• Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season Two



    Released by: Lionsgate
    Released on: August 22nd, 2017.
    Director: Rick Jacobson/Tony Tilse/Michael J. Bassett/Mark Beesley
    Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, Ted Raimi, Lee Majors, Ellen Sandweiss
    Year: 2017
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Series:

    Picking up pretty much exactly where the first season left off, the second season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead beings in Jacksonville, Florida where Ash (Bruce Campbell, of course), is partying it up while Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) do all the dirty work. This doesn’t last long, however, because after a deadite appears Ash figures that the truce they’d made with Ruby (Lucy Lawless) has been broke. Ash figures he knows where Ruby will try to find him – his home town of Elk Grove, Michigan, and so he and his two travelling companions load into the car and make the drive. Upon their arrival they meet Ash’s father, Brock (Lee Majors), and it becomes pretty clear to both Pablo and Kelly where Ash gets his attitude from. They also learn that everyone in Elk Grove thinks Ash is insane after word got back that he hacked up four of his friends in a cabin in Tennessee a few decades back – the locals refer to him as Ashy Slashy.

    When they meet up with Ruby and learn that she hid the Necronomicon inside a corpse at het morgue. Why? Because the creepy kids she helped to create have turned against her. Ash and Kelly head to the morgue to get the book while Pablo and Ruby stay put to deal with the creepy kids. As the story progresses we find out that Ash’s old flame Linda (Michelle Hurd) is married to a sheriff (Stephen Lovatt) who would really rather see Ash take off and never come back – and then the Delta gets possessed and goes on a rampage. We also find out about Ash’s old pal Chet (Ted Raimi) and what happened to his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss).

    As the season progresses, Pablo starts to experience waking nightmares, the demon Baal (Joel Tobeck) arrives on Earth and starts making things difficult for our heroes, with Ash winding up framed for a murder that he didn’t commit. When he wakes up from a nightmare and finds himself in an asylum under the care of Doctor Peakcock, things only get weirder before the big time travelling finale that ties everything in to the first Evil Dead movie.

    Not only is this second season of Ash Vs. Evil Dead much gorier than the first (or anything else on television, for that matter – this show gets RED!), it’s also quite a bit funnier, a fair bit scarier and it’s much better in the pacing department. In the first season, Ash had almost zero character development. He remained the constant while Kelly and Pablo sort of evolved through their experiences working with him. While the remains the case for much of the running time of this second season, there are at least a few moments here that do change Ash, and that makes for interesting viewing in and of itself. In short, this second go round manages to take what great about the more uneven first season and run with it, resulting in a much more satisfying ten episode run.

    As to the acting, this was clearly made as a showcase for Campbell’s talents as a comedic actor and his status as a horror movie icon. He’s great in the part – he’s a smart ass, he’s dominated by his id, he’s not the sharpest tool in the drawer – but he’s a good guy to have on your side in a fight. He has good chemistry with Dana DeLorenzo (who has a few genuinely fierce moments in this season that really make her stand out) and Ray Santiago (who is mostly comic relief, though to be fair there are some more intense horrific moments that revolve around his character here where he shines). Lucy Lawless is also a lot of fun in her part, and it’s great to see Lee Majors perfectly cast as Ash’s father. Ted Raimi is a kick as Ash’s hard drinking bartender pal – the two of them seem to have basically stopped evolving once they turned eighteen and we get some genuinely funny moments between them – and seeing Ellen Sandweiss return in a way that not only makes sense but helps to further the story is also a nice touch.

    Production values are strong across the board. There are some moments here and there where the CGI is a bit questionable but thankfully this isn’t a constant. There are a lot of impressive practical effects set pieces in the show that work really well, and some really solid stunt work here too. The original music composed for the series by Joseph LoDuca is excellent and the series’ choice if seventies and eighties hard rock tracks suits things nicely as well.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The AVC encoded 1.78.1 1080p anamorphic widescreen transfers given the episodes in this set do a really good job of showing off the series' intended look. Detail is very strong, better than the broadcast versions ever were – it’s often times very impressive. There are some minor problems with mpeg compression artifacts and minor aliasing but no heavy edge enhancement while black levels stay strong and shadow detail remains consistently impressive. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, never too pink or waxy, and never showing off any problems with the authoring or encoding. The discs have been encoded quite well, generally speaking, and the picture quality is strong enough.

    Ash Vs Evil Dead arrives on Blu-ray with an English language Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mix, with an optional Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track in Spanish and a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track in French. The lossless track provided here has some really good ambience and it’s basically reference quality. Channel separation is more constant than you might expect and there's enough of it here to ensure that you'll notice it. Dialogue is perfectly clear and the levels are consistently well balanced. The soundtrack has good depth to it and the sound effects an appropriate amount of punch. The low end is tight and strong without burying the dialogue and the score has good range and presence to it as well. In short, the sound on this release is amazing. Optional subtitles are provided in Spanish, French, English SDH.

    The main extras for this release are the commentary tracks, one for each of the following episodes in the collection, laid out as follows:

    Home: Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Lucy Lawless
    The Morgue: Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Lucy Lawless
    Last Call: Rob Tapert, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless
    Trapped Inside: Rob Tapert, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless
    Home Again: Rick Jacobson, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Lucy Lawless
    Second Coming: Rick Jacobson, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless

    The tracks are a lot of fun. There’s always a sense of humor here and they give you a good feel for just how well everyone who participates seems to get along with everyone else. Lots of talk here about the gore, the character arcs, bringing some of the elements from the original Evil Dead films into the show for another go-round and lots more.

    Aside from the commentaries, there are also some featurettes included here, all of which are found on the second disc.

    Season 2 First look – a two minutes preview of the second season with some quick comments from the cast.

    Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead – These are quick little episode specific behind the scenes pieces that run about two minutes on average. They’re not deep but they do feature some behind the scenes footage and some insight from the cast and the crew members.

    Up Your Ash – a two and a half minute piece that looks at the effects work that went into the ‘not the butt’ sequence from the Morgue episode with insight from the writers and the effects technicians that made this stand out moment happen.

    Women Who Kick Ash – a two minute piece that highlights the strong female characters in the show and the actresses that play them.

    Puppets Are Cute – a quick one minute piece that showcases the effects involved in the puppet scene complete with some behind the scenes footage.

    Dawn of the Spawn – a minute and a half of insight into how Ruby’s spawn were created for use in the first few episodes of this season using mostly practical effects work.

    Bringing Henrietta Back – a minute and a half examination of what was involved in bringing the infamous Henrietta character back to the series and what went into getting the suit and prosthetics right for it.

    The Delta – two minutes on the importance of Ash’s car to the series and the movies that inspired it.

    How to Kill a Deadite – a two minute piece that, as the title suggests, explores the different ways that the deadite characters are dealt with in this season.

    Fatality Mash-Up – a forty-nine second highlight reel of the season’s goriest moments.

    Animated menus and episode selection are included on each disc. Both discs fit inside an eco-case style Blu-ray case and that in turn fits inside a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Ash Vs. Evil Dead Season Two is a better, stronger batch of episodes than we got the first time. It’s an insanely gory mix of horror and comedy delivered by a great cast with solid direction and excellent pacing. The Blu-ray release from Lionsgate looks and sounds great and has a really nice selection of supplements to accompany the ten episodes that make up this run. Highly recommended!

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!