• Ash Vs Evil Dead - The Complete First Season

    Released by: Starz/Anchor Bay
    Released on: August 23rd, 2016.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Bruce Campbell, Lucy Lawless, Jill Marie Jones, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo
    Year: 2015
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    When word got out that Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi were brining Ash back in television form, rather than in a new Evil Dead feature film, there was plenty of concern voiced loud and clear by the franchise’ very vocal fan community. And for good reason. There was, after all, a very good chance that the property would be further homogenized after already being somewhat tamed down for Army Of Darkness. When the trailers and promo spots started hitting the web, however, some of the naysayers started to clam up. This looked good! Maybe this would work after all…

    The series takes place years after the events in Evil Dead (Army Of Darkness isn’t referenced here as it is owned by Universal). Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell, of course), spends his days working as a clerk at ValueShop and his nights bopping about with ladies of ill repute and drinking booze in his trailer. You’d think the loss of his hand might be a detriment here, but nope, it allows him to make up cool stories to impress the floozies about how he lost it in the first place! Ash being Ash, however, unwittingly recites a passage from the Necronomicon, the book of the dead that he keeps in the trunk of his car, and in doing so summons the demons that have plagued him in the past.

    Ash decides to split, but before he can is co-workers, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly, (Dana DeLorenzo), join up with him. Pablo thinks that Ash is the one known as ‘El Hefe,’ a mighty warrior type, while Kelly just wants to know what’s going on with her family. Meanwhile, a cop named Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) and her partner investigate some strange events at an otherwise normal suburban home. One of Ash’s girlfriends is there, possessed, and she makes short work of the partner. Fisher starts to think that Ash is the one behind this killing and a few others that have happened in town, and so she sets out to find him with some help from a mysterious woman named Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless).

    Ash, Kelly and Pablo hit the road in hopes of stopping the evil that follows them, but of course, it won’t be easy, especially with Fisher and Knowby on their trail and with the demon Eligos and scores of deadites laying in waiting. It all stems back to that cabin in the woods…

    Ash Vs Evil Dead, for the most part, hits the right mix of horror and humor. It’s goofy, gory and frequently very over the top but there are moments where the series is genuinely intense, even a bit frightening. Sam Raimi only directed the first episode but his stamp is all over the series. That means you should expect some quirky camera angles and lots of movement, frantic pacing and some impressive moments of inspired lunacy. The effects are generally well done, though there is a fair bit of CGI that is obviously just that, and the makeup work is often impressive, particularly when it comes to the appearance of the deadites and the demons that populate the series.

    Where the series really benefits, however, is the casting. It won’t surprise anyone to see Campbell so comfortable in his role. He plays Ash as older, though not necessarily wiser, which makes sense given how much time has passed. The sarcasm, the dopey one liners, the quirky smile – it’s all there, this is Campbell in his zone. It might come as more of a surprise to see how well Campbell gels with the other characters. DeLorenzo and Santiago, essentially Ash’s sidekicks here, are both a lot of fun and bring their own unique traits to their respective characters. Their back stories wind up playing a pretty large part in the storyline as well, and these relative newcomers are a kick to watch. Likewise, Jill Marie Jones as the lady cop is really strong and Lucy Lawless works well here too. Ash remains Ash throughout the series, no one would really want him to change, so surrounding him with these different characters that do evolve a fair bit throughout the season makes sense and gives the series a bit more meat on its bones.

    With each episode running more or less half an hour in length, the episodes don’t overstay their welcome. There is some repetition here that might lose some of its charm after a while so in this case, the running time is pretty much perfect for the material. It’s weird seeing something like the Evil Dead franchise shift from film to digital video, there’s a glossy, flat look to it that definitely sets it apart from the earlier films chapters, but for the most part this not only works, but it works very well.


    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 optional an 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.

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

    -El Jefe: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Bob Tapert, Bruce Campbell
    -Bait: Tapert, Campbell, Dana Delorenzo, Ray Santiago
    -Books From Beyond: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago
    -Brujo: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago
    -The Host: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago
    -The Killer of Killers: Jill Marie Jones, Delorenzo, Santiago
    -Fire In The Hole: Jones, Delorenzo, Santiago
    -Ashes To Ashes: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago, Jones
    -Bound in Flesh: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago, Lucy Lawless
    -The Dark One: Campbell, Delorenzo, Santiago, Lucy Lawless

    These tracks, the first one in particular with the two Raimi’s on it, are a lot of fun. On that first track the history that these guys have shared for years is obvious in the sense of humor and good natured ribbing that takes place throughout. At the same time, there’s a lot of great information here too about bringing Ash back, how they wound up opting to do it on television rather than another movie, what they were going for in terms of tone and quite a bit more. The commentaries that are in the episodes that follow are also solid, as Campbell has a great rapport with the other cast members. DeLorenzo, Santiago and Jones have all got great senses of humor and really seem to have enjoyed working on the series, and it’s fun to hear Lucy Lawless join in in the last two episodes as well. These are well paced, informative and frequently pretty entertaining.

    Aside from that, the set also includes three featurettes, the first of which is the sixteen minute Ash Inside The World. This includes plenty of cast and crew interviews and some fun behind the scenes footage as they cover bringing Raimi in to work on the first episode, the different characters that appear in the series, the effects, what it was like on set and quite a bit more. This is a lot of fun, it makes you wish it were longer. In How To Kill A Deadite, Bruce Campbell spends two and a half minutes talking about some of the kills seen in the movie and showing off some of the prop weapons that were used in those scenes. It’s not particularly substantive but it’s fun. The third featurette is a quick ninety second montage of some of Ash’s best moments and one liners from the show.

    Animated menus and chapter stops are included for each of the two discs in the set. Those discs fit inside a standard sized Blu-ray keep case that in turn fits inside a cardboard slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    Ash Vs Evil Dead was a surprisingly solid return to form for the Evil Dead franchise. Campbell is clearly in his element here, doing what he does best in that way that only he can and the supporting cast is frequently just as good. The movie often goes for the gore in ways that few TV shows would even attempt, but that wicked sense of humor that has always made the Evil Dead movies so entertaining is still a huge part of this too. The Blu-ray release from Starz/Anchor Bay looks great, sounds even better and contains a pretty solid array of supplements – highly recommended!

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

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Scyther's Avatar
      Scyther -
      Show was rocky at first, but I grew to dig it, and am glad I stuck around. Of course, Dana DeLorenzo made it a lot easier to keep watching!
    1. sukebanboy's Avatar
      sukebanboy -
      I still say someone shiuld get Raimi to cut this series down into a single movie length. Get rid of the filler and stuff that didnt quite work and you would have annabsolutwly stellar 2 hr movie..
    1. moviegeek86's Avatar
      moviegeek86 -
      There wasn't that much filler though and the pacing was fucking great.

      Those 5 hours fucking flew by. Raimi "shiuld" keep the series the way it is.