Ashley J. Williams is the hero of Elk Grove, which is apparently 100% demon free. He’s such a big hero that the local yokels queue up to buy various goods at his hardware store, including porn and dildos. But when the Necronomicon turns up on a stuffy antiques show, all hell quite literally breaks loose. Meanwhile, Ruby is also back, and manages to give birth to a flesh-eating demon child.
Ash vs Evil Dead is a show that has known from the get-go exactly what its fans want, and has given it to them by the gore-filled bucket-load. Season 3 is no different. The first episode alone has one of the best Ash vs Deadite scenes, not just in the TV series, but in the entire Evil Dead canon. Ash fights a Deadite girl in her high school music room. Drums pound, cymbals decapitate, the strings of a double bass are used like a bow and arrow, and drumsticks poke every hole in Ash’s face. In fact, all the episodes have a scene like this. Another standout includes Ash visiting a sperm bank and having bottled jizz tossed at him by a Deadite tasked with stopping him from further spreading his seed through… ahem… generous donation.
One can imagine the makers of the show dreaming up the funniest and grossest horror set pieces they can muster. Their ability to keep churning out the gory gags is something to be marvelled at to be sure. However, when episodes are watched in quick succession the experience can be a little repetitive. Each show generally starts with a quick bit of blood splattering horror, and later includes one big piece of gruesomely sick slapstick. But who cares! It’s damned funny, and besides, there are far worse things a well-known property can do than try extra hard to please its fans.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this iteration of the Evil Dead franchise is the show’s willingness to expand beyond Ash. He is now ably supported by two sidekicks, the strong and sassy Kelly played with hard-bitten charm by Dana DeLorenzo, and Pablo (Ray Santiago), who has hair like Kramer from Seinfeld and loves Ash with a slavish devotion. In Season 3 the cast is further added to, as Ash discovers that he is a father, having been married to the absurdly named Candi Barr for about an hour sometime in the past. His daughter Brandy, played with admirable sincerity by Arielle Carver-O’Neill, then becomes a target for Deadites, who want to wipe out Ash and all his offspring. O’Neill provides the honest, understated heart of the series. Her fear and pain are played totally straight, which gives the show just a little gravity to swing around.
Of course, Bruce Campbell is as groovy as a groovy can be. Really we don’t need to talk about it. The man is one of humanities great treasures.
Thankfully Lucy Lawless returns once again, playing the evil, yet slightly ambiguous Ruby. She is Ash’s adversary without being exactly a villain. Her character is incredibly appealing, conveying an enjoyment in doing nasty things without spilling over into camp. The scene in which she feeds dismembered body parts to her demonic baby is particularly memorable.
Not only has the cast of characters been expanded, but once again the lore behind the Evil Dead story has been further developed. This, it must be said, is something of a mixed bag. With each episode bursting at the bloody seams with hilarious horror, while clocking in just shy of the half hour mark, it can be quite hard to keep up with the backstory of the Necronomicon and the various different factions of good, evil and those in-between that the show keeps adding to the cocktail. Here we have some stuff about a betrayal and Ruby being The Dark One, and there’s a rift between worlds possibly caused by an ancient sect of Knights… whatever. Bring on the next Deadite to be chain-sawed.
Ash vs Evil Dead has always been exactly what it needs to be. And that makes it one of the most purely pleasurable shows around today.
4.5 / 5