Bruce Campbell vs fan ex­pec­ta­tions

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased 19 septem­ber 2016 | 18 | dVd Showrunner Craig diGre­go­rio Cast bruce Campbell, dana delorenzo, lucy law­less, Jill marie Jones

It’s taken over two decades of cam­paign­ing (and re­quired suf­fer­ing through an Ash-free re­boot), but Evil Dead ma­ni­acs fi­nally had their pa­tience re­warded this year, as a fourth out­ing for re­luc­tant hero Ash Wil­liams fi­nally hit our screens – bring­ing Bruce Campbell back to the fran­chise where he be­longs, to up­date the char­ac­ter that made him a big-chinned icon.

Okay, so those screens were in liv­ing rooms and not cin­e­mas, but the (pos­sessed) spirit was es­sen­tially the same, and surely the ex­tended TV for­mat would serve the se­ries bet­ter than a 90-minute film, right? Right? Well, yes and no.

Let’s start with the good stuff. An older (but not wiser) Ash digs out the Ne­cro­nomi­con, Book of the Dead, to im­press a girl. Ac­ci­den­tally res­ur­rect­ing his old en­e­mies, the de­monic Dea­dites, he hits the road to put right what he got very, very wrong. It’s a fun high con­cept, and one that works al­most en­tirely on the strength of Campbell’s per­for­mance.

Mirac­u­lously, the tele­vi­sion Ash doesn’t just feel like a con­sis­tent char­ac­ter, but an ac­tual per­son, who’s not only ex­isted in the 24 years off-screen, but has lived while we haven’t been look­ing. He’s sup­ported by two charm­ing new side­kicks – Pablo Bo­li­var (Ray San­ti­ago) and Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) – whose af­fec­tion for/tol­er­ance of Ash brings out the best in the char­ac­ter.

Ash is es­tab­lished in a per­fect pi­lot, then sent back to a very fa­mil­iar lo­ca­tion in an as­ton­ish­ing three-part fi­nale. If those episodes had been chain­sawed apart and stitched to­gether, we would have had the movie fans have cam­paigned for since Army Of Dark­ness hit VHS.

Sadly, the episodes be­tween the pi­lot and fi­nale are more dis­ap­point­ing than find­ing your girl­friend’s de­cap­i­tated head is still talk­ing to you. De­spite each episode hav­ing a measly 25-minute run­time, there’s a lot of pad­ding and rep­e­ti­tion across the sea­son’s ten in­stal­ments, with one ex­tended dream se­quence be­ing the nadir of the fran­chise as a whole. The prac­ti­cal ef­fects are also a let­down, some­how look­ing far cheaper in dig­i­tal than they ever did on 35mm.

Still, AvED does enough to make us ea­gerly an­tic­i­pate the in­com­ing sec­ond sea­son. If that fixes the prob­lems while building on the suc­cesses, we’ll start cam­paign­ing for sea­son three right away.

Ex­tras Im­pres­sively, there are cast and crew com­men­taries on all ten episodes – eight of them fea­tur­ing Bruce Campbell. “Ash: Inside The World” (16 min­utes) strings to­gether short be­hind-thescenes pieces (pre­vi­ously avail­able on­line) on ev­ery episode. “How To Kill A Dea­dite” (two min­utes) sees Campbell dis­cuss… well, have a guess. Fi­nally, there’s a short “Best Of Ash” mon­tage. Sam Ashurst

In the fi­nale, look for a Freddy Kruegeresque weld­ing glove hang­ing on a wall – a nod to a sim­i­lar mo­ment in Evil Dead II.

Some Na­tional Trust prop­er­ties are live­lier than oth­ers.

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