will be coming to STARZ in October.  For me, I am ready to continue the journey with wherever Ash and Co. go and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for them next.

“Ash vs. Evil Dead: Season 1” is now available on Blu-ray and DVD and includes special bonus features such as audio commentaries, “How to Kill a Deadite” which is as amazing as it sounds, an in-depth look into each episode on “Ash Inside the World”, and a series of Ash’s best moments in “Best of Ash”.