Plot: What’s it about?
I am a huge fan of a Bruce Campbell. He is honestly one of my favorite actors of all time, always bringing something extra to any film in which he performs. I have watched many of the better films in his oeuvre and many of his worst, but I keep coming back for more. I recently also listened to the audiobook version of his autobiography (If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor) and I loved every minute of it. Needless to say, this all stems from growing up and staying up late at night. I caught a late-night showing of Army of a Darkness, and I absolutely could not believe it. I think this film is most responsible for my enjoyment of off-the-grid horror-comedies. Needless to say, when I saw that Starz was bringing back one of my favorite characters ever, Ash, I was pumped. So without further ado…
Ash Vs. Evil Dead starts off roughly twenty years since the end of Army of Darkness. Ash has not done much with his life. He still works at a large convenience store (strangely not called S-mart.) He lives in a trailer. He is not particularly in shape and smokes weed and drinks while hitting in any woman in his vicinity. After a particularly long night, Ash unwittingly (and hilariously) releases evil back into the world from the Necronomicon, the book of the dead. He takes his two coworkers from the store, Kelly and Pablo, and sets out in his Oldsmobile Delta 88 to fix the mistake that is threatening humanity. They will contend with deadites, demons, and other impediments to saving the world while the police try to track Ash down for some of the grisly acts that he has committed.
For the most part, Ash Vs. Evil Dead is a success. I enjoyed the plot itself and the character arc of his sidekicks. Kelly and Pablo are both well portrayed.
Obviously, Bruce Campbell is the man. He pretty much dominates whenever he is on screen. The action scenes are fun and I really appreciate that they used a lot of practical effects. That said, like some other reviewers have said before, it just doesn’t quite nail it. While the season begins and finishes strong, there are some issues with how it is written. The issues are not really plot-related so much as dialogue related. In the Evil Dead series, Ash had some of the greatest one-liners ever uttered. I can name numerous off the top of my head (“Groovy,” “This is my boomstick,” “You got real ugly,” “Hail to the king,” etcetera.) Unfortunately, after watching the first season I can not name one one-liner that stuck with me. My hope would be that the writers really focus on this for the second season, because what could have been absolutely incredible turned out to just be pretty good.
At the end of the day, if you are a fan of the Evil Dead series, you will enjoy this series. I am looking forward to seeing the next season!
Video: How’s it look?
Starz and Anchor Bay did an extremely capable job on the digital transfer of the series. With a ratio of 1.78:1 and MPEG-4 AVC encode, depth and clarity are excellent. The transfer itself looks fantastic, but the show itself is not visually on par with such shows as Mad Men or Fargo. This is not knocking it at all, just trying to levy expectations. Fans will be happy with the transfer.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This is a very well done 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. Ash Vs. Evil Dead is an incredibly atmospheric and boisterous series and the producers opted for an advanced sound design fitting the needs of the show. One of the best aspects of the show is the incredible sound design, which should come as no surprise to anybody who watches Sam Raimi films (especially Drag Me To Hell.) the surrounds are used almost constantly during the show for immersion or special effects. This is essentially demo quality.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentaries – They have gone all out and given commentaries on every single episode. This is why I am giving a near perfect score for supplements. I wish more shows would follow suit.
- “El Jefe”: Creator/Executive Producer/Director Sam Raimi, Co-Executive Producer Ivan Raimi, Executive Producer Bob Tapert, and Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell.
- “Bait”: Executive Producer Bob Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell, and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago.
- “Books from Beyond”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago.
- “Brujo”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago.
- “The Host”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago.
- “The Killer of Killers”: Actors Dana Delorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago.
- “Fire in the Hole”: Actors Dana Delorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago.
- “Ashes to Ashes”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago.
- “Bound in Flesh”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago.
- “The Dark One”: Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago.
- Ash Inside the World (1080p, 15:59): the show runner, Craig Digegorio, runs through each episode and talks about what they were trying to achieve and some fun facts. This is a decent feature, but nothing super necessary.
- How to Kill a Deadite (1080p, 2:31): this felt pretty EPK like.
- Best of Ash (1080p, 1:27): skip it.
The Bottom Line
Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Season One is solid but not quite mind-blowing. I am glad to own it, but I am a huge fan of the series and Bruce Campbell. I still felt that the writing could have just been a little bit tighter. They get a very solid “B” but a little tweaking could have made it an “A.” The transfers are solid and the supplementary materials provide commentaries for all ten episodes. I am glad that I purchased the show and look forward to the next season.