Ash vs ev il dead

Bruce Almighty

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Re­view­ing the brain- spat­tered TV se­ries that fol­lows up the movies.

UK Broad­cast Vir­gin Me­dia, via on- de­mand US Broad­cast Starz, fin­ished Episodes Re­viewed 1.01- 1.10

It’s un­likely to sweep the Em­mys, but Ash Vs Evil Dead will con­sol­i­date Bruce Camp­bell’s po­si­tion as a cult icon. The ap­peal of Ash Wil­liams, dimwit star of Sam Raimi’s de­mon- bat­tling hor­ror fran­chise, is undi­min­ished, and from the mo­ment Camp­bell straps on the stump- mounted chain­saw, it’s like he’s never been away.

He has, of course. It’s nearly a quar­ter of a cen­tury since Camp­bell last played this char­ac­ter on screen, and the writ­ers tackle the in­her­ent ab­sur­dity of a 57- year- old ac­tion hero head- on. A shot of Ash strap­ping on a corset in episode one sets the tone: Ash Vs Evil Dead must break some sort of record for jabs at its lead­ing man, with digs about dyed hair, den­tures and the prostate com­ing thick and fast. Such a bar­rage of low blows could take down a lesser man, but Camp­bell takes it all on that gen­er­ously- pro­por­tioned chin.

That af­fec­tion­ate mock­ery is just one of many rea­sons why this up­roar­i­ous se­ries is such a heap of fun. An­other is the quips; as any fan of 1992’ s Army Of Dark­ness would hope, Ash is al­ways ready with a one- liner, and some­how even the ones which are, by mod­ern stan­dards, un­ac­cept­ably chau­vin­ist or bor­der­line racist are en­dear­ing. This must be the only show on TV where a man near­ing pen­sion­able age can sex­u­ally propo­si­tion a twen­tysome­thing wait­ress and still re­main love­able. Ash is a numb­skull and a di­nosaur, but the fact that he knows that some­how acts as a get- out- of- jail card.

When it comes to plot, there isn’t a great deal of it, and it’s hard to imag­ine a show this shal­low sus­tain­ing four or five sea­sons. After a stoned Ash ac­ci­den­tally

Bruce Camp­bell’s twinkly charm sells the show

un­leashes de­monic forces again by read­ing from the Ne­cro­nomi­con to im­press a con­quest, the se­ries is ba­si­cally just a mo­bile blood­bath, with Ash and his co­horts blast­ing, chop­ping and, er, meat- slicer- ing their way across the coun­try en route to a fan- plea­sur­ing re­turn to the cabin in the woods where it all be­gan in 1981’ s The Evil Dead. Wher­ever they go, new peo­ple – be they diner pa­trons, mili­tia men or hik­ers – are pos­sessed and trans­formed into mur­der­ous Dea­dites who must be dis­patched. Mid- sea­son, the ap­peal of this for­mula does start to wane a lit­tle, but the sheer brio of the ac­tion se­quences keeps you en­ter­tained.

The vi­o­lence level is jaw­drop­ping, with more de­cap­i­ta­tions than Peter Cushing’s fil­mog­ra­phy and enough im­pal­ings to make Vlad Tepes blanche. You wouldn’t be sur­prised if half the bud­get went on dry clean­ing bills, as barely five min­utes passes with­out the cast del­uged in fake blood. Un­like 2013’ s big- screen re­make, Ash Vs Evil Dead keeps tongue firmly in cheek when­ever it’s cav­ing in a skull. In Fede Al­varez’s movie vi­o­lence is gritty, painful and trau­ma­tis­ing; here it’s bright­ly­coloured, car­toon­ish splat­ter­stick.

Lucy Law­less adds a lit­tle in­trigue as a mys­te­ri­ous char­ac­ter who’s after the book; there’s solid sup­port in the shape of Ash’s trav­el­ling com­pan­ions Pablo ( Ray San­ti­ago) and Kelly ( Dana DeLorenzo); and the se­ries isn’t afraid to take a few lib­er­ties with the lore. But re­ally, its ap­peal rests squarely on the shoul­ders of Bruce Camp­bell. His twinkly charm sells it, and you can­not imag­ine an Evil Dead se­ries work­ing with­out him. Thanks largely to the fact that Camp­bell is front and cen­tre, this is a goofy, groovy guilty plea­sure. Hail to the king! Ian Ber­ri­man

“Why does no one want to shake my hand?”

Never open your mouth when blood is fly­ing at you.

He might be 57, but he’s still got it.

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