Back in 1981 Sam Raimi kicked off his career as a filmmaker with a low budget flick called Evil Dead. Telling the tale of a group of kids going to a cabin in the woods and accidentely unleashing Evil through the Necronomicon ex Mortis, the movie blended horror and black comedy in a hypnotic mix and people took notice. However contrary to your Halloween‘s and Friday the 13th‘s Evil Dead did not spawn a gazzilion sequels. In hindsight this was probably for the best becasue that means there is a wealth of options left for the new and hotly awaited Ash vs Evil Dead TV series to go with!
Ash Vs Evil Dead is set some 30 years after the events of Evil Dead 2 (which retreaded the cabin in the woods theme but with a stronger enphasis on comedy) and we find Ash now living in a trailer, still working a supermarket, going about his business. As you would suspect (the title is a dead giveaway, isn’t it) the Necronomicon is has again been opened, unleashing Evil upon the earth once more. As usual Ash is reluctantly caught right in the thick of it.
I have to say I really liked the pacing of this first episode. First of all El Jefe takes the time to get reacquainted with Ash Williams who has grown into a self-centered, lying and manipulative man, which would make him unstandable if he weren’t played with so much charm by Bruce Campbell. And Ash has charm and charisma in spades here. Then we are introduced to the supporting characters at a leisurely pace. There is Ash’s collegue Pablo Simon Bolivar (played by Ray Santiago) who becomes his side-kick by the end, a young girl Kelly Maxwell (Dana Delorenzo) who gets caught in the middle and a cop by the name of Amanda Fisher who has an unpleasant encounter with Evil, setting her on a path that will intersect with Ash’s. Lucy Lawless’s character Ruby Knowby is hardly in there at all. Most other pilots would have chosen to cram a lot more in there, but El Jefe never gives in to the temptation to rush thing, boldly sticking with its own pace. While the story isn’t rushing forward we are already treated to a few outstanding Deadite moments that set us up for the Evil to come.
I was surprised by how right they got the tone of the show from the start, but then again with both Sam and his brother Ivan returning to take on the writing duties it really isn’t such a surprise. Ash vs Evil Dead made the transition to TV really well. All the ingredients are immediately present: Ash Williams, the unique camera movements, the over-the-top violence, the quirky humor, the slightly ridiculous guises Evil likes to take. And yet Ash vs Evil Dead does have its own identity as well, being neither as claustrophobic as Evil Dead I and II nor as wildly adventurous as Army of Darkness. But really for a pilot episode the confidence with which El Jefe came crashing out of the gate is remarkable!
Of course Bruce Campbell is the real star of the show. Already over the course of the three Evil Dead movies we saw Bruce tackle his role of Ash in different ways: in the first one he’s still a young kid, in the second one he really showcased his comedic side and by the third one he’d turned the character into a stong, confident, bona-fide pulp hero. Here in El Jefe Ash has matured again, and Bruce is spot on as always, masterfully switching from charming ladies man to slapstick cluts to bad-ass hero. If you ever wondered why Bruce Campbell is such a beloved cult actor, this is why!
If is wasn’t clear by now I loved this episodes, it put a smile on my face from the first minute till the credits rolled. It was everything you would expect from an Evil Dead outing, presented in a strong and confident episode.
The first season of Ash vs Evil Dead will consist of 10 episodes and I can’t wait to see where this show is going to take me! Moreover the show has already been renewed for a second season so there is plenty more Evil Dead on the way!
Don’t forget to share your favorite moments of the pilot in the comments below! ^^