HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season
HTS Overall Score:84
Ash Williams and Sam Raimi have long been rumored to be heading back to the big screen. Back in the early 2000’s there was a supposed horror collaboration between Freddy, Jason and Ash, in a big gore fest slasher bonanza, but sadly that direction of the franchise never really got off the ground. However, Bruce Campbell and Raimi have been working hard over the years to bring back the “Evil Dead” series, even going so far as to being producers on the new remake a couple years back (which was a surprisingly decent horror flick). Now Raimi and Campbell have gotten it done and went straight to the small screen with a 10 episode series that packs a LOT of punch in a 28 minute (average) runtime per episode. Blending 2 parts “Evil Dead” with 3 parts “Army of Darkness” personalities, the show is both goofy and horrific, and while it struggles during the first 2 episodes, garners some rather large support by the fan base and really starts to flourish in the last 1/3rd of the show.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) is living a life far devoid of his previous excitement. 30 years after the events of the cabin (it’s unsure whether “Army of Darkness” plays into the lore or whether this picks up after the events of “Evil Dead 2”) and Ash is still a stock boy (instead of S-Mart it’s ValueMart, most likely because of the rights issue from Universal owning “Army of Darkness) regaling local bar goers his exploits from a younger day. Although they’re less terrifying and more fantastical than the actual truth. After getting a BIT too high one night with a young woman, he ends up trying to impress her by reading a few lines of “poetry” from the Necronomicon, thus unleashing the wonders of the deadites once more. This time they’re not just localized around the cabin. Being that Ash unleashed them into the general populace the nasty little spirits are following the book around and causing havoc wherever he goes.
Aided by a couple of ValueMart co-workers named Pablo (Ray Santiago) and hottie Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), Ash is on a mission to decrypt the Necronomicon and hopefully find some sort of reversal spell along the way. To add a few roadblocks in his way is Amanda (Jill Marie Jones), a disgraced cop who is convinced that Ash is responsible for all of the death and carnage that is happening around him, as well as Ruby (Lucy Lawless), a mysterious unknown who is stalking Ash for her own mysterious reasons.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77586[/img]As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is a bit of a hybrid comedy and dark horror show, taking pieces from the original “Evil Dead” lore and blending in the more slapstick style of humor that permeated “Army of Darkness” (although not nearly as funny, which is a hard hill to climb being that “Army of Darkness” is one of my favorite movies of all time). Ironically the TV show (as cheap as it is to produce comparatively) is a MILES bigger and more expansive than either of the first two movies put together. Tagging on to the ending of the “Evil Dead 2”, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” manages to hit most of the right buttons and expand on the lore given to us from the horrific movies. While the show manages to hit MOST of the right buttons, it does stumble and fall a few times as well. The first 2 episodes are REALLY kind of painful, with cheesy dialog (even cheesier than I think Raimi meant for) and the forcing together of Ash, Pablo and Kelly just feels forced. As the series progresses cheesiness starts to fade and the darker edge of the show comes out to lay a few cuts down, but there are moments that will make you wince throughout as it falls back into familiar patterns.
In many ways “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is a success. It’s mostly funny, and is a complete and utter gore fest from beginning to end. Heads get chopped off, limbs sawed in half, old ladies turned deadite sliced and diced. CGI blood is blended with a TON (and I mean a metric ton) of practical effects. Sometimes the CGI blood looks ridiculously obvious, especially when put up against the nastier and more creepy looking practical blood and guts that gets thrown around like it’s the prom scene in “Carrie”. Ash is not as charming as he is in “Army of Darkness’, neither as series as he is in “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2”, but seems to embody a little bit of each blended with his character from “Burn Notice”. The rest of the characters don’t seem very logical and fleshed out until the final act of the series, when the crew actually make it back to the cabin to finish off the Necronomicon once and for all.
The episode list:
Books from Beyond
The Killer of Killers
Fire in the Hole
Ashes to Ashes
Bound in Flesh
The Dark One
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77594[/img]“Ash vs. Evil Dead” is almost the antithesis of the original “Evil Dead” films. The films are shot on actual FILM stock and are just awash with heavy grain due to the low light and cheap budget. The show, on the other hand, is shiny and all digital, with crisp textures and great looking fine detail. Intimate details like clothing, or faces covered in brain matter and blood, come through fantastically. Even low light shots show off some impressive detail in the dark. The digital photography can look a smoothed out and a overly glossy at times, but the real detractor is excessive digital noise that swarms at times and then vanishes in other scenes. Sights with low light suffer the most, but there are quite a few times I noticed the mosquito noise even in the most brightly lit scenes, making thing that this is definitely source related. The disc is given a health mid 20’s bitrates and even spikes into the low 30’s at times, which allows for a decent amount of breathing room for the encode to look as good as it can get.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=77602[/img]The 2 disc set for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” sports an INCREDIBLY bombastic and aggressive 7.1 Dolby TrueHD track that just hums with latent energy. Powerful and throbbing with nonstop LFE, the 7.1 experience doesn’t disappoint in any way, shape, or form. Dialog is always crisp and clean, devoid of any distortions or balance issues at all, and the surrounds are ALWAYS buzzing with some kind of chatter. Ambient noises such as the cabin creaks and moans, or the thunderous roar of Ash’s shotgun blasting a whole in the trailer ceiling, all come through with stunning clarity and a rather hot balance with the rest of the mix. Despite the hot use of the surrounds, they tend to blend well with the rest and the directional queues of the creepy track is spot on perfect for the genre. The bigger and badder the sound system, the better this track is going to sound. A+ reference material all the way.
• Audio Commentaries (for every episode!)
• Ash Inside the World
• How to Kill a Deadite
• Best of Ash
“Ash vs. Evil” dead is a strange hybridization of the first two horror films, blended with some of the absurdity and cheeky humor of “Army of Darkness”, creating warped “splatstick” show that certainly seems to have a good bit of life in it still. The opening act of the show almost made me turn the TV off and throw this disc in the dumpster, but after the rocky start the show rapidly becomes better and better, to the point where the last few episodes were really pulling me into the story. Gore level is hight, stupidity is high, Bruce Campbell’s chin is back in action and season 2 looks like it will make the stakes higher than the “Evil Dead” series has ever gone before. Video is generally very pleasing, and the audio is PHENOMINAL, but I have to tip my hat to Raimi and crew on the extras. Especially the inclusion of a commentary track for EVERY single episode. Complete with some fascinating little tidbits that had me more engrossed in them than the actual episodes.
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo
Created by: Sam Raimi
Written By: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Dominic Dierkes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Spanish DD 2.0, French DD 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 294 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 23rd 2016
Buy Ash vs. Evil Dead: The Complete First Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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