The King continues his reign in Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3
This thoroughly unholy TV series is a beast that deserves to rise again and again and again.
Even though we're now three seasons deep, there are still times when I stop and marvel at the mere existence of Ash Vs Evil Dead. I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm still living in the alternate timeline where a very expensive love-letter to a cult 80's movie was not only green-lit for TV, but made well. Unfortunately, The Last Jedi also exists in this reality and has somehow gotten a 90% “Fresh” rating. Oh, well, swings and roundabouts.
Whoever decided to exhume the goofy ultra-violence of The Evil Dead movies deserves a bigger office and an extra storey on their house. For the uninitiated among you, the 1981 original starred Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep) as the perpetually bubble-gum-free arse-kicker known as Ash Williams. Horror, black humour, low-budget gore and some of the best one-liners in the history of film ensued. In Ash Vs Evil Dead, this perfectly balanced cocktail of thrills and laughs has been faithfully reheated for small-screen audiences to consume.
Ash tearing through deadites whilst spouting champagne comedy is just as watchable now as it was back in the 80s, or indeed the last two seasons of AvED. This time around, the undead lunacy is centred firmly on our hero's hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan (real-life location: somewhere in New Zealand). Doing his best to settle into the rural life, Ash has taken over his old man's hardware shop (a career move that makes perfect sense because who wouldn't take his advice on which chainsaw to buy?). The initial plan is to keep a low profile, but some counterproductive decisions are soon made. Case in points: some hilarious DIY TV commercials and the product range of the shop being expanded to include... uh, bedroom... tools.
This small-town slice of heaven is soon ruined by the shock arrival of a mysterious and supposedly illegitimate daughter named Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neil). That, and a Dark One (Lucy Lawless) manifests her presence, forcing Ash to once again buddy up with faithful off-siders Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) and Pablo (Ray Santiago). Season 3 currently feels like a slower burn than the last, but Ruby is fascinating to watch as a scheming, multi-layered antagonist. Basically, she's bad news on the low-boil, alternating between prepping a captured hitchhiker (Samantha Young) for some unspeakable ritual at night, while posing as a high school guidance counsellor for Brandy by day.
Fans of gross-out humour are in for the mother lode this time around, too. I thought we'd seen the disgusting zenith last season, when Ash was yanked out of a dead person's colon, but apparently, I lacked imagination. The series has already tackled blood, guts and faeces – it seems the only logical place left to go was to sperm banks and the man-juice therein. I'm not going to spoil the scene in question here today, but suffice it to say, it's an inspired bit of cinematography that's been expertly set to A-ha's "Take On Me". I honestly don't know, and shudder to imagine, how Season 4 is going to top this.
Of course, this is assuming the show is allowed to continue into a fourth adventure. In my opinion, Season 3 is shaping up to be an improvement over the last in all ways, thanks to a bigger budget, tighter script and a much more complex and entertaining ultimate evil to extinguish. That said, the STARZ network seems to be burying Ash vs Evil Dead by pushing it out of the October slot and into February. Couple that unfair rescheduling with the fact that the premiere had to go toe to toe with the return of The Walking Dead and the Oscars, and this series is facing some very tough odds.
There's plenty more yet to come, but the first half of Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 is firing on both barrels right now and delivering exactly what the fans want and expect. Bruce Campbell's rendition of his signature buffoon has lost none of its potency, and Ash is now surrounded by some recurring characters who have elevated themselves above mere smart-ass sidekicks. They're now the extremely dysfunctional family you care about.
Ash vs Evil Dead is better than it has ever been before. So tell your friends and get the word out to (hopefully) convert a new Evil Dead army of fans – because this thoroughly unholy TV series is a beast that deserves to rise again and again and again.