How Ash vs Evil Dead mirrors the original Evil Dead trilogy

3 of 3


The Final Showdown

Season three of Ash vs Evil Dead and Army of Darkness also serve a similar role in their respective trilogies. Army of Darkness is where comedy won its tug-of-war with horror in the Evil Dead franchise; as a result, the humor in Army of Darkness  can occasionally be a little too overpowering. For this reason, Army of Darkness lacks Evil Dead II and Ash vs Evil Dead’s more dexterous balance of horror and comedy.

Army of Darkness is also a much bigger, more ambitious film than its predecessors. It is stuffed to the gills with a myriad of special effects utilizing most of the technology that was available at the time. The climactic medieval battle is quite a spectacle, and it was the most massive sequence in the series up to that point. This battle would certainly be right at home in any big budget medieval epic.

Season three of Ash vs Evil Dead looks pretty similar to season two from a budgetary standpoint, but the final two episodes really up the ante. The series climaxes with the destruction of Elk Grove as evil takes over the world. Eventually, military reinforcements are summoned, and we have an all-out war with heavy gunfire, fighter jets, and tanks. This all culminates in a mano a mano battle between Ash and Kandar the Destroyer, the ultimate deadite called upon to test the mettle of Ash. These last two episodes certainly evoke the battle sequence in Army of Darkness with their huge scale and mass destruction.

Army of Darkness — Courtesy of Renaissance Pictures

Again, Army of Darkness doubles down on the humor, some of which strays too far into pure silliness. To me, the Gulliver’s Travels inspired sequence in Army of Darkness where Ash battles a platoon of mini-Ashes is too silly and puerile. Raimi and Campbell are usually able to sell the most ridiculous scenes, but Ash singing “London Bridge is Falling Down” while trying to stomp on little Ashes was a bit too much for me. It was just too much slapstick and not enough “splatstick.”

The fifth episode of Ash vs Evil Dead season three (“Baby Proof”) was the next time the series let me down with a major comic set piece. That piece is, of course, the moment when Natalie (Samantha Young) has her head crushed by Ruby’s little Ash doppelganger.

Ultimately, the fiendish toddler enters Natalie’s corpse via a certain orifice, allowing him to use her corpse as a weapon against Ash. The resulting scene features a demented bit of “whack-a-mole” with Ash continually swinging and missing the little devil’s face as it pops up through Natalie’s bloody neck stump. Like the mini-Ash sequence, this entire bit is too goofy and childish (no pun intended), even for Evil Dead.

Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell with Lindsay Farris as Dalton – Courtesy of STARZ

Another interesting parallel between Army of Darkness and Ash vs Evil Dead season three is the inclusion of knights who form an alliance with Ash. In Army of Darkness, we have both Lord Arthur (Marcus Gilbert) and Henry the Red (Richard Grove), both of whom initially have a contentious relationship with Ash. Eventually, both men warm up to Ash, and they fight alongside him in the battle against the army of the dead.

In the third season of Ash vs Evil Dead, we are introduced to Dalton (the great Lindsay Farris), a Knight of Sumeria. Initially, Ash is a bit wary of our “gluten-free” knight, Dalton. Ash soon discovers that his misgivings about Dalton are unfounded. Dalton actually proves to be one of the greatest heroes of the third season when he sacrifices himself in the rift. This selfless act creates the diversion that Ash, Kelly, and Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) need in order to save their souls from eternal damnation.

Finally, both Evil Dead trilogies were planned to conclude with Ash in an apocalyptic wasteland deep in the future. While the apocalyptic ending was excised from Army of Darkness, it was resurrected for Ash vs Evil Dead (in a somewhat more upbeat manner). The intention was always for the series to end in the future, so it is great that the creative brain trust had the opportunity to fulfill this plan.

Apocalyptic Ash Williams – Courtesy of STARZ

Securing a Lasting Legacy

As you can see, the Evil Dead film and television trilogies follow a similar path. Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell molded Ash vs. Evil Dead into a near-perfect amalgam of the film trilogy. Their fastidiousness resulted in a magical show that gave us the blood, the laughs, and the awesomeness we expect from Evil Dead while broadening the mythology and introducing iconic new characters. More than anything, Ash vs Evil Dead cemented the Evil Dead series’ status as one of the greatest franchises in film and television history.

How Poltergeist influenced Evil Dead II. dark. Next

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 is currently available on Blu-ray and DVD. Tell us what each Evil Dead trilogy means to you in the comments below!