Celebrating ‘Ash Vs. Evil Dead’ Returning For Third Season
Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell go for the jugular and the funny bone in Starz original series
In 1981, Detroit buddies Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert had raised enough money to make the indie splatter horror film “The Evil Dead.” They never expected that more than three decades later they would be continuing the storyline with an original Starz series. The third season of "Ash Vs. Evil Dead" premieres this Sunday.
Bruce Campbell has put up with a lot of abuse at the hands of his friend Sam Raimi dating all the way back to high school. But Raimi especially loves to torture his actor on camera putting Campbell’s alter ego of Ash Williams through bloodbaths, demon possession, amputation, and even getting pulled into the butt of a corpse (in perhaps one of the funniest scenes ever to play on a TV screen).
But when they created Ash for the first “The Evil Dead” movie, they did not realize just how much of a survivor Ash would prove to be. He came back from the dead (well, he appeared to have died) to star in the 1987 “Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn,” which somehow manages to be both a sequel to and a remake of “The Evil Dead.” And then in 1992, Ash pops up in medieval times to fight Deadites yet again. It is the latter two films, and "Army of Darkness" in particular, that would come to define the tone and style of Ash and his Evil Dead opponents.
As Raimi and Campbell have worked their way through the films, they have honed to perfection their particular brand of splatstick, a blend of splatter gore and slapstick comedy (note the influence of the Three Stooges and Looney Toons). And after letting Ash rest in peace for more than two decades, they finally resurrected the character in 2015 for an original series on Starz. And what a delight to see that they returned to the character with an outrageous sense of fun and audacious originality stemming in part from Campbell’s willingness to poke fun at himself as the unlikeliest of heroes.
From the first teasers for the first season of “Ash Vs. Evil Dead,” fans like myself were hooked. The series’ sense of humor nailed the tone that we had come to love from Ash and delivered on the outrageous gore and killer, quotable one-liners. Every episode seemed to have a moment where we did a collective, “Oh no they’re not going to go there… OMG! They just did!” It was fan ecstasy.
Raimi and Campbell tackled the series with a savvy sense of knowing their creative property well and knowing what their fans wanted. The result is one of the most gleefully entertaining shows ever made. It also helped that Starz was willing to give them free reign to take the show to splatter gore extremes that were usually hilarious but sometimes also hit moments of actual creepy scares. During the first two seasons, I would plan my life around the debut of each new show and would savor every moment when it aired and then watch it again.
On Sunday, Feb. 25, season three of “Ash Vs. Evil” premieres and Ash discovers that he has a daughter and Evil is coming back to get her. Arielle Carver-O’Neill joins the cast as Ash’s daughter Brandy while Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo return as Ash’s makeshift family of Pablo and Kelly respectively. The fabulous Lucy Lawless (formerly TV’s “Xena the Warrior Princess”) also returns taking on a new persona as she tries to execute her evil plan. Also new to the cast will be Lindsay Farris as Dalton, a member of some sort of secret order. But honestly, all we really need to sustain us is Campbell’s Ash and his attitude.
I am planning a party to celebrate Ash’s return and you can check out the Pizzanomicon recipe I use to create the perfect food but you need to eat it before it eats your soul. You can also use these pizza skulls and call them Deadite Pizza Heads for added evil treats. Although I find pizza dough too bready for the recipe and would suggest pastry dough for something lighter and let your imagination go crazy for what to fill the heads with. You could make dessert ones with cherry blood filling.
Check out my podcast with Bruce Campbell from before last season's premiere and follow Campbell on Twitter @GroovyBruce, you won't regret it.