From the creative mind of Sam Raimi, based off the hit cult films of the same name, we are given the new adventures of eponymous lothario Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) with a whole slew (yes, I went there!) of Evil Dead, or Deadites as Ash calls them, to fight. Granted, Ash is older, slightly fatter, with his razor sharp wit and charm still intact, plus his handy chainsaw hand at play to slay to a new audience on the Starz network. Along with Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy, this “slice and dice” comedy/horror is remarkably entertaining. And bloody. Did I mention the copious amounts of blood in this yet? Be prepared for it! And the cursing.
I have had the opportunity to binge-watch the entire first season and was impressed with the practical effects with minimal to no CGI effects. The entire production has an air of creepiness to it along with a gritty reality that fits the world Ash lives in. For the past thirty years since the Evil Dead films, our hero has been avoiding responsibility and maturity, living in his old Airstream trailer and working as an employee for ValueShop-mart, a big box retailer. But through an act of carelessness with a woman he gets high with, he cracks open the Necronomicon, the Book of the Dead, to read her poetry so he could get laid. Things don’t go well after that as it releases the Kandarian Demon since Army of Darkness.
A new employee Ash deals with, Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago), sees in Ash a hero – someone to look up to, even if Ash doesn’t believe in himself because he’s wracked with survivor’s guilt since all his friends and fiancee were taken from him in the first and second Evil Dead films. Pablo tends to be a bit naive but open to the possibilities of the universe as his uncle, El Brujo (Hemky Madera), a mystic shaman, reveals that Ash may be one of the “El Jefe” spirits; the Boss. It is that discovery which sets Ash’s destiny to save Mankind from the Deadites and the Dark One, performed with all playful seriousness by Lucy Lawless.
Another employee that Pablo is infatuated with (as is Ash) is Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo), a somewhat troubled woman trying to run away from her past. She is accidentally roped into fighting Deadites then becomes possessed later on as El Brujo attempts to drive out the evil that has overtaken her. DeLorenzo brings a fresh and even performance with layered nuances to her character that is just beginning to reveal a complicated soul that should be interesting to explore in this series. I had seen her comic talents in The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson as CBS executive, Beth, a stuffy yet conservative suit who eventually loosens up and in a television pilot as the co-host of puppet Snorky Lopez’s Suppozably Speaking bit in The Josh Robert Thompson Show.
The last character we are introduced here is a disgraced Michigan State Trooper, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), whose partner was killed by a Deadite to her unbelieving eyes. Through Lawless’s character, Ruby Knowby, she convinces Amanda that Ash is to blame for her partner’s death and uses her to find him and kill him because the Knowby family in Evil Dead 2 were killed. But we find later on that Amanda discovers Ash was only partly to blame and she eventually joins the team to put to rest the Dark One and the Necronomicon.
Filmed around New Zealand, which doubles as our Michigan, the series is Executive Produced by veteran TV icon Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Craig DiGregorio. The project was first officially revealed by Sam Raimi at a surprise appearance at the 2014 San Diego Comicon. In November, Starz announced an official order for the series. Campbell revealed the channel was the only network that would give them the ability to be unrated and unrestricted; stating that ‘Starz does not require the crew to create alternate, “wimpy” versions for television.’ However, due to legal issues with Universal Pictures, the events from Army of Darkness cannot specifically be mentioned on the TV show.