By Joe Shelton
Thirty-seven years ago a cheap, nasty little horror film called “The Evil Dead” splattered onto theater and drive-in screens across the country. Cheap (or is it thrifty?), exploitative, and bizarre, “The Evil Dead” was nevertheless fiendishly creative in the way that it spent what little money it had in its budget. It was full of fake plasma, and real ooze, and though its pleasures weren’t exactly sophisticated, the tale of Ash, our square-jawed hero, trying to fend off ancient Sumerian demons in a cabin in the woods proved to be a quintessential midnight movie.
Since then, of course, everything old has become new again, and a series of sequels, remakes, video games, and comic books have supplemented the “guy reads book, book summons demons, demons kill everyone” lore of the original. And now, as the final season of the television adaptation/continuation “Ash Vs. the Evil Dead” comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray, we face the real possibility that the Evil Dead franchise has wrapped up.
Which is a crying shame, because “Ash Vs. The Evil Dead” has managed to expand the world of the series in unexpected and gratifying ways; not the least of which is that Ash, while always alone in the original films (after the Dead-ites killed all his buddies, naturally), the new television show has seen fit to give him long-lasting relationships with friends, lovers, and family — including a daughter in the third season. For once, Ash has something to care about other than himself, his boomstick, and his chainsaw. All that much more bittersweet, then, that the show is coming to a close just as its reaching its potential.
“Ash Vs. the Evil Dead” isn’t all relationships and character-building, however. In fact, it contains at least three of the most ridiculously gruesome (and hilarious) scenes ever concocted for an audience of gore-hounds. Every conceivable bodily fluid is liberally sprayed at the viewer, and every kind of improvised weapon used in the service of stopping the Dead-ites. But if you look closer, just behind all the blood, guts, and sophomoric humor, there is a modicum of heart, and the saga of the “Evil Dead” is that much richer for it.
This very groovy new season will be out on DVD and available at your friendly local video store on August 21st. Take my advice and savor it — it might have to tide you over for a little while.