Like most fans of the Evil Dead franchise, I’m one of those guys who cringed and glared suspiciously through skeptical eyes at the announcement of an Evil Dead TV series. I’m also one of those guys who feel that the original Evil Dead is far superior over its sequel as well as Army of Darkness, so when I was finally able to see for myself what Raimi, Campbell and company did with their baby, I was pleasantly surprised. As a matter of fact, I’m fairly certainly a grin never left my face through the entire show.
A bit of history here: I’ve been an Evil Dead fan since about the age of 13. My mom rented it for me on a whim in the early 80s under the condition that I would babysit my sister and brother while her and my father went out on the town. She knew I loved horror movies and so judged the film by the cover, brought it home and presented it to me in a transparent case with no visuals to help feed my curiosity. Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting the grueling terror I experienced that night. Since then, it has been the film I’ve seen the most. I know more about the making of this film than any other. And I’m a Michigan boy where the movie took place as well as a handful of it actually being filmed here—some only 10 minutes from me—so naturally I’m a bit of a fan boy.
Eventually I befriended the makeup FX artist, Mr. Tom Sullivan, who happens to be a local. He’s been to my house a few times for dinner and to hang out, lugging his props, paintings, and home movies of Campbell and Raimi’s old college indie films that most have never seen—all packed into a single VHS tape complete with a copy of “Within the Woods,” the short film made by Raimi, Campbell, and friends to raise money for the original Evil Dead.
As you can see, Evil Dead is very dear to me. Heck, I haven’t even bothered to watch the remake. I certainly wasn’t down with it being made. In my opinion, much of the charm of Evil Dead is in its amateur and experimental composition. From using cheap acrylic paints for makeup to jerry-rigged camera shots, it’s unique in every sense of the word and a movie that I feel will forever hold up on its own.
All that being said, I watched the entire 45-minute premiere episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead under a microscope, making comparisons and looking for things not to like. This proved to be a rather difficult task indeed. Between the deadites, their voices, the sound effects, and particularly the camera work, there was no mistaking this was Raimi’s creation. The deadites looked and sounded like deadites, Bruce played Ash just how we’ve always loved him—in the middle of a heap of trouble, sprayed with blood, and clumsy as ever. Heck, Raimi even had Ash driving the original “classic” (Raimi’s Delta 88 that has made appearances in all his films, including the Spiderman trilogy), and when Bruce stripped off his work smock and you saw that blue denim-colored button-up shirt, you knew it was on! Ash was back, baby!
If I have anything bad to say about the show at all it’s that the blood was clearly CGI, to the point where I wonder if they even tried to hide that fact; and the second—and this could be because I’m biased—but I think it would have been great to see Tom Sullivan’s original sketches from the book of the dead incorporated into the show rather than someone else’s work.
Kudos to Raimi, Campbell, and Tapert for pulling this off and giving the fans something they all knew we’d love. I can now see why a second season has already been greenlit.
I have yet to see anyone say a bad thing about the premiere, and understandably so. Although Ash Vs. Evil Dead is not dark and gritty like the first Evil Dead, I felt like Raimi and the gang paid very close attention to what people loved about Evil Dead I and II, because every little nuance is there. I really cannot say enough positive things about the show; even my wife loved it. We sat, laughed, cringed, and were left wanting more. And as I turned off my television with a smile stuck to my face and a feeling of complete satisfaction, I knew it would be a long week ahead waiting for the second episode to air.