Sunday, 13 March 2016

Ash vs Evil Dead (Season 1)

Ash vs. Evil Dead; horror comedy series, USA / New Zealand / Australia, 2015; D: Michael J. Bassett, David Frazee, Michael Hurst, Sam Raimi, S: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless

After so many confrontations with the evil dead, Ash, now in his 50s, works in a mart as a salesclerk. However, after consuming marijuana, he tries to impress a girl by reading out from the banned Book of the Dead in his trailer, and thus inadvertently again summons the forces of the evil dead, who start attacking by taking the shape of zombies. His two employees from the mart, Pablo and Kelly, join him and go on a trip to the old cabin, in order to burry the Book of the Dead there. There is a major showdown - but Ash accepts the proposal of a demon lady to sign a truce and live in Jacksonville in peace, neglecting her plan to unleash the demons.

23 years after the 3rd instalment of the "Evil Dead" cult film series, "The Army of Darkness", director Sam Raimi decided to continue the franchise in the form of a TV series, leaving the directing position to 'lease directors', who did quite a good job, delivering a rather good fun without 'empty walk', though not without omissions. The pilot episode is, as expected, excellent, and manages to intrigue the viewers with a typical sly blend of horror and (sophisticated) humor, which made the last two parts of the film series so popular in the first place: Ash (great Bruce Campbell) is in his 50s, has a prosthetic wooden arm, but is still an obnoxious womanizer. His attempt to flirt with Kelly, an employee in the mart, is howlingly funny: "I know, it sounds crazy, doesn't it? I'm old, grey, 30 pounds overweigth, but it doesn't matter: at some point, the thought would have occurred to you." As he tries to stroke her hair, she grabs him by his arm and says: "Touch me again, and you will need another wooden arm", whereas Ash just gives the darnedest response: "OK, another wooden hand in place of my real hand or another wooden hand in place of my wooden hand?"

The scene with his cynical boss is equally as rewarding: "Listen to me you retard... And I can say 'retard' because my 'gardener' is a huge one..." However, the level of the storyline drops in the following episodes, which offer too much gore and splatter, and too little style or inspiration as compensation, with several shooting or chainsawing of the zombies playing out rather banal. The "drug-trip" episode is a typical lazy example of writing, where the authors just simply stacked as many bizarre hallucinations as possible, without believing that anything of that is actually funny themselves. The only exception is great episode 1.07, where Ash, Pablo and Kelly encounter a group of 'Rednecks' in the forest, which had some great payoffs, especially when Kelly aims a gun at them and warns: "I will second amendment your brains all over the truck!" Predictably, the finale ends with 'over-the-top' gore, which is really too much, while the open ending announces a second season, giving overall an accomplished 'revival' with enough charm.

Grade;++

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