Ash vs. Evil Dead’s Kelly Maxwell: The Heroine We Need

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Ash vs. Evil Dead marked the return of Bruce Campbell’s iconic horror hero, Ash Williams, but it also introduced our next great horror heroine, Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly Maxwell.

Sadly, Ash vs. Evil Dead recently concluded its glorious 3-season run.  Its cancellation was a huge blow to the horror community, for we may never get another show that so adroitly balances horror and comedy.  In addition, this is likely the final nail in the coffin for the original iteration of the Evil Dead franchise as Bruce Campbell has officially retired the role of Ash.

The cancellation of Ash vs. Evil Dead is also the death knell of pure, unadulterated entertainment.  The fans have spoken, and they would rather continue to wallow in the misery of the dour The Walking Dead than revel in the pure bliss of Ash vs. Evil Dead. 

Perhaps the greatest loss we will suffer due to the premature cancellation of Ash vs. Evil Dead is the character of Kelly Maxwell.

Kelly Maxwell is today’s greatest heroine.  As played by the brilliant Dana DeLorenzo, Kelly Maxwell is strong, intrepid, funny, intelligent, sympathetic, and human.  At the same time, she is the ultimate badass who you DO NOT want to f**k with.

In Season 3, evil tried with all its might to destroy Kelly, which proved to be an exercise in futility.  There is simply no defeating Kelly Maxwell; she will always have the last laugh in any battle.  When I think about Kelly, this great quote from Martin Scorsese’s Casino  describing Joe Pesci’s Nicky Santoro always comes to mind:

“No matter how big a guy might be, Nicky would take him on. You beat Nicky with fists, he comes back with a bat. You beat him with a knife, he comes back with a gun. And you beat him with a gun, you better kill him, because he’ll keep comin’ back and back until one of you is dead.”

While Kelly is a far cry from Joe Pesci’s sociopathic gangster (except for her proclivity for dropping the f-bomb and her occasional “meat tenderizer” rage), she completely embodies his indefatigable toughness.  Kelly survived possession by Eligos, a mano a mano battle with the cabin, an epic puppet fight with Ashy Slashy, Pablo “mouth-leg”, and “death” by Kandarian Dagger.  Evil came at her with everything in its arsenal, and she kept fighting tooth and nail until she was the last one standing.  Her desire to always “go down swinging” and to never stop fighting, even in the afterlife, is what sets Kelly apart from all the other so-called “badass” characters populating our screens today.

Kelly’s greatest strength is her humanity, and it is what makes her such a vital and indelible character.  Kelly is not Wonder Woman; she is not some infallible superhero.  Instead, she is a vulnerable human being as evidenced by certain aspects of her journey in the final season.  Specifically, we see Kelly let down her guard and acquiesce to her emotions.  This is most apparent during her extremely powerful breakdown after she thought she lost Pablo (the great Ray Santiago).  In addition, we watch as Kelly’s insatiable appetite for revenge proves to be her downfall in her epic battle against the diabolical “80s” Ruby (Lucy Lawless, at her evil best).

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