Ash vs Evil Dead Set Visit Part 1: It’s All Laughs and Guts
“We few, we Band of Brothers. For he who sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.” – William Shakespeare, King Henry V
“Oh yes, there will be blood.” – Jigsaw, Saw II
When you step foot onto the set of STARZ’ “Ash vs Evil Dead”, the one think you know you’re going to come across is fake blood. But I’m not talking a few splashes here and there. Oh no, I’m talking about bucket after bucket and gallon after gallon. Remember that scene from Ghostbusters II where Ray is lowered into the sewers only find a river of pink, gelatinous slime? I imagine that if the “Ash vs Evil Dead” crew wanted to recreate that with fake blood, they would have enough leftover to film a completely different horror movie just for the fun of it.
That’s part of the joy of being on the set of “Ash vs Evil Dead”, which filmed last year in Auckland, New Zealand. The cast and crew are there to obviously create a professional show that STARZ will be proud to air. However, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t having fun while doing so. And who can blame them? When you’re making the third season to one of television’s most outrageous, gory, violent, irreverent, and audacious series, you’re bound to have a few laughs along the way.
That feeling permeated every square foot that “Ash vs Evil Dead’s” set took up. In between takes, crew members were laughing and smiling while setting up the next scene. Don Brooker and Shay Lawrence of PROFX, the company behind the FX of the show, couldn’t stop giggling with glee and beaming with pride as I got to see, and play with, their delightfully gruesome creations, including a head that was severed multiple times due to, “Ash stomping on a harp and the strings slicing through“, which created an accordion-like effect that I’m sure will be one of the highlights of the 3rd season. Even the cast couldn’t stop loving every second of the production. Dana DeLorenzo made sure to stop and talk with the crew as she walked through the set, cracking jokes and making what I can only assume were inside references, while Bruce Campbell was often found creating Snapchats with silly filters to keep fans engaged.
All this being said, there was a strange tension that hovered over the crew throughout this camaraderie. Sure, they were having a blast shooting the 3rd season…but would there be a 4th? The uncertainty palpably hung in the air and everyone’s faces went quickly from wide grins to concerned expressions when asked about the possibility of a return. Nothing was signed and, while everyone had their hopes up, it was really up in the air as to what the next year would bring.
Says producer Rob Tapert, who has been a part of the Evil Dead universe since Sam Raimi’s first film, “It’s a battle for the fourth [season]. I think STARZ as a subscriber-based network that skews a little bit older and a little bit more ethnic has issues trying to properly monetize this and grow their subscriber base out of it. They’re very happy critically how it’s been received. They love the show, they’ve been great partners, but I know in their own mind they go, ‘Well, we’re not certain it’s grown our subscriber base.’ It’s worked on Amazon Prime and it’s worked really, really well on Bit Torrent. On the weekends, when it’s on, it’s often the first or second most illegally downloaded show over the weekend, which doesn’t help anybody really.” This theme rang heavy over each interview, with each cast and crew member talking about how the fans drove STARZ to want to make this show in the first place but are also the same force that may potentially halt it from continuing.
“If you want our show to raise your subscriptions, you’d better find out how to get your company in front of people so that they know what your company is! It’s not our job to create a brand for your company. You guys do that on your own and we’ll help out with content,” says star Bruce Campbell about STARZ. However, this attitude is not meant to be aggressive. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“We’re always going to be grateful to STARZ, because they were the only ones who were willing to pony up, to give us the budget we needed, and the creative freedom,” he continues. “This is an unrated TV show and normally that’s not what you go into with television. Television is designed to reach the greatest audience possible. So, if this was cable, the edges would be shaved right off this thing. And it could actually be more popular! We are not the most popular show on television, by a long shot. Are we the most fervently watched? I’d put us top 10. You see the DVDs flying off the shelf. We sold more DVDs in the first season than any other show in five years!”
Tapert remains hopeful, telling me, “The good news is that we’re certainly in discussions for a fourth season. They’ve been great partners so far!”
So what have the cast and crew of the third season of “Ash vs Evil Dead” dreamt up for us this time? Well, the biggest reveal that’s come out so far is that Ash is a father! We’re going to be introduced to Arielle Carver-O’Neill’s character Brandy this season and see what it means for someone like Ash to pony up to that kind of responsibility.
“She’s fiercely independent and very strong-willed. She doesn’t trust easily,” says Carver-O’Neill, who tells us that her character’s foundational knowledge of Ash is less than approving. “[Brandy’s] mom told her that Ash was a crack dealer who got shanked in prison! They only thing they heard about Ash is that he was a psychotic axe murderer who killed his friends. They heard these horrible stories about him, so of course she wanted to protect her daughter from that. That’s the only experience Brandy has of Ash up until she meets him.”
Still, Ash is never one to give up when it comes to fighting for something…if he deems it worthy of his time, of course. “Ash starts doing something he doesn’t often do, which is try. He starts putting in active effort. He’s trying to be this great dad, this cool dad…just trying to be a dad! Because he has no idea. His only example is Brock and that wasn’t the most loving of relationships. He kinda fails miserably but, through some awful events, they come together and she realizes they have more in common than she thought,” she explains.
While I wasn’t given the full rundown of events that occur within this season, I was told that this time evil has “gone global” and, as can be expected, it’s all Ash’s fault. It’ll all lead up to a climax where we’re introduced to the giant monster known as Kandar, which will be the largest foe Ash has ever had to face. However, with greater demons come greater weapons and Ash will get to use what Campbell calls “the ultimate boomstick” when he comes into possession of a tank! I have to tell you readers that walking past a tank on a set is quite an interesting experience. It’s not often that you pass by one under any circumstance, so consider me intrigued to see what kinds of trouble Ash gets into when he gets his hands on this massive weapon of destruction.