Ash vs. Evil Dead Comedy

'Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season' DVD Review: A groovy, gory good time

August 23, 2016Ben MK

In 1981, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell unleashed The Evil Dead on unsuspecting moviegoers. But even after two sequels and one remake, the franchise is still going strong. Now, 35 years since its debut, the series that refuses to die is back with a vengeance — this time, in the form of the half-hour STARZ TV show Ash vs. Evil Dead.

Continuing the heroic misadventures of Ashley "Ash" Williams (Campbell), Ash vs. Evil Dead sees Ash's past catching up with him when, once again, he inadvertently summons the demonic forces from the Necronomicon. Called into action to battle the ensuing Deadite invasion and send Hell's army back from whence it came, Ash and his fellow Value Stop employees Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) must also contend with zealous cop Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), as well as the mysterious and formidable Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless).

The result feels like a darkly comedic mash-up of Sleepy Hollow and The Walking Dead, as the series proves just as violently bloody and over-the-top gory — if not more so — as AMC's zombie juggernaut. The difference, however, is that Ash vs. Evil Dead also incorporates the slapstick tone of Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness, delivering plenty of cheesy one-liners and putting a buddy-comedy spin on the usually grim-faced tale of good versus evil. In short, Evil Dead fans won't be disappointed, as Ash vs. Evil Dead is a fitting continuation of the original three movies.

As for Anchor Bay's DVD release, here's the lowdown on season one's ten short-but-sweet episodes:

  • El Jefe - A reluctant, out-of-shape Ash Williams teams up with his Value Stop co-workers Pablo and Kelly to stop a Deadite invasion. Meanwhile, a Michigan State Police Special Agent named Amanda Fisher loses her partner in a Deadite encounter, leaving her shaken.
  • Bait - Ash suspects that the sudden reappearance of Kelly's assumed-dead mother is not what it seems. Meanwhile, Amanda finds herself hot on Ash's trail, believing him to be responsible for the Deadite chaos.
  • Books from Beyond - Ash, Pablo and Kelly visit an occult book store, where they cross paths with Amanda. After learning more about the origins of the Necronomicon, Ash summons a demon named Eligos in an attempt to stop the Deadites, but things don't go as planned.
  • Brujo - Ash, Pablo and Kelly pay a visit to Pablo's uncle Brujo, a shaman, to see if he can help them battle the Deadites. Meanwhile, Amanda teams up with a mysterious woman named Ruby, who happens to be in possession of Ash's possessed, severed hand.
  • The Host - Although they thought they had vanquished him, Eligos returns to torment Ash and his friends, possessing one of them and trying to trick Brujo into killing Ash.
  • The Killer of Killers - After witnessing Ruby's apparent demise, Amanda finds herself trapped in a diner full of Deadites, where Ash's heroic actions help to change her mind about him.
  • Fire in the Hole - After trying to enlist the help of an underground militia, Ash and Amanda find themselves trapped inside a bunker with one of Ash's old friends, who's been transformed into a Deadite. Meanwhile, Pablo and Kelly hatch a rescue plan.
  • Ashes to Ashes - Ash and Amanda return to the cabin in the woods where it all began, where they must both face the literal and figurative demons from Ash's past.
  • Bound in Flesh - Pablo and Kelly try to get a trio of waylaid hikers to safety, but encounter some Deadite trouble — and Ruby — along the way. Meanwhile, Ash deals with the unpleasant aftermath of his and Amanda's encounter at the cabin.
  • The Dark One - Ruby's true identity is revealed, and the group find themselves at the mercy of demonic forces attempting to unleash the power of the Necronomicon into the world.

Ash vs. Evil Dead definitely brings the boomstick when it comes to its technical presentation, especially when you consider that it's only standard definition. Detail is very good, highlighting things like the show's excellent practical effects and the texturing of the faux human flesh that bounds the Necronomicon; color saturation is top-notch, from Ash's trademark blue shirt to his red chainsaw; and black levels are rich and deep, with no perceivable image defects to be found. As for these discs' Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix, it ensures that the show's dialogue and use of rock music remain at the forefront of each episode, while also creating plenty of ambience for viewers, in the form of ghostly rumbles, ghastly shrieks and demonic screams.

Anchor Bay's two-disc DVD release includes the following extras:

  • Audio Commentaries - Creator/Executive Producer/Director Sam Raimi, Co-Executive Producer Ivan Raimi, Executive Producer Rob Tapert and Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell provide commentary on "El Jefe"; Executive Producer Rob Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago provide commentary on "Bait"; Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago provide commentary on "Books from Beyond," "Brujo" and "The Host"; Actors Dana Delorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago provide commentary on "Killer of Killers" and "Fire in the Hole"; Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago provide commentary on "Ashes to Ashes"; and Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana Delorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago provide commentary on "Bound in Flesh" and "The Dark One."
  • Inside the World of Ash (15:59) - Executive Producer/Showrunner Craig DiGregorio gives viewers an episode-by-episode look at the show, covering the practical effects, the guest stars, Ash's Delta 88, the show's tone, the demon character designs, the action sequences, the recreation of the original Evil Dead cabin, and the blood and gore effects.
  • How to Kill a Deadite (2:31) - Cast, crew and Evil Dead fans give their best tips on how to dispatch a Deadite.
  • Best of Ash (1:27) - Highlights of Ash's most memorable one-liners and moments from season one of the show.

Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season is available from Anchor Bay Entertainment as of August 23rd, 2016. The DVD features English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. The film is presented with English SDH and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 4 Hrs. 54 Mins.

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