Combustible Celluloid
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With: Bruce Campbell, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones, Lucy Lawless, Mimi Rogers, Samara Weaving, Ben Fransham
Written by: Nate Crocker, James Eagan, Zoe Green, Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Tom Spezialy, Dominic Dierkes, Sean Clements, Michael J. Bassett, Rob Wright, Craig DiGregorio
Directed by: Sam Raimi, Michael J. Bassett, David Frazee, Michael Hurst, Tony Tilse, Rick Jacobson
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 294
Date: 08/23/2016

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection (2015)

4 Stars (out of 4)

El Jefe Returns

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Note: In 2018, Lionsgate and Starz released the complete Ash vs Evil Dead, all three seasons, in one six-disc Blu-ray box set that retails for $49.99 and includes digital copies for the whole shebang. As far as I can tell, these discs are the exact same as the individual season releases, but it's great to have them all in one place. Following, please see my original review of Season One, plus my reviews of Season Two and Season Three.

As a horror fan, Ash vs Evil Dead is a dream come true, and it's every bit as good as I could have ever hoped. Now that we think of movies in terms of franchises rather than movies, I can say that, along with Romero's "Dead" series, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series is my favorite horror franchise. I discovered Evil Dead II back in the 1980s and have loved it ever since, along with its counterparts. (Even the needless 2013 remake is OK in my book.) But I never thought I'd see the real thing ever again.

Raimi himself directed the 41-minute pilot of this 2015 ten-episode season, and it's vintage Raimi. It's slick, smooth, and frenetic, with a very unique use of movement, part Exorcist and part Three Stooges, and a strange, wonderful combination of practical and digital effects (all deliberately low-rent). Bruce Campbell steps back into the Ash role after 30 years with the same effortlessness that Harrison Ford and Sylvester Stallone showed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Creed.

Ash is now living in a trailer park, drinking and picking up girls, telling stories about his fake hand. He's basically a jerk. When one of the "deadites" appears, Ash suddenly remembers a pot-hazed night in which he tried to impress a girl by reading passages from the Book of the Dead. Uh-oh. Now he has re-awakened the evil dead. With two of his co-workers at his box store job, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), he realizes that he must strap his old chainsaw hand back on and get to work.

Meanwhile, a pretty lady cop, Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) loses her partner due to a deadite attack, and she can't explain what happened without people thinking she's crazy. In later episodes, Lucy Lawless (Campbell's co-star in another Raimi TV series, Xena: Warrior Princess) plays a mysterious woman named Ruby, who seems to know what's going on.

Ash vs Evil Dead is genuinely scary and hilarious, and at the same time smart and self-aware (with an exceedingly well-chosen selection of garage-rock and pop songs), and I can't wait to see more. (Season Two premieres in October of 2016.) The two-disc Blu-ray set of Season One, released by Starz / Anchor Bay, comes with commentary tracks on all ten episodes; some include Raimi and Campbell, who, between them, have been responsible for some of the greatest commentary tracks of all time. There are also three short featurettes, including a montage of Campbell's "greatest hits" from the season.

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