ASH VS. EVIL DEAD Season 1 Premiere [Review]

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ASH VS EVIL DEAD Season 1, Episode 1 “El Jefe”/ Directed by SAM RAIMI/ Written by SAM RAIMI, IVAN RAIMI & TOM SPEZIALY / Starring BRUCE CAMPBELL, RAY SANTIAGO, DANA DELORENZO & JILL MARIE JONES/ Produced by RENAISSANCE PICTURES & STARZ!

Over thirty years ago, Ash Williams and his friends went on a weekend trip to a cabin in the woods. It was supposed to be a fun time, with all the usual distractions a bunch of young people with unbruised livers and a complete lack of common sense can enjoy – i.e. drinking and screwing. Unfortunately, the previous occupant of the cabin was an occult scholar who had been translating The Necronomicon – an evil book bound in human flesh and written in blood. And in that act of translation, something was awoken.

Something ancient. Something evil. Something dead.

Ash escaped with his life but he lost his girlfriend and his hand in the process. Since then, Ash has kept that copy of The Necronomicon under lock and key in his trailer, away from where just any idiot could stumble across it. Ash has also tried to forget that dark weekend as best he can with all the distractions available to a man in the modern age (i.e. drinking, screwing and pills).

So it goes that Ash, during a “romantic” encounter with some tattooed cutie with a love for poetry, decided to bust out the one book he owned and do a little recital. Because Ash, while being smart enough to not leave The Necronomicon where just any idiot could get their hands on it, is not just any idiot. Particularly when he’s stoned and horny. ESPECIALLY when he’s stoned and horny!

So now the Evil Dead have risen again and the world, as we know it, is almost certainly doomed. But we are not without hope. For as Ash’s co-worker Pablo tells him, the shamans of New Jersey (or Honduras – Pablo is a little vague on exactly where he came from) tell tales that when great evils walk the Earth, a man will stand up to face them and be the hero the world needs in its darkest hour.

Ash Williams is that hero. And we are SOOOOO screwed!

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Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are both up to their old tricks and proving that old dogs don’t necessarily have to learn new tricks. Despite this, Raimi (with co-writers Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy), is not content to sit on his laurels and repeat himself. While the show could easily please its established fan-base with jokes about Bruce Campbell going grey in between over-the-top zombie kills, Ash Vs. Evil Dead is better than that.

This premiere episode also introduces us to Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) – a state police officer whose own encounter with The Evil Dead leaves her standing over two corpses with an empty gun and a lot of questions for Internal Affairs. She too share’s Ash’s visions of bad things coming into our world and her story should give the zanier aspects of the franchise a solid foundation to work against in future episodes.

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Classic horror fans will be pleased to know that Sam Raimi is as committed as ever to using practical effects whenever possible as opposed to CGI. Indeed, the after-show for this episode showcased how certain effects, such as a Deadite twisting her head around on her shoulders, were accomplished entirely though the use of make-up and prosthetics and how the blood is still splattered on the actors by-hand rather than added in digitally. Ironically, this gives a greater sense of realism to the show, despite its inherent goofiness.

Bottom Line: If you’re a fan of the original Evil Dead trilogyAsh Vs. Evil Dead will be everything you hoped for and more.

Rating 4

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