Ash vs Evil Dead’s second season premiered this weekend, and if you’re not watching it then you need to take a good long look at your life and reevaluate a few of your priorities.
For those who are tragically unaware, Ash vs Evil Dead is the spinoff-cum-sequel to Sam Raimi’s legendary trilogy of continuity-confused horror movies. The show sort of picks up years after the events of the third film, though hasn’t really explicitly acknowledged it yet.
There’s not much continuity to cling onto though: Ash is a doofus, he once read from the Necronomicon, fought some demons (‘deadites’, to be precise), chopped his hand off, and is now still a doofus years later and has gone and read from the book again.
In tone, it skews closest to fan-favorite Evil Dead II. That means ridiculous slapstick and dumb jokes to balance out the absolutely absurdly ridiculously over-the-top gore.
The latest episode featured a dismembered deadite corpse slipping and stumbling in a pool of its own blood, for example, while a later sequence saw Ash caught in a fight with his own shadow. It’s silly, and it knows it. It revels in its silliness, going through puerile, skipping over juvenile, and landing squarely in infantile. Then pouring a load of blood everywhere.
It’s a refreshing change of tone from the Evil Dead remake a few years back, which ignored the sequels to borrow its tone from the rather more earnest original film.
It set out to be pure horror, a tough feat for a franchise now best remembered for its comedy, and well-made as it was, it clearly wasn’t what most fans were looking for. It also didn’t have Bruce Campbell, which should be enough to sink any Evil Dead project from the get-go.
Luckily for us, as the name might suggest, Ash vs Evil Dead has Bruce Campbell in spades. And probably occasionally using a spade to dismember someone or other, but that’s just a guess.
He’s the beating, bloodied heart of the series, but also the butt of almost every one of its jokes. He’s racist, sexist and would probably vote for Donald Trump. He once bemoaned missing the chance to “put [his] spicy man meat in a mother-daughter sandwich.” Everything that’s gone wrong in the show is his fault.
And yet. And yet. He’s still loveable hero with a boomstick and a chainsaw hand. He’s the guy who looks evil in the face, throws out a stupid one-liner and insults its mom. He’s my favorite idiot on television right now, and it’s him — and Campbell’s performance — that makes Ash vs Evil Dead such a gem.
I don’t care if you’ve seen the originals — you don’t need to have. I don’t care if you liked the originals — you don’t need to have. Just watch it. You’ll thank me later.