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#SDCC16: Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2 Episode 1 Review



Ash Vs Evil Dead Comic ConStaring Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, Lee Majors

Directed by Rick Jacobson

Premiering on Starz in October 2016

Over the years the San Diego Comic-Con has grown a reputation of being the nerd Mecca. Year after year, all manner of fans, freaks, and people that just want to see what all the fuss is about make the journey to beautiful, sunny San Diego to spend thousands and stand (or sleep) in lines.

As a native San Diegan, I’ve personally been going since I was 12. It’s incredible to see how the convention has grown. It really is as massive as the rumors say it is. The entire downtown transforms in a celebration of all things pop culture.

Comic-Con is more than just advertisements and overpriced parking. For all you can gripe about the crowds or recount the good ol’ days when it was all about comics, Comic-Con has rightfully earned its reputation. People pay hundreds to see the show floor because there is a great variety of unique stuff there. They sleep for days on the lawn because the panels are killer. They travel hundreds of miles and book hotels months in advice to be in a place where, for one weekend at least, they aren’t the weird one for dressing up and playing pretend.

And then there’s the reason I go, which is for the exclusives. Every year, names both big and small bring exclusive first looks at their new titles. Earlier this week, Steve “Uncle Creepy” Barton had the chance to check out Blair Witch, which releases to general audiences September 16th. I’m a bit jealous, but for my part I got to check out something just as cool: “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Episode 2.01, slated to air in October. I greatly enjoyed the first season, and in my excitement to get to the room I almost got hit by a train. So, expectations were high.

Which is why I’m sad to say that while I enjoyed this first new episode of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” Season 2, I’m left feeling a bit empty. The episode picks up a year after Season 1 left off, with Ash (Bruce Campbell), Pablo (Ray Santiago), and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) all enjoying a life of leisure in Jacksonville. Meanwhile, Ruby (Lucy Lawless) realizes that The Necronomicon is too much for her. Team Ash is once again called back into action and must join up with Ruby to stop the Deadite menace that he kind of created.

Frankly, I don’t need a whole lot of plot to enjoy an Evil Dead vehicle. While you can praise the camera work, effects, and performances, no one is accusing these of being “heady.” The franchise works best when it establishes basic rules, some fun fluff, and then just lets itself run wild with it until all kinds of demons are floating around. I mean, hell, you’re SUPPOSED to kill a Deadite by chopping off its arms, legs, head, and burying it, but they kind of just wave their hand at that rule all the time. So when I say that this episode was kind of dumb, it’s not because I need it to be complicated or intelligent.

To understand why Season 2’s first episode didn’t work for me, you have to understand why Season 1 did. This show is inherently fan service, and fan service is great when it adds something to the franchise. What “Ash vs. Evil Dead” added was heart. In the previous three movies, the character of Ash was an ever building joke, going from frightened teen to a narcissist superhuman with a robot hand. I absolutely love The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness for exactly what each of those films are, and I love the series for being so wild and varied.

When “Ash vs. Evil Dead” came out, I loved it because it put Ash in a new position: the weird one. He’s still the same brash, cocky, oblivious Ash, but the world around him was played mostly straight. Pablo was a bit of a caricature, but his faith and adoration for Ash was a byproduct of him being different. Kelly, Amanda, Ruby, and the rest of the world reacted with the proper mix of “let’s get the job done” and “holy shit” to ground them in some sense of reality. When Ash was his normal self in, say, a random diner, the world would react with the same realistic level of confusion and rejection that any normal human would. It isn’t until the Deadites show up and you need Ash that you really appreciate him (or don’t because you’re too dead to care). I really loved this dynamic because it was a unique take on a hero. His selfish idiocy is an integral part to why he is the chosen one. No one else is that cocky or stupid, and that makes him the perfect candidate to destroy the ultimate evil.

In this first episode of Season 2, we get no sense of that balance at all. Kelly and Pablo are still with him being, respectively, Kelly and Pablo about things, but both are too wrapped up in their own issues to provide any kind of balance to Ash’s antics. When the scene first opens in a bar, we see Ash opening a keg with his chainsaw and shooting glasses out of the air to the cheers of a crowd. Afterwards, he’s immediately approached by a mother/daughter combo looking to schedule intimate appointments with his wiener. Cool, funny, Ash got his wish of a life of leisure in Jacksonville, no big deal. I can get behind seeing one of my favorite characters finally happy for once.

Unfortunately, once he leaves the town, everyone continues to act like extras in the “Ashley Williams Comedy Special.” We’re introduced to his father, played by Lee Majors, and we get to see where Ash got a lot of his bad habits. We also learn about about his home town and the untold repercussions of his experiences in the Evil Dead films. The problem is that everyone is set up like a caricature. From the bossy sheriff to the waitress who’s too good for this small town to the guy screaming at the bar, it’s all delivered with the same level of schlock that Ash does when he holds up a crayon drawing to serve as a police sketch. These moments are funny when played against a rational backdrop. When everyone is being stupid, it feels forced.

My big problem was with the tone and presentation, which unfortunately I can’t go over more of without spoiling anything. So let me take a moment to step back and say that I didn’t at all hate this episode. There’s way more than enough good stuff to make it fun. They go back to a lot of practical effects work this season, so watching the creative ways they make blood fly is always a treat. And shit, do they make the blood fly. As a Californian, I shudder to think how much water they used to spray all of that fake blood. The new monsters are really creepy, exuding both power and menace. They have the most noticeable CGI element, but it works very well for their design. As always, the performances are all top-notch, with Majors feeling like a new natural fit to the show.

I hope that Season 2 will be a load of fun, but from what I saw, it was just enjoyable. My fear is that, hot off of the success of the blood, gore, and cheese of Season 1, they will just try to ramp that shit up to 11. Let’s not forget that what makes all of that fun are the elements that ground us and make all of that seem so extreme. When shit flies off the rails, it’s because nothing was there to hold it down. Perhaps the euphoria of fan hype and the pure charm of Bruce Campbell can elevate media as we know it to a new plane where constant schlock is the new meta. As it was tonight, I didn’t see it.



  • Episode 2.01
User Rating 3.55 (11 votes)
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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5


Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

User Rating 3.25 (12 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters



Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

User Rating 4.1 (21 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror




Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods

The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.


  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom


In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

User Rating 4 (17 votes)
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