ASH VS EVIL DEAD REVIEWED
Full disclosure: I’m a fan of stupid (humor). If you haven’t read my Scream Queens review… I thought season one was excellent. I’m also a big fan of Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead franchise. If you don’t want to hear accolades for STARZ producing a weekly short series based on one of the dumbest/funniest horror spoofs or my thoughts on where they went wrong and right, feel free to say Klaatu Verata Nic-(cough cough) and slip down to the point marked RATING. The unusually low score for such brand-true work may please you, despite everything I like about this weekly half-hour program. I’ll be one reviewer that admits it doesn’t have the broad appeal that The Walking Dead , Monday Night Football or even BURN NOTICE (What is Burn Notice?) have.
CALM DOWN EVIL DEAD FANS, read.
Two people I know, one I sat down with to watch the premier, told me it was awful and they bailed out five minutes into Ep 1. How can I ignore that? You might think that well, they don’t like horror, Mord. Wrong. Our own editor at the Horror Within Magazine has decided to pass on Sam Raimi’s new production. They’re huge horror fans.
I decided to do a quick post-glimpse interview with one of the people that left the room. The conversation:
M- “Did you like the original Evil Dead movies?”
M- “Don’t you like the Three Stooges?”
M- “Campy stuff? Airplane!?”
“Nope. Too dumb.”
M- “The Naked Gun? It’s comic genius. Surely you liked that…”
M- “And don’t call me Shirley,” I thought.
There it is. Ash Vs Evil Dead has a wall around of dumb around it that keeps me in and keeps others out. I get their point, these detractors of camp. It’ll change the overall score but not my opinion. Interviewee, you are free to unsummon yourself.
::waits for the salt pentagram portal to Not-My-Cup-Of-Tea Land to close::
OKAY, all clear now for us special ED people…
…the timeline of Ash Vs Evil Dead picks up post ED3. Ash’s hand’s missing but he still has the book of the dead (Necronomicon). He works at a new dept. store (not ‘Shop Smart, shop S-Mart’ any more), retaining his boomstick and chainsaw. There’s no more need for evil killing since we last caught up with Ash, though he does continue (sort of) to ‘hunt’ his version of the dead.
At first, the plot is: Ash lives in a trailer park, gets all geared up, pops on a girdle to keep his chubby gut controlled, and runs to the local bar at ten minutes to closing time. He sits near a woman sitting alone at the bar and uses a series of cheesy sob stories… cut to quickie in the bathroom a minute or two later. One minute after that, Ash is out of breath. Add a few aging hero jokes. That’s right… Ash is the same creep we all know.
I didn’t love the opening. An old fart picking up drunk women in bars, smoking dope with young trashy neighbors/hookers, and running through the same jokes used in ED3 made me fear the future minutes. Then I tuned in to the next couple of episodes. I started from the beginning again and appreciated the premier far more the second time. (Oh and Ep 3’s a gem!) Sam Raimi has managed to take a classic franchise of horror-slapstick, turn it into an interesting TV program with same actor portraying the lead character, and rewrite the plot for today’s post-Walking Dead sensibility. Bravo.
The level of awkwardness’s perfect, the gore’s over-the-top ridiculous (a.k.a. fabulous), and the cast kicks ass. Ash and two sidekicks are forced together by the return of the Evil Dead… a return that happens when Ash and a hooker get stoned and read the book of the dead. Hey, she said she loved poetry, in all fairness… My favorite new character is Pablo, a smaller (“smooth, dark Einstein” says Ash) version of Seinfeld’s Kramer.
Now that the Evil Dead’s loose, nobody’s safe. The Evil Dead are everywhere. Manager at the new dept. store? yes. Little dollys on the stock shelf? of course. Mysterious mom that reappears out of nowhere after having gone missing years ago? you know it. Super nice little old lady next door that does Ash’s nasty-ass laundry? OBVI.
Bruce Campbell’s an iconic horror/camp actor. I dig everything he’s done. Bubba Ho-Tep, Evil Dead; yeah even his part in Xena/Hercules. I’m also a Three Stooges fan so he’s my Shemp. (BTW, no spoilers but get ready for Lucy Lawless by ep 3.) That being said, it may not appeal to a good portion of horror aficionados BECAUSE of the reasons I think are strong points. Ash vs. anything could get a huge eye roll from them.
I can take a step back and see that the gore is cartoonish at times. It makes me laugh. I can understand how Bruce Campbell’s smirk and frequent pearls of anti-social, negative outlook wisdom can be grating. Priceless to me. How about we agree to disagree and I find a common score.
I use a rating system here at the Horror Within that’s straight from the pages of the Necronomicon. I invoke H.P. Lovecraft’s vision and rate the programs on a ‘Cthulhu Scale’ of 1-5; five being AIYEE! THE GREAT CTHULHU and one being ‘meh.’ There’re a ton of Lovecraft references in the Evil Dead franchise and it’s (all movies-TV combined) arguably the best work based on HPL in cinematic form. Yeah yeah yeah ReAnimator. I said arguably. Keeping this in mind, I give ASH VS EVIL DEAD 3.5 of 5 Great Cthulhu’s. If you’re a fan of Campbell, Raimi, the Evil Dead then it’s a 5 of 5. Too many horror folks hate the ED concept and toss it into the ‘absurd/unwatchable’ bin.
There, now argue amongst yourselves. Do keep it down though, I don’t want to miss the big moment where Ash says “Gimme some sugar baby.”
Until next remember it’s only horror, not a chainsaw hand.