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Monday, November 23, 2015

Ash vs. Evil Dead vs. 80s Nostalgia Two: The 80s Strike Back #AshvsEvilDead #3WeekRoundUp #Starz

Ash vs. Evil Dead vs. 80s Nostalgia Two: The 80s Strike Back #AshvsEvilDead #3WeekRoundUp #Starz

All pictures courtesy of Starz 

"Huh? What the hell am I reading? I'm even confused by the title. What part of the internet is this?" First off, for those of you who are saying that to yourselves or your significant others, don't be ridiculous, this is only a blog. For those of you who do know what's going on, you know that this is just another three week roundup of a new show this season. And what do ya know, its of a show not on network TV.
I know what you're thinking right now, "god, he watches a lot of TV. And he writes and does other stuff too. That's insane! I don't sleep very much. But I sacrifice so that you all know precisely what you need to know about the entertainment out there that you don't know about. Or the stuff that you do know about but are so enamored with that you feel compelled to talk about it ad nauseam. Lo and behold, a place for that. And now, finally, after two wasted paragraphs of exposition I bring you... the review/recap of the first three episodes of Ash vs. Evil Dead.

It's Been A While, Ash. Good To See You Old Friend. Now Squeeze You Lovable Bastard!

First off, if you're not an Evil Dead fan I doubt you've heard about this show, as it is on the cable channel Starz and didn't have a huge amount of advertising dollars spent on network or basic cable. Or maybe you have heard about it but you weren't a fan of the movies or you just heard and saw the commercials and thought, "eh! I've got enough stuff to watch." If you fit into one of those categories, the good news is that you weren't far off from giving this show little, if any, of your attention. The producers/writers assume you have seen if not all three films (Army of Darkness is my favorite one and they don't have the rights to it so expect little to no reference of Ash's medieval adventure), then at least the first two. Really just the second one since the first one is kind of covered in the first ten minutes of the second one. The second is also the one that is responsible for the evil dead culture as it was the one to showcase the humor and over-the-topness a lot more than the first. In hindsight, watching the two films one could almost say that the second Evil Dead plays more as a parody of the first, but I digress.

Ash vs. Evil Dead picks up about twenty or so years after the third movie which shall not be named (man, it would have really been cool to see Ash time-traveling due to the book and going back and forth between now and medieval times). Technically, it's thirty years after the second movie which is ten years earlier than the third, but semantics. Still a valued but average grocery/small mega store (it's a thing) employee, he lives in a trailer park just a few miles outside of town in his own tiny trailer. Not much to his life, he's kept himself separated from most people, a real lone wolf as it were, el jefe... but retired, living his days out upon a groovy pasture of cheap women, cheap alcohol, and even cheaper laughs. Like the average American, he's not too fond of his boss, thinks many of his coworkers are kind of idiots, isn't madly in love with his neighbors but shows respect to everyone in his life. Carefree, he's spent those last twenty (or thirty)-odd years keeping the secret, the curse.

Well, as stupid men go when around stupid women, during one night of drug-addled fun, he haphazardly reads from the Necronomicon, unleashing all unholy hell to roam the earth once more just as it did in that cabin in the woods that time (not the Drew Goddard movie!). Now, he will be forced to stop this new rise of those that seek to take over the world and bring hell on earth, or at the very least inconvenience him and his hermit lifestyle.

Across the way, two cops enter into a dark and mysterious home, armed and ready for anything. State police, it's not clear why they showed up but they expected something sinister from the word go. Finding a few dead bodies, they run into one of the first evil dead minions seen in years. A gunfight breaks out and who dies but the male cop. As unholy luck would have it, he turns into an evil dead minion himself and is blasted away by his female partner played by Jill Marie Jones (Girlfriends fame). Not known to her, the woman/evil deadite who killed her partner is the same chick who slept with Ash a few days earlier. Jill manages to escape the home with the horrendous injury of a pair of scissors all the way through her hand--something which seems to go completely ignored seconds later. I mean, seriously she held a flashlight and shot a gun with that hand and everything. It had me all like "what!?" Now she must look for any clues as to why this has happened.

Back with Ash, as he goes back to work after realizing he just reopened the gates of hell, his young coworker Pablo slides easily into the quirky, nerdy sidekick--his robin to Ash's goofy Batman. He happens to have a crush on another mega small store worker and his recently hired neighbor Kelly, who has that whole dark soul apathetic "I don't really care about anything but maybe I kinda do" hipster vibe going for her. Attractive, Ash is the first one to hit on her because... you know, creepy old man juju and what not.
Things get hectic when Ash goes into the back to store some bulbs and a doll attacks him--one of those porcelain white ones that wear the bonnets and look like those girls from Little House On The Prairie. Clearly not gonna be taken down by a little doll because he's a grown man fighting a little doll, he barely escapes to the front with his life when he notices that all hell has ensued.

The responsible adult who always cleans up his own messes, he books it out of the store and goes home where he searches for the book. However he beat the Evil Dead the last time probably isn't going to work so he's gotta embark on a road trip to find someone who can not only read the book but who can help him defeat the monsters popping up everywhere. And so his journey--wait, there's some more evil deadites popping up as his neighbors also become the non-zombie zombies and start to attack his awesome little trailer.

In the nick of time, because that's how these types of shows generally work, Pablo and Kelly show up to try helping save the day, and to ask him to give them a ride to her parents' house. Why her parents'? Apparently her mother who died months ago is not only returned, but has been alive and well this whole time and only just now got her memory back (something we learn in the second episode). Not until after they get into a fight with one of the gnarlier neighbor/deadites and Ash rips off his prosthetic hand to slide into that chainsaw bad boy that's become so iconic does he get down to the business of properly chopping off heads, rocking out to 70s and classic rock, and taking no names as he kicks butt. Everybody doing a little bit of saving everybody in the small trailer, the day is saved... momentarily. Ash still doesn't agree to go to the girl's house but he does take off with the two youngins by his side. And so his journey--I mean their journey begins.

Back up! Actually, what happens is that Kelly takes off with Pablo's bike for her parents house to either welcome her six months dead mother back from her non-grave or save her father from her deadite mother. After Pablo tells Ash that she took the book, they set off to her parents house where the second episode begins.

Courtesy of Starz and Entertainment Weekly
After an attack by their dickwad boss from the store who turned into a deadite and tracked them all the way down to Ash's trailer park only to stash himself away in the vehicle to facilitate a cool, gnarly, over-the-top bloodfest of a fight in a moving vehicle, their road is clear to Kelly's farmhouse. Arriving at night, Ash suspects the worst and opens the door to find... a happy family sitting with the once-thought dead mother. Kelly even changed into a purple robe which was a very nice color and a little distracting on her; she's an attractive young lady. Seriously, I don't know what it is about her that has me so intoxicated but I get it, Ash and Pablo. I get it. Why she was suddenly wearing that, I don't know.

Is It Racist To Say All Deadites Look Alike?
Still suspicious, Ash questions her mother about her recent deadness, earning some BS story about how she drove off the road into a river and lost her memories and had been wandering around for the last few months until finally something clicked. Riiight! Getting cleaned up, Pablo finally reveals that he lied and that Kelly never had the book, but he took the book because he wanted Ash to help his would-be girlfriend, because if saving a young woman's life and her family don't get you into her purple robe, then I don't know what will.

Dismissing Ash's paranoia, Pablo reasons that if Kelly's mother was an evil deadite, she would have killed Kelly and her husband already. Still not buying it, Ash thinks it's a ruse to lure him in because all the book really wants is him dead... and world domination. Only after he tries quizzing her on her memory loss does he finally punch her to the floor. And holy cannoli, he was frickin' right! She jumps up and stabs her husband through the eye with a fork leading to another gnarly blood-spurting deadite vs. Ash scene (expect a lot of that, because of the title). The three nearly dying, Ash helps save the day again when he chainsaws into her body with Pablo's help.

Burying her parents' bodies, the group continues on to the next stop, an otherworldly apothecary/book store/novelties place where the guy who can read the book works. There, the guy wastes a little time marveling at the complexity of the book, the human flesh it's bond in and the history behind it. Long ago some unholy priests loved killing and darkness so much that they opened a portal into hell to get demons to do their bidding. The book is the portal and has thousands of incantations in it to unleash certain demons. Ash then has the bright idea to summon a lesser demon in order to interrogate him on how to close the portal as they can't find anything in the book on how to stop the evil dead caused by the book.

I'm Back And My Hand Still Works!

Summoning the low-level demon, hell breaks loose (literally, they had it in a containment circle) when Jill Marie Jones' character shows up and tries to arrest Ash because of his link to the other deaths. The demon can disappear and reappear at will, as well as command inanimate objects and explode brain cells one at a time. It nearly electrocutes Ash and Pablo to death before Kelly steps in to save them with an assist from Jill. The reader guy dies by glass shards piercing his eyes and head before the demon is dispelled back into the book. Free to arrest Ash, Jill handcuffs him only for him to pop his hand off and handcuff her to a metal shelf. It ends with her trapped in the room as the guy killed by the glass rises to become a deadite himself.

Yeah, I Used To Be A Warrior Princess

There's also a side story that has yet to connect to Ash's quest. Featuring Lucy Lawless (Xena fame), she is tracking after Ash and not only knows about the book but has some kind of special deadite weapon that burns at their skin and is quicker to kill them than Ash's chainsaw and shotgun. Not sure if I want her to be a potential partner in crime/love interest for him or another adversary like Jill but I can't wait to see what develops.

What's my score. I give it a B, but that comes with a strong caveat. As much as I might like wasting a quick half hour on Saturdays at 9pm on Starz, I can't see anyone who isn't a fan of the films and over-the-top comedy actually liking this. You have to love comedy horror and realize that this is going to be squarely in the stupid comedy canyon before going in to watch it. Walking Dead it is not. Nor is it Supernatural or Vampire Diaries or Teen Wolf. It is its own thing and is about three steps above Syfy's Sharknado, but has much better actors actually trying and much better production values.

Should you be watching? Refer to the paragraph above. If you haven't seen the films but you do like silly comedies or are just a fan of all subgenres of horror, then give it a look. Otherwise, stay away and don't diss it because you thought it was something totally different.

What do you think? Have you seen this show? If so, is it what you were expecting? And what do you think the future holds for Lucy and Jill's characters? Let me know in the comments below (hint: click the no comments button if you see no comments).

Check out my new 5-star comedy novel similar to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Yep, I'm Totally Stalking My Ex-Boyfriend. #AhStalking
If you’re looking for a scare, check #AFuriousWind#DARKER#BrandNewHome or  #ThePowerOfTen. For those interested in something a little more dramatic, check out #TheWriter. The full first season is out now NOW exclusively on Amazon. If you like fast action crime check out #ADangerousLow. The sequel A New Low will be out in a few months. Join us on Goodreads to talk about books and TV, and subscribe to and follow my blog with that Google+ button to the right.

Until next time, "evil that pops up, gets shot up!"

P.S. OK, that's not the exact Ash Vs. Evil Dead catchphrase but it's pretty close. They can have it if they want. I'll come up with something much better as a sign-off next time.

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