Yesterday it was announced that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell are finally resurrecting the horror genre’s most bumbling and idiotic hero. Fans of The Evil Dead franchise have been clamoring for Ash’s return for years and Raimi and Campbell kept promising we hadn’t seen the last of him. How would they bring him back was the question. Would they finally make Evil Dead 4 or Army of Darkness 2? Would they put him in a sequel to the successful remake and have him join a team of new heroes? Well, it turns out that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Ash than we could have even hoped for when he returns on the small screen in 2015. The rumored title of the show is Ash vs. The Evil Dead and Starz has ordered a ten episode first season. For horror nuts like me, this is a dream come true. I can’t even begin to contain my excitement. I think the best way I can convey how is feel is with these five simple words; Hail to the King, baby.
Normally, news like this would send me into a tailspin of rage. A Friday the 13th series was announced last year (haven’t heard a word on it since though) and all I could do was smack my head in disbelief. However, this Evil Dead series shows great promise for a variety of reasons. (1). The original creative team is back. Sam Raimi is writing and directing the pilot and you can’t go wrong with Campbell as Ash. The two clearly have a deep seeded love for this franchise and just can’t stay away. Hell, Raimi’s last movie, Oz the Great and Powerful was basically a kid friendly remake of Army of Darkness. Idiotic con man gets transported to another world, is mistaken for a savior, falls in love, fights an evil witch, and reluctantly saves the day using techniques from his own world. (2). Several shows based on older movies that seemed like nothing more than cynical cash ins at first glance have wound up being immensely successful. Hannibal is the best show on TV and Fargo is a brilliant crime drama. Evil Dead can easily continue that trend. (3). Lastly and most importantly, Starz is the perfect network for this sort of material.
Cable programming has been the gold standard for TV shows for decades now and Starz has struggled to find it’s place in the cluttered landscape. If HBO is the prodigal son, Showtime the overachieving middle child, and FX and AMC the rival twins, then Starz is the red headed step child. It doesn’t fit in with the family and isn’t well liked at all. It spends most of its time begging for attention that nobody gives it. A show like Magic City could never compete with something like Boardwalk Empire. Camelot could never compete with Game of Thrones and so on and so forth. They’ve achieved moderate success with Outlander but most people have described it as a mash up of Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey but not as good as either. So, it’s time for Starz to finally embrace its destiny, to stop trying to compete with the cable giants and just accept itself for what it is; the trash network.
Let me talk about a little show called Spartacus for a second. Spartacus was garbage, filled with lurid images, tons of nudity, a lot of wooden actors, and extremely excessive gore. It had no real artistic merits but you know what? It was one of the most entertaining shows on television simply because it knew exactly what it was. It had no pretensions or lofty aspirations. It just wanted to be a bloody good time. That clarity of vision actually made it into one of the best shows on TV. It was more confident in itself than shows like Boardwalk Empire or The Walking Dead. There is something to be said for knowing your limitations, for accepting what your best at and embracing it. That was Spartacus. And it was Starz’s most successful show because it was unique and offered some pure escapist entertainment as an antidote to all the heavy dramas that fill up the other networks. Starz doesn’t do drama well and they shouldn’t try. Their strengths lie in the trash can.
And is there material trashier than Evil Dead? Probably yeah but remember how gleefully over the top and grotesque the first films in the series were? Remember the eyeball popping out of the demon’s head? Remember the tree scene? Remember how much blood was spilled in that cabin? Those films were exercises in excess and Starz will not only allow stuff like that to air, they’ll probably encourage more of it. Raimi was an executive producer on Spartacus after all so he must have a good relationship with the network. With him at the helm, Campbell in front of the camera, and Starz executives shouting for more gore, Ash vs. The Evil Dead should be the glorious trash we’ve been waiting for. Now, if only they could get the rights to Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees for Ash to beat the shit out of. It won’t happen but a boy can dream.