Ash Vs Evil Dead: Are You Ready?


In two months time, the Starz network will release the much anticipated follow up to Sam Raimi‘s 1992 genre blending cult classic Army of Darkness in the form of a ten episode television series. That’s right Deadites. Evil Dead 4, which is being tailored and repackaged as Ash Vs. Evil Dead, is finally coming to a screen near you. While it saddens me that this isn’t a feature film, with Raimi conducting the entire cinematic train along the way, I’m still gushing like a fat kid with a pocket full of gushers to hang out with the Necronomicon’s chainsaw-wielding nemesis.

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It’s been 33 years since we last we last saw Ash Williams go toe to toe with the best of the undead and the army of darkness. It seems almost as long since Raimi and his rag tag group of filmmaking friends first started spouting about a cinematic continuation of the misadventures of the chainsawed one. I’m looking at you Bruce Campbell. Where are you going Rob Tapert. Look, I understand the industry that is Hollywood and the trappings of both finance and talent. It’s like a group of teenage girls hoping the Fonze-type kid at school is going to ask her to prom. Films almost never make it to the final dance of actual production so I’m not entirely angry with the filmmakers. In fact, I was ecstatic after seeing the first trailer for the upcoming series, but I just got tired of seeing a blurb about Director Raimi or quasi-action star Bruce Campbell vaguely hinting about its possible future and existence on some random film website.

Newly-released poster courtesy of Starz

But the time for idle chatter and tantalizing hints is over, in a short time this baby will finally be upon us. So, I ask you dedicated horror heads out there, are you ready for Ash’s return? In celebration of the upcoming series, let’s all take a journey down memory lane and catch back up to the present with speeds that would make Doc Brown’s time-jumping DeLorean seem tame.

The Evil Dead was released October 15th, 1981. Staring the likes of Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, and Betsy Baker, the film told a usual tale of a book bound in flesh and the ghouls that inhabited it. While made on a small budget of $350,000 or so, most of which was made from the trio of Detroit filmmakers hitting the pavement and luring in small-time investors, the film went on to become a staple of our genre. The film earned $2.4 million in its initial run, and made the splash into the pool of the immortals with subsequent releases on home video. There’s a reason I often refer to horror fans as Deadites.

Stephen King even gave the film a resounding endorsement, calling the picture “The most ferociously original horror movie I have ever seen.” The film ends with the camera rushing towards Ashley, the picture going black as actor Campbell is heard shrieking in terror. With his friends dead and an assumption that he must have followed suit, no sequel was thought to be in the cards. But never judge a book of the dead by its cover.

We Can’t Bury Shelly. She’s Our Friend-Ash [The Evil Dead]

Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn was released March 13, 1987. Directed again by series creator Sam Raimi and staring genre favorite Bruce Campbell, the film was a tonal departure from its now highly- revered predecessor. Made for $3.6 million, financed exclusively by 80s producing juggernaut Dino De Laurentiis, the film went on to earn $5.9 million in its first crack at cracking even. The film, which is essentially a horror-comedy remake of the 1981 classic, is beyond the stuff of horror legend. The film is more classic than The Classic.

Groovy-Ash [Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn]

While the film is essentially an eccentric remake, the second edition to the Evil Dead cannon is much larger in scope. There are others after the Necronomicon this time around, and Ash is unwittingly about to be caught in something he can’t chainsaw himself out of. Amazing horror hijinks ensue with Ash being forced to saw off his own hand in the now legendary scene. The film ends as the self-proclaimed king and The Classic are sucked into a time portal sending the two many years into the past. The finale of the picture was like a curve ball from Henry Rowengartner and again, no one thought an actual sequel would be produced given how outlandish the ending was. Then again, The Classic has a mind of its own. It must ride again. An army was on its way.

Army of Darkness was released February 19, 1993. With Raimi again directing, and Campbell returning, the epic showdown between man and Deadite was ready to set sail. Having its world premier months earlier, the film went on the earn $21.5 million on a decently-bloody budget of $13 million. Produced solely by major-studio powerhouse Universal, largely due to the financial success of Raimi’s 1990 comic-inspired tale Darkman, Army of Darkness would go on to become a classic in its own right. While it’s my second favorite of the trilogy, losing gracefully to the immortal Evil Dead II, the film is unlike any in existence.

Hail to the King Baby-Ash [Army of Darkness]

The film opens with the events immediately following the last outing. Ash is now alone in a different time period being tasked with securing the Necronomicon in exchange for his freedom and return to his own time. In true Ash fashion, he tries to cut corners and unleashes an army of the undead. The film ends in triumph though, as Ash is able to defeat the horde of creepy creatures and return to his day job at S-mart. He works smart. He works at S-mart. With Ash saving the day, the evil dead was believed to be vanquished from whence it came: The Necronomican Ex Mortis. But the thing about evil is it never dies. As Tommy Doyle once said, “it just rests awhile.” The macabre has been slowly simmering in the depths of the mysterious shadows. But the wait is almost over…

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Ash Vs Evil Dead will be released on October 31st, 2015. Halloween just got a whole lot better, if such a thing were even possible. For 22 years, the Deadites have been stuck in isolation, waiting for the perfect time in which another poor sap will accidentally read the dark passages and release the terror on all mankind. Or perhaps the Necronomican isn’t done with ol’ Ashley Williams. Maybe there’s a score to settle and the ever-aging Ash is about to be tasked with the test of his ever fleeting life.

Well That Sucked Pretty Hard-Ash [Ash Vs Evil Dead]

Released as a 10-episode series by Starz, with each half-hour slice of television pie being unleashed in the subsequent weeks, the epic tale of the Deadites will live on as it finds its new home among the other shows on the premium-cable network. The first episode will be directed by Raimi from a script the filmmaker co-wrote with his brother and long-time collaborator Ivan.

The pay-to-play network welcomes long-time star Bruce Campbell, returning to don the chainsaw once more. While the film’s often had a limited cast, the expansion of time the new series provides will give us a host of new and hopefully exciting characters. At the top of the co-starring mountain, Lucy Lawless will play Ruby. Most famous for portraying the warrior princess on the much-loved cult favorite Xena: Warrior Princess(1995-2001), the actress will be in direct conflict with Campbell’s Ash as she believes  the Deadite slayer is responsible for the recent fright fiasco. Ray Santigo will inhabit the fictitious skin of Pablo Simon Bolivar, who is set to be Ash’s right hand man. Good thing seeing as the unlikely hero doesn’t have one. Dana DeLorenzo is poised to fill the shoes of flower-power girl Kelly Maxwell, who is as much running from her past as she is the undead. Lastly, there is Jill Marie Jones. Portraying Amanda Fisher, the role is said to be out to prove Ash is involved in a recent death of a Michigan state trooper.

So let’s all rejoice. It’s been a long time coming, but the time is finally here. The next chapter in one of horror’s most epic sagas is almost upon us. I’ve been waiting for this moment for years, and soon, very soon, we’ll all be back in the clutches of the Necronomicon. I think I’ll watch the trilogy in preparation of the legendary saga’s return. So I ask you this, again, fiends of the flesh. Are you ready for Ash Vs. Evil Dead ?