Blu-ray Review: Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season

ash vs evil dead s1 blu

Ash vs Evil Dead, a 10-episode, half-hour series, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. The series follows Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons –personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip. The cast is led by Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, Lucy Lawless as Ruby a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner. The series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio (“Chuck”), who serves as executive producer and showrunner.

I got all excited when I first heard this series was going to happen because as a fan of the Evil Dead movies, like many people, I had wanted something new for a long time. 2013’s reboot was a fantastic hit in its own right but it also left the fans wanting even more and Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell heard the cries so they come up with this wonderful new chapter. Sam Raimi not only serves as one of the executive producers for the series but he also directed the first episode and delivers the perfect mixture of comedy and horror just like those wonderful Evil Dead movies of his from way back. Raimi sets the tone for directors Michael J. Bassett, David Frazee, Michael Hurst, and Tony Tilse to follow and they all did a fantastic job staying true to the Evil Dead formula while expanding this fun universe. The cinematography helped to set the tone for the series and there were some fantastic and atmospheric shots that helped create many of the scenes. I questioned the half-hour run time for each episode but after watching them I understand why they did this. Each episode is non-stop insanity with no filler time at all.

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The writing is fun and imaginative because it expands the classic Evil Dead universe as well as introduce some new and interesting characters. Bruce Campbell leads the charge and shines as Ashley ‘Ash’ J. Williams who is forced out of hiding when the deadites return. Of course he brings his trusty chainsaw and boomstick along with him! There’s Ray Santiago who plays Pablo who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick and no matter what kind of new trouble Ash gets them in, he still looks up to him. Dana DeLorenzo plays Kelly who is the perfect companion for Pablo but she’s got a little baggage. As the first season plays out, these two sort of learn how to become heroes in their own right. Jill Marie Jones is the first witness to the return of the deadites who ends up chasing after Ash but once she catches him, the two awkwardly hit it off. And finally there’s Lucy Lawless who plays the mysterious Ruby that you just can’t quite figure out until the first season starts to come to a close. Oh yeah, she’s got a lot going on!

Something else that stood out in Ash vs Evil Dead were the fantastic special effects used and the impressive thing about them is that a lot of them were practical effects. The makeup effects used for the deadites didn’t change a bit from the movies so they were as creepy looking as you would remember. The looks, mannerisms and movements all help to make up these scary monsters and it’s all done so well. To top this off there was some CGI used at times and even a new monster that was a combination of the two effects. There were some really cool 3D-style shots in a few scenes that pop right at the screen. If you want blood and gore  then you’re going to get plenty because there’s enough in this series to fill up an olympic-sized swimming pool. And now to the incredible sets that were all stunning and looked amazing. It was all spot on from the cabin in the woods, to the Necronomicon, to Ash’s 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that has also made an appearance in every Sam Raimi project.

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Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season is available in several different packages and I received the one with the slipcover that features the lenticular artwork which looks really cool when you turn it. The front features the artwork you see up top and the back includes series details, some images and list of special features. Each Blu-ray disc includes individual artwork featuring Ash and episode listing. Inserting each disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio. Crank this release up once you press play because it has a rocking soundtrack and the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 sounds fantastic!

Bottom line is, Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. The series captures everything we loved about the Evil Dead movies and expands on it to near perfection. It had been over 23 years since Bruce Campbell portrayed this fan-favorite character and it’s like riding a bicycle, you just don’t forget how to do it. Campbell delivers and we get to learn so much more about this flawed hero he portrays. The guy is a goofball but he’s the hero that knows how to take down the deadites! The supporting cast was also amazing and these new characters ended up being a really important addition for the series. All in all, Sam Raimi and company have not only concocted a new chapter in the Evil Dead saga but the series itself has ended up being something really special. This two-disc Blu-ray set is available now and comes highly recommended for any Evil Dead fanatic. The fans waited a long time for this and Ash vs Evil Dead delivered the groovy goods!

Distributor: Anchor Bay

Run Time: 2 Discs / 10 Episodes / 294 Minutes

  1. El Jefe
  2. Bait
  3. Books From Beyond
  4. Brujo
  5. The Host
  6. The Killer of Killers
  7. Fire in the Hole
  8. Ashes to Ashes
  9. Bound in Flesh
  10. The Dark One

Rated: TV-MA

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1 / Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0 / French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Special Features: Good Stuff! The extras on this two-disc set include audio commentary for each episode with some of the cast and crew. There’s also three featurettes that take the viewer behind the scenes of the series. There’s also a great look at the special effects used and amazing sets constructed for Ash vs Evil Dead.

  • Audio Commentary
  • Ash Inside The World featurette (15:59)
  • How To Kill A Deadite featurette (02:31)
  • Best Of Ash featurette (01:27)

 

 

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