Thanks to Starz this past Wednesday evening I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet premiere of their new series Ash Vs. Evil Dead at the famous TCL Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard. In addition to the stars of the new series being present, fans got a chance to see a free concert of the iconic punk rock legend Iggy Pop, who provides the theme for the series that you can hear in the trailer that was released during SDCC this year.
When the concert concluded we got a chance to head into the Chinese Theater and enjoy the Pilot episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead and I can tell you that if the series is at least half as fun, loud, and clever as this pilot episode was then I’m certain that it will please every Evil Dead fan out there including myself.
This will be a Spoiler-Free Review of the Pilot. I do not want to remove the joy of the surprises the show has in store for you.
It’s been 30 years since Ash fought off the Deadites in the infamous cabin where it all started. Ash lives in a trailer and still has a dead end job working at ValueStop. He’s a senior employee and completely fails at the simplest tasks of his job. When not at work he is often seen visiting his local bar and hitting on women. All is not completely well with Ash. The Evil is back and starting to bring the terror of the Deadites upon his life once again.
Ash is the same character that you know and love and he is all that he was in Army of Darkness. He is brash, loud, cowardly, and full of Bravado that makes him an incredibly entertaining character to watch. He does dumb things and is incredibly selfish, but we root for him when he steps up to his heroic potential. This is partly due to the clever writing of the character, but also Bruce Campbell who steps back into the role almost like he never left. In addition to Ash we are also introduced to two new characters. Pablo played by Ray Santiago and Kelly played by Dana DeLorenzo. Pablo and Kelly both also work at ValueStop. These characters could have felt tacked on, but they actually add to the show and are very likable in their own right. Pablo idolizes Ash and is a treat to watch interact with him. The chemistry between these three feels on point and I’m looking forward to seeing more of this unlikely team go forward as the series continues.
It also is interesting to note that there is also a side story that is taking place. It involves Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), a state trooper, dealing with the Deadites in her own way. The scenes with this character in this episode are fantastic, but her purpose in the overall arch of the series is unclear at this point. It will most likely be expanded upon in further episodes this season.
Sam Raimi returns to be the creative force behind this episode including stepping back into the director’s chair and it shows. The episode contains many of the iconic motifs of the series including the iconic camera perspective shots of the Evil chasing the characters. There is even a scene in the episode that harkens back to the infamous plate-smashing scene in Evil Dead 2. Raimi also shows off his filmmaking talents with clever and inventive shots and the pilot that feels like a true sequel that the franchise deserved.
Something interesting that I noticed is that the series seems to be ignoring Army of Darkness completely. This is not a bad thing at all, but it makes the show follow a new continuity that the events of Evil Dead 1 and 2 are combined into one incident. It’s an interesting creative decision that I believe makes it easier to follow in a series format. As a long time fan I noticed that this series is like if you combined the humor from Army of Darkness with the gore and style of Evil Dead 2. This is exactly what I have wanted.
Since the series is being shown on Starz it is an uncensored experience with buckets of blood and R rated antics occurring, which is beneficial. There are no restrictions so many of the scenes are gruesome are allowed to go as far as possible. Unlike 2013’s Evil Dead remake, the gore in this show is used in more comedic ways making it a blast to watch.
So far the tone of the series is that of a straight up comedy with a lot of classic horror elements thrown in for good measure. It’s refreshing to see a horror/comedy on television and as a fan of the franchise it fits perfectly.
Overall Thoughts: The pilot starts up what’s hoping to be a fun series with a bang. Every second of this episode was filled to the brim with a lot of great elements that fans will love and instantly recognize. I do think it’s recommended to see the films before because it does assume that you are familiar, but it does a decent enough job setting up the basics so that anyone can join in and have a good time. I’m really looking forward to seeing where it goes for the next nine episodes. This is a must watch pilot.