For the first time since the 1993 film Army of Darkness, Bruce Campbell is back as Ashley Williams, the chainsaw-wielding, one-liner machine that propelled the Evil Dead film franchise to success. Ash has enjoyed immense popularity in the years since, starring in everything from comic books to video games based on the films.
Though the 2013 Evil Dead remake was a solid film that tried to do something different with the franchise, fans made it clear that they wanted Bruce Campbell’s Ash to return. Rumors of an Army of Darkness sequel re-ignited the fervor, but those were soon discredited. It was eventually revealed that the Evil Dead would be returning, however, via a new television series titled Ash Vs. Evil Dead. The first trailer was enough to quiet any misgivings about the transition to the small screen, prompting excitement amongst fans, new and old alike.
During the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Bruce Campbell joined Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and co-star Lucy Lawless on stage for an Ash Vs. Evil Dead panel. Slashfilm reports that during the panel, Raimi spoke about the origin of the upcoming series.
“First my brother Ivan and I wrote a movie. It was too big and unwieldly. Then our partner Rob Tapert said ‘Why don’t we make it as a TV show? I’ve had some great experiences in telelvision, [like] Spartacus… We can give the audience what they really wanted, which was Bruce Campbell as Ash. TV is about character.”
Campbell agreed, pointing out how the role has come to define him in the years since Evil Dead II was released.
“Even if I was over it, the fans would not allow me to be over it. I’ve gone to conventions since 1988. Every subsequent year I hear, ‘When are you making more of this?’ I came to a realization: you’re only going to be remembered based on what people watch. If you only watch horror movies, I’m going to be remembered as Ash. I’ve actually been more pigeonholed by my fans than the film industry itself… I can’t be over the ‘Evil Dead’ movies. They got me into the film business.”
It’s already been confirmed that Ash Vs. Evil Dead will be a bloody series, but Bruce Campbell offered a brief anecdote that really put the quantity into perspective.
“I went blind the other day shooting a scene. Just picture that. Take a shower and open your eyes right into the faucet. That’s how much blood there is on this show. I’ve been gagged once and I went blind. That’s a lot of blood on the show. So, anyone who’s looking for it, it’s coming your way.”
Raimi had a few new details about Lucy Lawless’ character, Ruby (pictured above). According to him, Ruby isn’t an ally, but an adversary.
“We needed a powerful adversary for Ash. Someone who can be formidable and you can believe can kick his butt. He’s a monster fighter every day. She has gravitas and is a real threat to him. That’s why Lucy’s a great choice.”
There’s no denying that Ash Vs. Evil Dead has some challenges ahead of it. The transition to television coupled with new writers and directors could shift the series from cheesy fun to just cheesy. There’s an inherent temptation to rely on nostalgia and callbacks, but for the series to have lasting success the writers will have to tread new ground.
From what we’ve seen so far, the series is moving in the right direction. It looks as though it can recapture the tone of Army of Darkness, coupling funny dialogue with over-the-top violence. Most importantly, Bruce Campbell is in rare form, bringing an impressive level of energy to the role. Ash is back, and the season premiere cannot come soon enough.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead premieres on October 31st, 2015 on Starz.