Ash vs Evil Dead, the 10-episode continuation of the Evil Dead franchise, premieres on Starz this Halloween. The first episode was made available as a critical screener, so I’m here to give you the spoiler-free rundown on what to expect for the return of your favorite chainsaw-handed groovy hero.
Expect it to be the 10-part Army of Darkness sequel you’ve been waiting for.
Ash vs Evil Dead does for the Evil Dead franchise what Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp did for Wet Hot American Summer. The episodic format initially takes getting used to, but once you’re acclimated, it’s no less than a joyride, even if it goes over the heads of casual viewers and critics. “This one is for the fans,” Bruce Campbell said on a call with reporters and Inverse. If you’ve seen Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness multiple times, Ash vs Evil Dead is the ultimate fan service. You won’t be able to conceal your smile as Ash struts around spouting his customary blowhard one-liners or is triumphantly reunited with his trusty weapons.
Expect callbacks to your favorite Evil Dead series scenes.
Remember the Army of Darkness scene where Ash is in the windmill and an army of miniature Ashes are terrorizing him? What about his job at S-Mart? The writers sure do. Callbacks abound in Ash vs Evil Dead, and the tone is spot-on. Although horror-comedy has become a genre in its own right, between shows like Scream Queens and films like Cabin in the Woods, modern horror-comedies are sly and aware. You might have forgotten the Evil Dead franchise’s uniquely earnest approach: It knows it’s ridiculous, but at the same time, the writers aren’t trying to prove anything. They’re just taking you on a hell of a ride.
Expect it to take advantage of being on Starz.
In the first episode alone, Ash gets some sugar, baby, after pounding some white wine, and no fewer than three or four heads explode. Seriously, there are a lot of head explosions — no minor decapitations here, but geysers of blood. “It’s the subtlety, you know?” Campbell said. Its tone is absurd enough not to feel like gore-porn, but there is a nifty nod to perhaps the most memorable Evil Dead gore moment: the pencil ankle-stab scene. It’s a different body part I won’t spoil, but this maybe isn’t a show to watch while eating.
Expect Ash to still mumble things he doesn’t want to say.
“He has no special skills,” said Campbell. “He’s not trained, he’s not part of any government agency. You watch and think, ‘That could be me.’ It’s the guys who work at 7-Eleven. I’m sick of guys who are ripped to shreds and full of skills. I’m bored of that guy.” Luckily, 30 years down the line, Ash is still not that guy. In one of the best lines of the pilot that I won’t spoil, he once again speed-mumbles something important involving the Necronomicon.
Expect him to have sidekicks.
Ash is a bit of a lone wolf, but now he’s got Pablo and Kelly, his fellow employees at Value Shop (Ash has moved up in life from S-Mart). Luckily, their chemistry works, as Kelly shoots down his Ash-like pickup lines and Pablo is appropriately wowed by his history.
Expect those sweeping evil camera shots to still be in play.
You know the ones I’m talking about. Those Blair Witch style shots with menacing wind noises in the background to convey evil afoot. They’re basically the equivalent of a kid playing with a toy truck and mumbling “rrrr” driving noises under their breath. These shots always makes me want to mumble “evil, evil,” which I may or may not do when I watch Evil Dead with friends. Find your inner kid again and mumble it to your heart’s content in Ash vs Evil Dead.
Expect Bruce Campbell to be a boss.
This one almost goes without saying, but actors who become famous for playing particular iconic characters are usually keen to put those characters in their rearview mirrors. But Campbell is clearly having a blast returning to Ash — “It’s probably the most fun character I’ve ever played,” he said. He’s not dragging his feet to return, nor is his return sad because he seems to have no other career options. He’s 100 percent down to be Ash again, because who wouldn’t want to be?