We first heard the news that the premium pay channel Starz was resurrecting Ash and the Deadites back in November of last year. Six long months later, having been prepping the half-hour episodic series in New Zealand, its three producers – Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and Rob Tapert – have surfaced to give us some enticing intel on how the iconic demon demolisher will be coming to us weekly from now on.
“Ash vs. Evil Dead” is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. There will be 10 half-hour episodes. Raimi directed the first one, and though they are still filming, we do know a different director will be helming the season finale.
Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario, and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity, and the terrors of the Deadites. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal.
Stay tuned for the word-for-word, but yesterday we took a few notes during the press conference, and here is what the guys had to say.
First of all, and unequivocally, there is no Ash without Bruce. While the character was scripted in the first movie to be a certain way, the manner in which Bruce brought him to life in the second and third films, said Sam, “That’s all Bruce. Bruce created Ash.” When asked if, somewhere down the line of this TV series, Bruce gets busy with other projects, or perhaps just gets tired, “Would you hand the reins over to another actor?” he said, quite emphatically, “I’m not going anywhere!”
All three guys have had so much film and television experience since doing The Evil Dead movies that they all agreed it’s so much fun to bring The Evil Dead universe back in front of the world “applying all the skills we’ve learned and honed,” said Sam. Bruce said, “If you’re looking at The Evil Dead [the first movie], you are seeing me at my worst as an actor. Thirty years later, I’m so much better – but everyone knows me at my worst.”
Bruce, Sam, and Rob all said that no matter how much amazing, successful, and popular work they do – Sam’s Spider-Man films, Bruce’s stints on popular TV series, Rob’s shaping of “Spartacus” [also for Starz] – and no matter where they go, someone inevitably asks about The Evil Dead – “When’s Evil Dead coming back?” And while the gory, R-rated 2013 remake (which they all agree they liked) finally quelled some of the din, there were still grumblings from fandom.
Here are a few juicy tidbits to help keep fans quiet and hopeful until the series premieres in the fall.
• Sam said that while the Necronomicon does hold the power of time travel, they haven’t yet explored that in the first season. Maybe they will in the second or subsequent ones. As for whether the series acknowledges Ash went back to medieval times in Evil Dead 3, Sam said, “We will neither confirm nor deny that. There’s the politician’s answer for you.”
• Rob said the Deadites will be the same but heightened and made more badass thanks to all the great technology now available as well as advancements in practical effects. “New entities will also be introduced.”
• “TV is structured differently than film,” said Bruce, “so there is much bigger story” and more satisfying character arcs. Ash is definitely not “sane” after all he’s been through, and even though it’s 30 years since his last encounter with the Deadites, he’s still looking over his shoulder constantly. And yes, he’s keeping that chainsaw oiled up. When it comes to sound effects, Bruce definitely wants the chainsaw to have “that analog sound” – no digital. “I still have the sound from the original film,” said Sam.
• Since Ash is living and working in the real world, the question came up (especially since this is episodic TV) – “Will Ash find love? He’s been pretty unlucky…” To which the guys laughed, and Sam quipped, “I’d say the girls he’s been in love with have been slightly unluckier than him!”
• The show is serialized, but each episode will stand alone. This way, even the most casual of casual viewers can drop in and not be lost. As for the 30-minute format, all three guys love it and asked for it… Rob was pleasantly surprised when Starz agreed to let them do it this way. Sam said, “This way there is nonstop action. No padding.” Bruce agreed: “This is not watered down for television.” They mentioned the violence, blood, gore, nudity, sex, and no-holds-barred everything in “Spartacus” as an example of Starz’s fearlessness about airing “Ash vs. Evil Dead” as it should be seen. Rob added that Roger Murray is creating the makeups and gore effects (he won an Oscar for his work on the Narnia Chronicles but also did effects on “Spartacus,” and The Evil Dead 2013 remake to name a few) and assured us, “Expectations will be met.”
• In closing, Bruce cracked, “The Evil Dead will not die!”
The cast is led by Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) in the role of Ash Williams; Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) as Ruby, a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks; Jill Marie Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner; Ray Santiago (“Touch,” Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick; and Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past.
Sam Raimi is directing the first episode of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which he wrote with Ivan Raimi (Darkman, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell), Craig DiGregorio (“Workaholics,” “Chuck”), and Tom Spezialy (“Chuck,” “Reaper,” “Desperate Housewives”). Ivan Raimi will co-executive produce, and Aaron Lam (“Spartacus”) will serve as producer.
Join the conversation with #AshvsEvilDead and #STARZ.