I hate horror. It scares the sh-- out of me. But Starz's new horror-comedy series Ash vs Evil Dead is so bloody fun I'll endure the explosive gore and grisly frights with minimal whimpering.
The series, which premieres on Halloween at 9/8c, acts as a sequel to the cult classic Evil Dead franchise that launched the careers of director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell. When you consider that it's been 34 years since the first movie premiered and that fans are still hungry for more, that is some powerful B-movie mojo.
Campbell reprises his role as Ashley "Ash" Williams, a selfish, smarmy loser who has nothing to recommend him except his baffling ability to survive attacks by evil spirits. A good 30 years after he thought he was rid of the so-called Deadites that had slaughtered all of his friends in a cabin, the aging Ash must once again take up his chainsaw-for-a-hand and boomstick (aka shotgun) to make sure the dead stay dead.
Here's why Ash vs. Evil Dead is worth overcoming your fears and embracing its special blend of camp and corpses:
Its scares won't swallow your soul Any horror aficionado would snicker at the implication that Ash vs Evil Dead is even remotely frightening, despite the presence of dead-eyed zombies, well-timed jolts and enough blood and gore to rival a Tarantino revenge flick. The series includes shocks aplenty, but none of them have time to stick in the face of the comedy elements, which, along with the horror elements, comprise the double helix of the franchise's DNA.
Ash is a different kind of antihero While we're used to the Don Drapers and Walter Whites of the TV world, Ash is not one whose innermost thoughts are characterized by Sturm und Drang. Oh, he's despicable to be sure, but he doesn't take himself seriously enough for us to do so. In fact, his particular brand of unsubtle caddishness and unflagging confidence becomes lovable. He's neither subtle nor politically correct, bless his heart, and that means almost every crass line out of his mouth is gold.
The camerawork will make you swoon Don't be fooled by the franchise's camp reputation. Raimi, who returns to direct the first episode, is inspired when it comes to creating dynamic and electrifying shots. In particular, his canted angles and whooshing-across-terrain shots are back. And in one scene when Michigan State cop Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) has a run-in with a Deadite, the play of light and shadow creates an atmosphere of maddening suspense.
The zombies don't really act like zombies It's true that the evil spirits released by the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (the Book of the Dead) can possess the bodies of dead people whose complexions run the gamut from gray to decayed. But they don't crave flesh (or brainsss!) and are so incredibly, annoyingly chatty and creepily cunning that you will wish you had your own chainsaw to dismember them. Also, the spirits can reanimate other inanimate objects, which creates some surprisingly fun and innovative fight scenes.
Xena! Xena! Xena! Former Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless, who continues to be flawless and ageless, appears in a mysterious supporting role in which she demonstrates her badassery against Deadites. We really don't need more than that, do we?
The callbacks add an extra dimension You can enjoy Ash vs Evil Dead without having watched the films that came before, but if you want to double your pleasure, revisit the films via streaming or read our primer. For example, the arming-up montage sequence in which Ash tightens various leather straps onto his body is both comforting and hilarious because the series plays off that familiarity and twists it. Similarly, characters' lines and poses, shots framed and even background object provide entertaining Easter eggs.
Delightful action scenes like these:
Ash vs Evil Dead premieres on Halloween Saturday at 9/8c on Starz.