‘El Jefe’: Does ‘Evil Dead’ Series Proud, If Slightly Flawed Ride


Fighting The Undead Is One Thing.  Fighting Old Age Is Another.

Sam Raimi directs El Jefe with excitement and sadistic glee.  Raimi, who created the Evil Dead series in 1979 with the original (the technical beauty that is The Evil Dead), does a decent job bringing his crazy creation into the 21st century.  While El Jefe isn’t even close to being as sharply directed as the Evil Dead film series, it’s still a fast paced ride of an episode, clocking in at 43 minutes and feeling like 20.

‘Well I Could Finish.  But I Gotta Be Quick.’ -Ash

And while it slightly feels like Raimi was phoning in the direction (only compared to the craftsmanship of the film series), El Jefe does contain sporadic moments of discipline and well thought out cinematic ideas.

Of the many great instances of solid filmmaking from the Detroit-raised Raimi, we horror heads get the classic ‘Deadite POV’ shot (one particularly awesome example in the market parking lot), a moment mimicking a classic scene from 1992’s Army of Darkness (though the film seems to be removed from Ash Vs. Evil Dead‘s timeline), and an awesome moment of exposition between Ash and Pablo with scenes from the original two films being playing on empty boxes in the background behind the shotgun-holstered hero.

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The script, on the other chainsaw, is a mixed bag.  The script is heavily focused on the comedic elements, but that’s not out of left field as the series has been leaning towards comedy for years.  A big problem for me is the omission of basically all the events of Army of Darkness.  Even when Ash is explaining his history to the already loyal side kick Pablo, there is zero mention of the time-traveling aspect of the series.  Also missing is the metal hand from Darkness and I can’t help but feel these are epically missed opportunities.  The first scene with the female cop is also overly long and feels out of place from the overall piece.  It slows down the fun and hopefully will be the primary bases for the series’ plotting later.

The acting in El Jefe is without a doubt the best part of the experience.  While there are many players at hand here, each playing an integral part like a wheel from a cinematic semi truck, the main attraction is actor Bruce Campbell.

With the risk of shocking literally no one in the horror community, Bruce Campbell is absolutely side-splitting entertaining in the new Evil Dead series.  While Ash is more of a putz than when we last saw him— 28(or what the series called 30) years do will do that to a man— Campbell handles the dialogue with ease.  The man was born for comedic acting and brings the goods in El Jefe, gifting Ash Vs. Evil Dead viewers with many hilarious moments amidst the blood and ghouls.  The actor is also serviceably heroic when he needs to be and easily carries the weight of the audience’s overwhelming expectations for the series (or what should have still been a feature film).

Ray Santiago is great in the season opener as well.  He too seems to have a flair for the comedic and it’s hard not to liken him to a bit of a sympathetic wimp.  He immediately idolizes Ash, and their apparent chemistry has immense potential for the series (which has already been granted a second season).

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El Jefe, the inaugural Ash Vs. Evil Dead episode in the Starz freshman series, had a lot of pressure going into its premiere.  It’s no big shock the continuation of Raimi’s Evil Dead saga has been yarned by the horror community for decades.  While I’m slightly letdown by the episode, the second viewing helped knock off the expectations and showed El Jefe to be a solid start to what will hopefully be a long running, highly enjoyable series featuring our favorite wise-cracking hero and his legion of undead enemies.


Join me next week as I take a look at Ash Vs. Evil Dead‘s second outing, Bait, only available on Starz.