By Thomas Gillen
In the first season of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Bruce Campbell returns as one-handed, shotgun loving Ash Williams. This is the newest chapter in the “Evil Dead” universe, taking place 20 plus years after the Medieval themed “Army of Darkness.”
Originally envisioned to be the fourth “Evil Dead” movie, creator Sam Raimi decided that “Ash vs. Evil Dead” would work better as a television show instead since extensive material was written and multiple ideas were developed. The “Evil Dead” movies revolve around an ancient book called the “Necronomicon Ex-Mortis or the Book of the Dead,” which can summon demons called Deadites.
The first two movies took place around a remote cabin in the woods where Ash and his friend are terrorized, while the third movie, which will not be addressed in the show due to a studio licensing issue, transported Ash to Medieval times as he attempted to find his way home.
The pilot episode of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” revolves around an older Ash, who traded in his chainsaw hand for wood, works a boring job at ValueStop and lives in a trailer park. After a long night at the bar, Ash drunkenly reads from the ancient book to impress a woman and summons the Deadites once again. This event causes havoc across town, as two Michigan State Troopers investigate a homicide and instead come face to face with the Deadites. Jill Marie Jones, who plays trooper Amanda Fisher, barely survived the attack while her partner was killed. She now has to clear her name since no evidence of the incident was found, while looking for Ash, who she holds responsible.
While working at ValueStop, Ash gets into a fight with a possessed doll and is saved at the last minute by his co-worker Pablo, played by Ray Santiago. Ash then tells Pablo about his past encounters with the Deadites. While Ash is reluctant to get back into the fray, Pablo is convinced that Ash is the leader prophesized to him by his uncle, a shaman. Ash then plans to leave town, knowing that the return of the Deadites is his fault and fears the repercussions. However, Pablo and fellow co-worker Kelly, played by Dana DeLorenzo, discover Ash at his trailer before he leaves. The three then have to fight a neighbor-turned-Deadite, and Ash is once again forced to pick up his chainsaw hand and fight evil.
The four main characters all do a fine job, with Bruce Campbell leading the charge. He easily steps back into the shoes of Ash without missing a beat and adds more vulnerability and personality to the char- acter not seen in the previous movies. Lucy Lawless plays the fifth main character in “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” Her character, Ruby, has a small interaction in the pilot with Amanda Fisher and seems to believe her story while holding a few secrets of her own.
The make-up effects are another mainstay of the “Evil Dead” franchise, which includes “The Evil Dead,” “Evil Dead II,” “Army of Darkness,” the reboot film “Evil Dead,” and now “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” The first two movies had plenty of blood and gore, which Raimi and his team created on set; this mostly applied to the pilot, which aired on Oct. 31, with some computer-generated images thrown in. This episode contains plenty of blood and violence, so viewers who are not fans of excessive gore and bodily violence might not enjoy the show. Viewers who enjoy horror comedies, horror movies, or the “Evil Dead” franchise should tune in.
New episodes of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” air on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. on Starz, a premium cable network similar to HBO and Showtime.