It might seem crazy, and if you’ve been a horror fan as long as I have it’s still entirely surreal to think that this is even happening, but Ash vs. Evil Dead is on its way. After years and years of talk with nothing to show for it, Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are making good on their longstanding promise to one day return to the realm of the Evil Dead, the franchise that launched their respective careers.
Even more exciting is the fact that instead of another film, we’ll be getting a TV series, with five seasons planned according to Campbell. By all accounts, Evil Dead is not only back, it’s here to stay. Still, there’s reason to be hesitant. There a lot of things that could happen between now and when the series actually airs.
But we remain hopeful that this return to the franchise will be worth it and will deliver. For it to do that, however, it will take five things:
This one might be obvious, and might not be too much of a worry considering TV has much more time to focus on these things. Ash’s arc from meek, shy and unassuming protagonist to full-fledged cocky, smarmy hero is a great one. He actually changes a lot as a character over the course of three movies and I can’t wait to see where he’s at—both emotionally and physically—when we meet up with him in the upcoming series and how he will develop from there.
It might not be too difficult with Raimi again at the helm, but it’s been a long time since he’s written the Ash character. We can only hope that he can still deliver enough cheesy one-liners and goofy moments to make the character out to be a lovable, bumbling wiseass. I have a feeling we probably won’t be disappointed on this one, but you never can be too sure. The dialogue is a large part of what makes the series work, particularly the tongue in cheek humor.
The Evil Dead films have a very specific visual style. Most of Raimi’s films of late have aped this style, though, so we might not have much to worry about. Even the Spider-Man series had a few throwbacks to the trilogy and Oz: The Great and Powerful was full of visual references. The insane, kinetic and frantic cinematography was what helped establish the three features as essential slapstick horror. That’s part of the appeal of Evil Dead, it’s a hardcore horror movie that, strangely enough, takes its primary influence from The Three Stooges.
With the series airing on Starz, known for their Spartacus series, we can hope to see the gore that fans know and love. Over-the-top carnage was an essential part of The Evil Dead, as well as Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. It was kept out of Army of Darkness, which could almost have been a PG-13 movie, but with the return of Evil Dead to the title here’s hoping that means the return to the kind of hardcore horror imagery Raimi has not indulged in a very long time.
Some of what we’ve looked at has touched upon this, but it really is the most important thing. The show has to be funny. If it’s not, it will fail. Even though I loved the Evil Dead remake, it missed one major element and that was the humor. All three movies, even the first, are inherently funny. It’s important for the new series to take the characters and the mythology seriously. That’s a given, but it is important to note that the new series shouldn’t lose sight of its sense of humor in the process. There is definitely a way to make us care about the characters and what Ash is going through while still having us laugh maniacally into the screen. If the series can coin some new catchphrases or even deliver on some old ones, well, that will be groovy.