Ash vs ev il dead
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.