Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season 1 Blu-ray Review
The first season of “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” is fun, but underwhelming.
After the abysmal “Evil Dead” remake, fans of the horror franchise finally get what they have been longing for- the return of Bruce Campbell as Ash. Campbell’s return is not in a new movie, however, but a brand new 10 episode Starz TV series titled “Ash Vs. Evil Dead.” So, how does it stack up in terms of the original trilogy and as a follow-up to “Army of Darkness”? The results are frustratingly uneven.
It’s been 30 years and Ash’s life hasn’t changed for the better. He lives in a trailer park, works in another big box store, sleeps around, and, oh yes, still has the Necronomicon lying around. Worse still, passages of the infamous book have been read aloud accidentally thereby awakening demonic chaos once again. Needing to stop the madness, Ash embarks on a journey to try and undo what he foolishly did. Joining him on his screwed up journey are two co-workers (Pablo and Kelly) who become wrapped up in the bloody mess.
Throughout the course of the 10 episodes, viewers can expect to see additional stories involving a Police Detective (Amanda) investigating murders and believing Ash is the killer, a mysterious woman (Ruby) who helps Amanda out, Kelly’s mother, an occult bookstore owner, a demon dubbed Eligos, Pablo’s shaman uncle, a possessed Kelly, multiple Deadite attacks, militiamen, a return to a particular cabin, evil Ash, a group of hikers, and a bad deal.
As a big fan of the “Evil Dead” trilogy, I was excited to see “Evil Dead” return in a new format (TV) that allowed for more characterization and storytelling time instead of a mere 90 minute or 2 hour movie. After watching the first 2 episodes, things appeared to be going well for the show (especially since Sam Raimi wrote and directed the pilot), but unfortunately, the show doesn’t maintain the momentum.
On the surface, this show should be a hit. It has gore, comedy, Deadites, Bruce Campbell. So, why exactly is it so inconsistent? It’s a combination of things. First of all, the writing lets the show down at times. In addition to Ash’s character being more of a sleazy idiot than usual, the “road trip” format of the inaugural season is all over the place. In theory, the road trip should open up the show more, but it falls victim to drug out storylines (see episodes 3-5 with the Eligos demon) and plots that fizzle out (such as the Detective making Ash’s life difficult). Stranger still is the fact that the show doesn’t feel like it connects seamlessly with the trilogy. It feels like it’s own thing which is a bit jarring.
Speaking of jarring, the inclusion of CGI f/x is just that. Now, granted, there is a ton of fantastic practical f/x here, but seeing the cheap CGI really takes you out of the story. It doesn’t fit in the “Evil Dead” universe.
It may sound like I’m bagging on the show a lot, but it is still by and large an entertaining series. Despite the changes to his character, Bruce Campbell steps back into the role of Ash with ease. He’s far and away the highlight of the entire show and his one-liners are often the best moments. Just seeing him again makes the show worthwhile.
The new characters (Pablo and Kelly) may seem like forced inclusions at first, but they turn out to be quite likable. They interact and work with Ash very well. Ruby (played by genre veteran Lucy Lawless) is also a memorable character who turns out to be integral to the plot.
Equally appealing here are the callbacks and references to the trilogy. The show is at its best with moments that feel connected to the series (namely the cabin material, the chainsaw, and Ash’s hand).
Presentation: 1.78:1 1080p. How does it look? This is a tremendous hi-def transfer. Honestly, it’s the best way to watch the show if for no other reason than to be able to observe all the gory details.
Audio Track: Dolby TrueHD 7.1. How does it sound? This is a crisp track that delivers in every audible way.
* Commentary on all 10 episodes. Commentators include Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Jill Marie Jones, and Lucy Lawless. The commentary tracks are a bit stiff (albeit funny at times), but they are sometimes insightful as there are plenty of tidbits about initial “Evil Dead 4” plans, how the show came about, casting details, behind-the-scenes info, etc. Unfortunately, there are times where they just talk about stuff that happens on screen which just isn’t interesting.
* The 16 minute “Ash Inside The World” contains episode discussions, interviews, chats about practical f/x, set footage, and more.
* “Best Of Ash”- A short highlight reel of Ash in season 1.
* “How To Kill A Deadite”- Bruce Campbell and others talk about the ways a Deadite can be destroyed.
Overall Thoughts: “Ash Vs. Evil Dead” may be a flawed series, but it’s still worth a watch. Given the intriguing cliffhanger ending in episode 10, it’s quite possible the second season can right the ship when it debuts October 2, 2016. Time will tell.
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