As of Halloween night, 2015, Ash is back. No, not the guy from Pokemon. No, not Ian Holm in Alien. I mean this guy:
It's probably been at least fifteen or sixteen years since I watched any of the Evil Dead movies and although I liked them a lot I never considered myself a hardcore fan. Yet I was really pleased with the first episode of Ash vs. Evil Dead. I think part of it is, like Crimson Peak, it was a return to a certain kind of horror we don't generally have anymore--twisted monsters made of makeup and effects. Most horror movies nowadays tend to present monsters that look perfectly human, if we see them at all. Partly I think this is due to an audience less willing to invest their imaginations in makeup effects.
The combination of horror and comedy in the film series was of course hugely influential though I don't think anything's had the kind of almost unrealistically ironic deadpan of Ash introduced in Evil Dead 2 mixed with a genuine attempt at creating horror. In this forty minute premiere episode directed by Sam Raimi, I found Ash actually far more interesting than I remembered him being in the films. He's more explicitly a pig now, shamelessly flirting with women on the assumption that he is awesome. His story in the bar scene at the beginning about rescuing a child tied to train tracks seems ridiculous until you realise the woman he's talking to is also horny and desperate.
This was actually one of the most useful sex scenes, story-wise, I've seen in any movie or show in years. First of all, despite his outward sexism, it shows Ash has real consideration for this woman, holding out so she can have an orgasm even though it seems to be taking her a very long time. Even when their sex is briefly interrupted by a demoniac vision, he picks up where he left off for her.
Ash is ridiculous--his expertly timed dropping of the light bulbs makes him seem like a klutz and his demands to his neighbour that she clean his trailer while he's gone take his selfishness to new heights. Yet we see, when the chips are down, he can be a hero. Even if it's in a crisis he himself created while smoking pot and trying to impress a girl by reading from the Necronomicon.
It's a bit disappointing knowing that will be no more Sam Raimi directed episodes this season. Hopefully the show maintains some good instinct for the balance of humour and horror--though I wasn't terribly inspired by the seemingly weak-willed young fellow who is the showrunner when I saw the show's Comic Con panel earlier this year. But I guess time will tell. From the way Raimi and Campbell dominated the panel, I felt they were much more in the creative reins than the credits let on.