REVIEW: ASH VS EVIL DEAD – SEASON 2

MAIN CAST

Bruce Campbell (Jack of All Trades)
Ray Santiago (My Name Is Earl)
Dana DeLorenzo (2 Broke Girls)
Lucy Lawless (Spartacus)
Michelle Hurd (Daredevil)
Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Pepi Sonuga (Famous in Love)

Bruce Campbell in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joel Tobeck (Young Hercules)
Lee Majors (The Six Million Dollar Man)
Stephen Lovatt (Spartacus: Gods of The Arena)
Stephen Ure (Deathgasm)
Ellen Sandweiss (Oz The Great and Powerfui)
Campbell Cooley (Power Rangers Ninja Steel)
Sara West (Dead Girls)
Nicholas Hope (Soul Mates)

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Though not without a few stumbles, Ash vs Evil Dead’s second season was a definite improvement over its freshman year run. Not that Season 1 wasn’t fun and ferocious gooey gory goodness, but it didn’t quite have a handle on Ash, as a character, like Season 2 did. Last year, Ash seemed to bounce back and forth between total doofus and a more earnest sort of hero who was in the midst of a transformative arc. What was needed — and yes, it’s tricky — was a blend of the two. Ash needed to become less of a reluctant savior while still being fundamentally, you know, Ash.This is where Season 2 really nailed it. Sure, we got some truly awesome action set pieces involving rampaging killer cars, diabolical devil trees, and all sorts of evil minions of hell — sequences that awesomely pushed us to our hardcore gore, and good taste, limits — but what resonated the most about this second year was how well Ash came off as a character. Ash was allowed to be smart, but in his own goofball way. For example, he’d have ideas to track down books and demons that involved raging alcohol-infused parties and his iguana’s pet tracker. Plans that sounded totally asinine but fell into that “so dumb they actually worked” category. Even Ruby, Ash’s biggest critic, constantly had to admit that Ash, for better or worse, could get things done.Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, and Dana DeLorenzo in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Bringing Ash back home and revealing that he’d been ostracized by his town and family after the blood-soaked events of the Evil Dead films was a crucial part of this blending. Ash was given, of all things, an off-screen backstory and through this he could be afforded spare moments of vulnerability. Ash could bicker with his bigoted, bitter father (infused with wonderful crotchetiness by Lee Majors) while we, the viewers, could know that he secretly longed for his love and approval.Bruce Campbell and Ray Santiago in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Pablo’s story this year, as a wannabe warrior-turned-living version of the Necronomicon, helped give the season a nice flow. Season 1 was a road trip. Not every stop along the journey hit the mark. This time, even with the time travel, Ash sorta stayed put in Elk Grove and it was Pablo’s connection to the book, and the rise of Baal, that moved us groovily through the story. Pablo’s death also really added a cool exclamation point that the final two episodes needed. Sure, Ash’s little burrito would come back to life by the end, but Ash’s grief over losing his friend is what led to the final defeat of Baal.Lucy Lawless in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Another thing that Season 2 brought to the table was a better take on Lucy Lawless’ Ruby. Essentially the straight-laced reactive character in the group (though everyone side-eyes Ash), Ruby joined the Ghostbeaters this year as a half-demon who’d made a horrible mistake. Season 1 never gave us her origins or (well explained) motivations, so it was fitting to see her change completely and get rebooted for the good guys. Unfortunately, this Ruby died in the finale and was replaced with 80s evil Ruby..Bruce Campbell in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)Ruby was in Kelly’s ear all season, talking destiny and taking matters into her own hands. Then Kelly even had her own “Ash Fight” when Ash was supposedly under the control of Baal and she got to throw down with the demented therapy puppet (which was amazing). She became even more of badass than season 1 and it will be interesting to see what becomes of Kelly in season 3.Lucy Lawless and Dana DeLorenzo in Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)I’d be remiss if I closed this review without mentioning Ash being dragged up into a possessed corpse’s butt. This season definitely went above and beyond when it came to, um, orifices and fluids (of all kinds), but this moment, back in the second episode, was really one of the most gag-worthy and “out there” moments the show has ever done, finally taking full advantage of being on an anything goes network like Starz. It was magnificent and, though the show may try, it’ll probably never be topped.
bp1o7i3a6alalclalucbAsh vs Evil Dead: Season 2 gave us a fully realized Ash, who was both hilarious and valiant, while also fleshing out his character more with a great “town boogeyman” backstory. It would have been nice to see Kelly’s arc land somewhere more significant, but overall this was a raunchy, gloppy good time filled with grit and guts.

REVIEW: THE EVIL DEAD (1981)

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Maniac Cop)
Ellen Sandweiss (My Name Is Bruce)
Richard DeManincor (Crimewave)
Betsy Baker (2084)
Theresa Tilly (American Fable)
Ted Raimi (Xena)

Five Michigan State University students – Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), Ash’s sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), their friend Scotty, and his girlfriend Shelly – venture into the Tennessee hills to vacation in an isolated cabin for their spring break. They soon run into trouble, first narrowly avoiding another motorist, then having a sudden scare as the bridge near the cabin begins to collapse as they cross. That night, while Cheryl is making a drawing of a clock, her hand becomes violently possessed by a mysterious entity, causing her to draw a picture that looks like a book with a deformed, evil face. She fails to mention the incident to the others, dismissing it as her imagination.

When the trapdoor to the cellar mysteriously flies open during dinner, Ash and Scotty go down to investigate and find the Naturom Demonto, a Sumerian version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, along with a tape recording of incantations in which, when played by Ash then Scotty, unleashes demons and evil spirits. Cheryl becomes hysterical when a tree crashes through the window, and she runs to her room. Later, she hears strange voices and goes outside to investigate. She is attacked and raped by demonically possessed trees, but manages to escape. The others do not believe her story, but Ash agrees to drive her to town where she can find a place to stay for the night. However, they find that the only bridge connecting the cabin to the rest of the world has been destroyed. Back at the cabin, Ash listens to more of the tape and while the girls play cards, Cheryl then becomes demonically possessed, telling them that the demons will kill them. She then stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil, and Scotty locks her in the cellar.

Shelly is the next to become possessed; she attacks Scotty, who eventually dismembers her with an felling axe. They bury her, and a shaken Scotty leaves to find an alternate trail through the woods. Checking on Linda, Ash discovers that she too became possessed. Scotty returns, suffering from injuries inflicted by the possessed trees. Before losing consciousness, he tells Ash that a trail does exist but is impossible because of the trees. Linda and Cheryl unsuccessfully attempt to deceive Ash into believing they are no longer possessed, only to attack him again. He locks Linda outside the cabin and tends to Scotty’s injuries, but she sneaks in through the back door and attacks Ash with a dagger, which he uses to impale her. Taking her body to the woodshed, Ash tries to force himself to dismember her with a chainsaw, but finds himself unable to do it and buries her instead. She rises from the grave and attacks him, forcing him to decapitate her with a shovel. Returning to the cabin, Ash finds that Cheryl has escaped from the cellar. Arming himself with a shotgun, he finds her hiding outside and shoots her in the shoulder. He then descends into the cellar to search for more shotgun shells after barricading the doors. While there, he hears voices and sees blood seeping from numerous crevices and openings in the walls.
Image result for the evil dead 1981
A demonically possessed Scotty tries to kill Ash as Cheryl breaks through the door. During their fight, Ash sees that the Book of the Dead has fallen near the fireplace and is starting to burn, as are Cheryl and Scotty. As Cheryl raises a fireplace poker to impale him, Ash snatches the book and throws it into the fire. With the book burned, Cheryl and Scotty disintegrate and their blood is soaked all over Ash. After watching in horror, Ash hears an ominous voice saying “Join us” and heads outside while the sun rises. Walking outside to his car, an unseen evil speeds through the forest and the cabin and descends upon him. Ash turns around and screams in terror.Image result for the evil dead 1981Original and highly enjoyable first film from now mega filmmaker Sam Raimi. Unlike a lot of films on the nasties list this one delivers the non-stop total terror promised by so many that completely fail. One of the great things about this is we hit the ground running there’s no soppy back stories and big build up on the way to the cabin. A genuinely scary and tension filled movie with some excellent shock moments, there is also some darkly comic scenes.

REVIEW: MY NAME IS BRUCE

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Grace Thorsen (Calvin Marshall)
Ted Raimi (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Ben McCain (Black Scorpion)
Ellen Sandweiss (The Evil Dead)
Dan Hicks (Maniac Cop)

In the mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), a young fan of B movie actor Bruce Campbell, and his friend Clayton (Logan Martin) go out to a cemetery to meet two girls, Big Debbie (Ariel Badenhop) and Little Debbie (Ali Akay). Jeff removes a medallion off the mausoleum, unleashing the Chinese god of the dead, Guan-Di (James Peck), who kills Clayton and the Debbies while Jeff flees.Meanwhile, Bruce Campbell is finishing filming for the fictional Cave Alien II, and is promised a birthday surprise from his agent, Mills Toddner (Ted Raimi). Bruce meets Jeff, who kidnaps Campbell and takes him to Gold Lick in hopes that his hero can save the town from Guan-Di. Upon arrival, Bruce assumes it’s his birthday surprise from Mills, and thinks it’s all a movie, despite a lack of cameras and a script, and agrees to “help”. He learns about Guan-Di in the town’s hall and during a dinner party, Bruce gets on the good side of Jeff’s mother, Kelly (Grace Thorsen), who had initially been irritated by Bruce’s behavior.
After gearing up at Gold Lick’s gun shop, Bruce and many citizens of Gold Lick go out into the woods to take on Guan-Di, which Bruce still thinks is part of a movie. Bruce then finds out that it’s all real and flees Gold Lick, angering the townspeople, disappointing Kelly and upsetting Jeff. As part of a running gag, an Italian painter (also played by Ted Raimi) constantly repaints the population sign every time someone dies, including himself. Bruce returns to his caravan to find that everyone, including his own dog, hates him a lot. He has a restraining order placed upon him by his ex-wife, Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), and finds that his “surprise birthday present” from Mills was just a singing prostitute named Kasey (Janelle Farber). Bruce is then called by Jeff, who informs him that he’s going to take on Guan-Di alone in spite of Bruce’s retreat.
my-name-is-bruce
Kasey takes Bruce back to Gold Lick, where he is treated with contempt and tries to reconcile with Kelly. To rescue Jeff, they both drive to the old cemetery, in which they set up dynamite at the mausoleum and try to lure Guan-Di inside with one of Jeff’s cardboard cut-outs of Bruce, which Guan-Di doesn’t fall for. After kissing Kelly, Bruce decides to sacrifice himself (with bean curd playing a significant role in luring Guan-Di) and the dynamite is blown up. He emerges from the debris alive, and hangs the medallion back onto the mausoleum wall to ease the spirit. Guan-Di then also comes back to life, and at the very last minute, it turns out the whole scenario was a movie. Bruce argues with Ted Raimi about the cliched ending and turns it into a happy ending, which involves Bruce and Kelly married, living in a nice house with their son, Jeff, who is accepted into Harvard University. After the movie ends, Bruce asks “What could be a better ending than that?”, after which Guan-Di appears and attacks Bruce.
How can you not like Bruce Campbell! A man with hundreds of b-movies under his belt…..and proud of it!And that is basically what this is, a celebration of persona. Pure tacky trash is what this film is! And  it’s good! It’s cheesy! It’s cringe worthy! It’s…..Bruce Campbell. He really shines in this movie, gladly mocking his life in cinema.