REVIEW: ASH VS EVIL DEAD – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Bruce Campbell (Jack of All Trades)
Ray Santiago (My Name Is Earl)
Dana DeLorenzo (2 Broke Girls)
Jill Marie Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Lucy Lawless (Spartacus)

RECURRING / NOTABLE CAST

Damien Garvey (Terra Nova)
Mike Edward (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Sian Davis (Hercules: The Legendary Journeys)
Bridget Hoffman (Frozen)
James Gaylyn (Avatar)
Mimi Rogers (Ginger Snaps)
Ben Fransham (Legend of The Seeker)
Jared Turner (30 Days of Night)
Hemky Madera (Weeds)
Kelson Henderson (Power Rangers SPD)
Peter Feeney (Black Sheep)
Rachel Blampied (Shortland Street)
Mark Mitchinson (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Milo Cawthorne (Power Rangers RPM)
Samara Weaving (Home and Away)
Indiana Evans (H20)
Ido Drent (Offspring)

Well, we’ve had to be patient for nearly a quarter of a century to finally see Ash wield his chainsaw again, but trust me: it was well worth the wait. Ash vs. Evil Dead fires on all cylinders.  After so many years had passed since Army of Darkness (aka Evil Dead III) came out in 1992, it looked like a direct sequel just wasn’t going to happen anymore, yet apparently, the Raimi-Campbell gang had been working on one for some time. According to recent interviews with the show’s creators Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, what was first supposed to be a new feature film and the fourth entry in the franchise, over time turned into an idea for a TV-series, and I believe fans will be very happy with the result. Instead of a 2-hour film for a sequel, we now get 10 episodes  with Ash and the DeaditesAt the beginning of the show we meet Ash leading a lazy, but apparently happy slacker life, residing in a run-down trailer and working as a stock boy at a Value Stop (for some obscure legal reasons, the writers couldn’t use the name S-Mart from Army of Darkness’ iconic last scene). In the show, 30 years have passed since Ash’s last encounter with the Deadites, and while he might be well into middle age now, he hasn’t matured one bit. Ash is still the exact same guy we last saw fighting walking skeletons and other ghastly undead things in Army of Darkness, cracking wise and appearing as cock-sure of himself as ever. These days, he likes to spend most of his spare time either getting wasted in his trailer or picking up random ladies – or both . suffice to say that his rather irresponsible lifestyle ultimately won’t go too well with his duty as keeper of a certain  dangerous book, and  bloody mayhem soon ensues.In my opinion, Ash vs. Evil Dead does everything right. Instead of going down the “gritty drama” route of shows like The Walking Dead or taking the “straight horror” approach of Fede Alvarez’ Evil Dead remake, creators Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell fully embrace the over-the-top goofiness and playful tone of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, while still delivering the scares of the first film and plenty of gore. The Deadites are frightening. The production values in general are absolutely great; the writing is in the vein of the first three films (no wonder, since the episodes were mostly written by Sam and Ivan Raimi); the music, the pacing and the direction: really everything just falls into place. It’s clear that this wasn’t some lazy attempt to cash in on the name of a beloved cult-franchise, but a labour of love for all involved.Another great plus of the series is the cast. Seeing Bruce Campbell step back into this iconic character is simply hilarious fun; it still fits him like a glove (or, perhaps more accurately in his case, a chainsaw). But there was never a doubt in my mind that he would deliver (it seems Ash is a character Campbell was born to play); what really surprised me was how well the rest of the cast fits into the show. Ray Santiago as Pablo and Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly (they’re Ash’s co-workers at the Value Stop) are completely able to hold their own; they are fully fleshed-out characters and just as fun to watch as Ash. Also we have Lucy Lawless of Spartacus and Xena fame, who’s character is a mystery until episode 9 when all hell breaks loose and leads into a great Season One finale.Ash vs Evil dead brings back everything that we all loved about the original Evil Dead films, but it also manages to introduce interesting new characters and story lines which help maintain the element of surprise for long-time fans. And the show works just as well as a stand-alone story, so people unfamiliar with the original trilogy need not worry either: they will find just as much to love here as those who know and cherish Sam Raimi’s classics – as long as they have a certain affection for trashy, gory horror comedies and don’t expect serious drama. The good news its already been picked up for a season 2, so we got more blood and gore to come

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REVIEW: EVIL DEAD (2013)

CAST

Jane Levy (Suburgatory)
Shiloh Fernandez (Red Riding Hood)
Lou Taylor Pucci (Fast Food Nation)
Jessica Lucas (Gotham)
Elizabeth Blackmore (Teh Vampire Diaries)
Jim McLarty (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive)
Bruce Campbell (Maniac Cop)

In the woods, several men pursue and capture an injured girl. The girl, who turns out to be possessed by a demon, is brought into a cabin’s cellar and tied up. Her father sets her on fire and shoots her in the head.

David (Shiloh Fernandez) and his girlfriend Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) meet up at a cabin in the woods with his younger sister Mia (Jane Levy). Along with them are their friends Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and David’s dog. They plan to stay in the cabin until Mia overcomes her heroin addiction. It is later revealed that David moved to another city years before, leaving Mia to take care of their dying mother. Eric remarks how David has grown distant over the years, but Olivia notes that their old friend is back and trying to make a change.

The group discover the cellar, where they see rotting animal corpses, a shotgun, and a book entitled Naturom Demonto. Eric, having some knowledge of witchcraft practices, begins studying the book. Despite the written warnings, he reads aloud an incantation, awakening a malevolent force. It rushes towards the cabin and into Mia, who is standing outside alone. Mia begins seeing someone in the woods and asks the group to leave. They refuse, believing that she is suffering from withdrawal. Mia steals the car keys and drives away, but a mysterious girl causes her to crash the car. As Mia walks back to the cabin, she is frightened by a ghostly shape and becomes entangled by the branches of a tree. The girl, who looks like a demonic form of Mia, releases black tar-like vines from her mouth. The vines crawl inside Mia, beginning her possession. David and Olivia find Mia and take her back to the cabin, ignoring her warning. David finds his dog killed and dumped under the shed, and confronts Mia. In the bathroom, he sees her scalding herself in the shower. David tries to drive her to a hospital, but heavy rains caused a flood, blocking the way out.

That night, the possessed Mia wounds David, threatens the group with death, and falls to the floor unconscious. When Olivia retrieves the gun, Mia overpowers her and vomits blood on her face. Mia is then locked in the cellar. Olivia goes to the bathroom to clean herself, and becomes possessed. Eric checks on her and sees her cutting into her cheek with a mirror shard, another scene from the book. Olivia attacks and wounds Eric, who grabs a broken piece of the toilet and bludgeons her to death.

In the shed, while David tends to Eric’s wounds, Eric tells David of what he learned from the book. According to the book, a demon called the Taker of Souls must consume five souls in order to unleash a being called the Abomination. Mia lures Natalie into the cellar and violates her, before Natalie is saved by David. Natalie cleans the bite wound inflicted by Mia and sees an infection spreading from it. As it quickly crawls up her arm, she tries to stop it by cutting the arm off. Eric explains to David that Mia must be “purified” either by live burial, dismemberment, or burning. The purification will end her possession. As they debate, Natalie becomes possessed and attacks the two. David shoots Natalie’s other arm off with the shotgun. The demon leaves her body and Natalie bleeds to death, confused, in David’s arms.

David plans to burn down the cabin with Mia in it. Mia starts singing their mother’s lullaby, and David changes his mind and decides to bury her instead. He digs a grave, then enters the cellar to subdue his sister. Mia ambushes him and attempts to drown him. Eric intervenes and knocks Mia out, but not before suffering a fatal stab wound in the process. Before Eric dies, he and David reconcile. David sedates Mia, puts her in the grave and buries her. After she loses consciousness, he digs her up and uses an improvised defibrillator to revive her. The demon is exorcised and her self-inflicted wounds are healed, and the two reconcile. As David enters the cabin to retrieve the car keys, the possessed Eric stabs him in the neck. Before dying, David locks Mia outside and shoots a nearby gasoline can, killing Eric and himself.

With five souls now claimed, the Abomination rises from the ground as blood rains from the sky. As Mia fights the Abomination, she severs her own hand in the process, before she cuts the Abomination in half with a chainsaw. Its corpse sinks into the ground and the blood rain stops. Sunlight begins to shine through the forest as Mia, hardened by the events of the night, walks away into the forest. Unbeknownst to her, the Naturom Demonto lies on the ground nearby and slams shut on its own.

In a post-credits scene, an older Ash Williams says “Groovy” and looks at the camera.Exposition at its most blatant and unapologetic is demonstrated, within 5 minutes you are told exactly who everyone is in relation to one another and what you need to know about them. Doing this in any other film always feels forced and clunky but it works in Evil Dead, we just don’t care about how long they’ve been friends or the fact that one of them is a high school teacher and thats why he loves old books. It get’s all that necessary information out of the way so we can dive into the horror and trust me, once the horror actually starts there’s not a second of a breather.

REVIEW: EVIL DEAD 3: ARMY OF DARKNESS

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Maniac Cop)
Embeth Davitz (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Marcus Gilbert (Rambo III)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Richard Grove (Money Train)
Bridget Fonda (Jackie Brown)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Ted Raimi (Xena)
Bruce Thomas (Kyle XY)

Image result for the evil dead 3After being pulled through a time portal, Ash Williams lands in A.D. 1300, where he is soon captured by Lord Arthur’s men, who suspect him to be an agent for Duke Henry, with whom Arthur is at war. He is enslaved along with the captured Henry, his gun and chainsaw confiscated, and is taken to a castle. Ash is thrown in a pit where he fights off a Deadite and regains his weapons from Arthur’s Wise Man. After demanding Henry and his men be set free (as he knew Henry was innocent, and his persecution was simply a witch hunt) and killing a Deadite in full view of everyone, Ash is celebrated as a hero. He also grows attracted to Sheila, the sister of one of Arthur’s fallen knights.
Image result for army of darknessAccording to the Wise Man, the only way Ash can return to his time is to retrieve the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, a book with magical powers. After bidding goodbye to Sheila, Ash starts his search for the Necronomicon. As he enters a haunted forest, an unseen force pursues Ash through the woods. Fleeing, he ducks into a windmill where he crashes into a mirror. The small reflections of Ash climb out from the shattered mirror and torment him. One of the reflections dives down Ash’s throat and uses his body to become a life-sized clone of Ash and attack him, after which Ash kills and buries the clone.
Image result for army of darknessWhen he arrives at the Necronomicon’s location, he finds three books instead of one. Ash eventually finds the real one and attempts to say the magic phrase that will allow him to remove the book safely – “Klaatu barada nikto”. However, forgetting the last word, he tries to trick the book by mumbling and coughing the missing word. He then grabs the book from the cradle, and rushes back to the castle, while the dead rise from graves all around. During Ash’s panicked ride back, his evil copy rises from his grave and unites the Deadites into the Army of Darkness.
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Despite causing the predicament faced by the medieval soldiers, Ash initially demands to be returned to his own time. However, Sheila is captured by a Flying Deadite, and later transformed into a Deadite. Ash becomes determined to lead the humans against the army of the dead. Reluctantly, the people agree to join Ash. Using scientific knowledge from textbooks in the trunk of his 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88, and enlisting the help of Duke Henry, Ash successfully leads the medieval soldiers to victory over the Deadites and Evil Ash, saving Sheila and bringing peace between Arthur and Henry in the process. The Wise Men return him to his own time, giving him a potion to drink after reciting the magic phrase. Back in the present, Ash recounts his story to a fellow employee at his job, working in housewares at a store called “S-Mart”. As he talks to a girl who is interested in his story, a surviving deadite, allowed to come to the present due to Ash again forgetting the last word of the magic phrase, attacks the customers. Ash attacks and kills it using a Winchester rifle from the store’s Sporting Goods department, finally ending the deadite threat.

Image result for army of darknessOriginal Ending

The original ending, preferred by Raimi and Campbell themselves, in which Ash oversleeps in the cave and wakes up in a post-apocalyptic future, was restored to the film for the UK VHS release, which also had the S-Mart ending put in as a post-credit extra. This scene has been restored on the Army of Darkness: Director’s Cut Region 3 DVD released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the “director’s cut bootleg edition” DVD and the double-disc DVD, which also featured the S-Mart ending of the film. The S-Mart ending was shot for the American release; the studio wanted to end the film on a high note for the character of Ash. Raimi believed Ash to be more of a fool, which is why he liked to torture him so much in his films; Ash being a goof and drinking too much potion was in his character.

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Bruce Campbell is the absolute king of B Movies and in this movie he’s in the absolute prime of his career. He’s got such screen presence doing all the corny and off the wall hilarious jokes and physical humor in what is the third movie of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. The first movie was pretty much a straight up horror movie and a cult classic, then Evil Dead 2 while it still had a bit of true horror in it was very much a fantastic comedy/horror film also, in Army of Darkness they go all out with the comedy. But the comedy is done tastefully and doesn’t make the movie into a parody of the previous films like a lot of bad movies like Scary Movie do. Plus it doesn’t hurt that they time travel back to medieval times instead of being a modern day cabin like the previous two movies were.

REVIEW: EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Maniac Cop)
Sarah Berry (C.H.U.D. II)
Dan Hicks (Darkman)
Kassie Wesley DePaiva (We Are What We Are)
Denise Bixler (Crisis In The Kremlin)
Ted Raimi (Xena)

Ash Williams and his girlfriend Linda take a romantic vacation to a seemingly abandoned cabin in the woods. While in the cabin, Ash plays a tape of an archaeology Professor Knowby, the cabin’s previous inhabitant, reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (or Book of the Dead), which he has discovered during an archaeological dig. The recorded incantation unleashes an evil force that kills and later possesses Linda. Ash is then forced to decapitate his girlfriend with a shovel in self-defense.

After he buries Linda, a spirit is seen hunting for Ash. Ash becomes briefly possessed by the demon, but when day breaks the spirit is gone, and Ash returns to normal. Ash finds little chance of safety, however, as the bridge leading to the cabin is destroyed. Linda’s revived head attacks Ash by biting his hand. Ash brings Linda’s severed head to the shed, where her headless body attacks him with a chainsaw. Ash gains the upper hand and slashes the relentless zombified Linda to death, killing her a second and final time. Later, Ash is forced to sever his bitten right hand, which has become possessed.
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While Ash deals with this force, the professor’s daughter, Annie, and her research partner, Ed Getley, return from the dig with more pages of the Necronomicon in tow, only to find the destroyed bridge. They enlist the help of Jake and Bobby Joe to guide them along an alternate trail to the cabin. The four of them find an embattled Ash, who is, seemingly, slowly being driven insane due to his encounter with the demon, such as hallucinating that the room comes to life and begins laughing hysterically at him.
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At first, he is mistaken for a murderer by the four people because he shoots at them through the door (mistaking them as the Evil Force), but they find out the truth after listening to a recording of Annie’s father, Professor Knowby, that talked about how his wife Henrietta was possessed and buried in the cabin’s cellar rather than dismembered. Ed is possessed and is soon dismembered by an axe wielding Ash. Bobby Joe tries to escape but is attacked by the demon trees and dragged to her death. Annie translates two of the pages before Jake turns on them and throws the pages into the cellar, holding them at gunpoint to force them to go look for Bobby Joe. Ash is possessed once again and turns on his remaining companions, incapacitating Jake. Annie retreats to the cabin and accidentally stabs Jake (mistaking him for the demon) and drags him to the cellar door, where he is killed by Henrietta in a bloodbath. Ash tries to kill Annie, but returns to normal when he sees Linda’s necklace, reminding him of her.
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Ash, with Annie’s help, modifies the chainsaw and attaches it to where his right hand had been. Ash eventually finds the missing pages of the Necronomicon and kills Henrietta, who has turned into a long-necked monster. After Ash kills Henrietta, Annie chants an incantation that sends the evil force back to its origin. The incantation opens up a whirling temporal portal which not only draws in the evil force, but nearby trees, the Oldsmobile, and Ash himself. Ash’s possessed hand stabs and kills Annie.
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Ash and his Oldsmobile land in what appears to be the Crusader-held Middle East in the year 1300 AD. He is then confronted by a group of knights who initially mistake him for a deadite, but they are quickly distracted when a real one shows up. Ash blasts the harpy-like deadite with his shotgun and is hailed as a hero who has come to save the realm, at which point he breaks down and screams in anguish.Image result for the evil dead 2Remake, sequel, or both? I would definitely say sequel. There are two reasons why Raimi filmed the flashback sequence the way he did. First, to bring those unfortunate who didn’t see “Evil Dead” up to speed and second, because he couldn’t get the footage from New Line. Evil Dead 2 is no doubt one of the greatest horror films ever made, following a great low budget cult classic horror film. The sequel improves on everything including the great special fx, lots of blood and over the top gore which was done in a slapstick almost 3 stooges style of humor, as we now have a much bigger budget.

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.
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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.