Ash vs Evil Dead is zany, gory and absolutely groovy

ash

“How does it feel?”

“Groovy.”

Man, oh freaking man, has Starz Ash vs Evil Dead gotten off with a literal bang. The new show, which premiered on Halloween night, brought back a familiar face, sex and a whole lot of gore. If the first episode “El Jefe” is anything to go by, viewers are in for a real treat.

Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) is now three decades older than we last saw in him fighting off Deadites. He’s still smug with that charming smile, but he’s also a bit overweight and living in a trailer. He’s kept his nose (mostly) clean, but ruined everything by waking the demons once again during a night getting high with a date. His idea of impressing the lady is reading some “poetry” or rather some lines from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis.

Cleaning up Ash’s mess as Michigan State Trooper, Amanda Fischer (Jill Marie). She and her partner go to investigate a house after reported noise complaints. Waiting for them is Ash’s date, who is now a Deadite herself. Amanda’s partner is quickly possessed. To save her own skin, she is forced to shoot her partner in the head. Until she can clear her name of murder, Amanda is forced to sit-out of the force and investigate on her own time.

At Value Stop, the modern day S-Mart, Ash is trying to grab his last paycheck before hightailing it out of town. There viewers are introduced to the immediately-lovable Pablo, an immigrant from Honduras. He has an undying fondness for his co-worker and is disappointed by Ash’s decision to leave. But before Ash can grab his paycheck and leave, Pablo points out the new worker, Ashley.

Ash attempts his charms on Ashley. She tells him his mother has died only six months before. Ash, wanting to remain on the upper hand, leaves to take care of business in the backroom. Here he faces another Deadite when he is attacked by a possessed doll. He’s saved by a bewildered Pablo, who tells Ash the story of someone his shaman uncle used to talk about. A man called El Jefe or the boss will be the only man able to rise against evil, and Pablo believes fate has found its man. Ash, refusing to take any responsibility, heads home to leave home.

But Ash can’t out-run evil. Ashley receives a call from her father, saying that her mother is back. Panicking, she acquires the Pablo’s assistance. The two head over to Ash’s trailer to ask him one more time for his film. The final scenes from the movie are some great throw-backs to the original trilogy. Fans of the Evil Dead films will have plenty of fun picking everything out. But the ending shows Ash with his two new cohorts by his side. And it all promises to be one hell of a season.

Nearly every day now there’s an announcement of another show or movie being remade, rebooted or remolded is announce. But what Ash vs Evil Dead does well is breathing new life into the story (or dead, if you want to be cheeky). This is a sequel that many fans probably actually wanted. If you go with the theatrical ending of 1992’s Army of Darkness, there is a great open-ending to the film franchise. And with the ever-growing affection for Bruce Campbell, it was only natural that fans genuinely wanted to know what happened to their hero.

On a production note, the practical effects are simply amazing in the first episode. It’s great to see so much of the spirit of the original films come through in the show. Much of that could also be do to the fact that original creator and director Sam Raimi came back to his roots to direct the first episode. There’s much of the old Three Stooges slap-stick humour in the show and it’s genuinely fun to watch a show, well, be fun. It will be dead-interesting to see where the rest of the season goes with the plot line.

Ash is back in a big way, and, damn, is it groovy.

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