Steve Villeneuve’s “Hail to the Deadites” is a documentary about “Evil Dead” that touts itself as not featuring any kind of footage from the original films at any point. You’d think that would hinder the experience, but that only benefits the feature in the end. “Hail to the Deadites” is an unabashed love letter to the fans and the fans only. It explores the various facets of “Evil Dead” fandom, how all three movies have affected their lives, and how Bruce Campbell has become a source of inspiration to many.
Yes, you could say it only had three seasons on television, but I prefer to think of it as we horror fans had an “Evil Dead” series for three whole years. While Starz! Didn’t stick to their guns in the long run, we had a good run re-visiting Ashley Williams once again in his journey to bring down the deadites from hell and track down the necronomicon. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is a stellar horror comedy series that didn’t shy away from anything that made the original movies so fantastic, and if you’re flexible, you’ll love how the writers even stretch the mythos for a wider scope and more interesting depth, as well as a new variety of deadites like a hand puppet, a high school mascot, and a cell phone.
After almost twenty years not making horror movies, fans were excited to see Sam Raimi getting back in to the genre that introduced him to us originally. While we might have wanted another “Evil Dead” rather than a PG-13 horror film, with Raimi you never get just a PG-13 horror film, after all. After many years of working on the big budget spectacles of the “Spider-Man” movies, Raimi blasts in to the horror world once again to deliver what has been a very thoroughly analyzed and appreciated little gem. Leave it to Raimi to throw in a smaller film that packs a punch over time.
Well it’s done and sadly, this is probably the last we’ll ever see of Ashley Williams. Despite fans wanting more from “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Starz! Verified that the series was officially cancelled after three seasons, and Bruce Campbell confirmed that he’s hanging up his boom stick and chainsaw as Ash forever. It stings to know Ash won’t be back in live action form at least, but you know what?
On the bright side we got three whole seasons of a great series. “Ash vs. Evil Dead” continued the movie series, paved new roads for the series, introduced new deadite fighting heroes we can root for, and never held back on gore, grue, and deadite chopping action and comedy. Thanks to Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell for giving fans a last hurrah for Ash Williams. Hail to the King.
Here are ten of my favorite moments from “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”
You have to love Bruce Campbell’s attitude toward “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” He’s like that angry dad who you keep asking for bike for your birthday and he keeps telling you that he has no money, and to shut your trap, or he’s locking you in the basement with the other bad kids. Then on your birthday, he shows up with a brand new bike and says “Well I got it because… you know… you’re a good kid, and you wouldn’t shut up about it. Now go get me a pack of smokes.” Bruce is that kind of man who loves his fans despite the gruff exterior and rewarded us with “Ash vs. Evil Dead” because we wouldn’t shut up about it. And because, you know, you can’t have Ash without Campbell. Just in time for Halloween, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” gets everything right about the “Evil Dead” movie series.
Here were are many years later, and Ash is finally finding a life for himself that he’s happy with. Granted he lives in a trailer, picks up sleazy women at bars, and works at a store where he’s despised by his boss Mr. Roper, but it’s a life he’s comfortable with at least. After hiding out for many years from the deadites, they’ve finally found him and are hell bent on destroying him and the world. And it all happened because of Ash and a pot fueled bender with a gorgeous woman one night that caused him to irresponsibly read from the Necronomicon in an effort to impress her. All roads begin to converge as Ash begins getting horrifying signs from Deadites, causing him to pick up and move his trailer once again.
Typical of Sam Raimi, his “Evil Dead” series managed to become so much more insane and wacky the more it progressed. If “Dead By Dawn” wasn’t an indicator that he’d embraced the overall sheer chaos and insanity of Ashley Williams battling demons from another dimension, “Army of Darkness” dives head first, transforming Ashley’s newest misadventure in to something of an action horror movie with a stern tongue in cheek. While Raimi does inject his share of humor, though, “Army of Darkness” retains its essence, never once reducing the concept of the series in to an embarrassment.
Leave it to Sam Raimi to take lemons and make batshit crazy insane lemonade. Pulling a George Lucas, “Darkman” was once the efforts from Raimi to adapt “The Shadow” on the big screen. When that fell through, he created his own superhero, a demented horror oriented avenger named Darkman. And he’s about what you’d expect from the man who gave us Ashley Williams. Liam Neeson gives a very entertaining turn as Peyton Westlake, a scientist who becomes the unwitting victim of a mob scheme. After Peyton’s fiance Julie discovers a document that can incriminate her boss in his efforts to develop land over the deserted docks, Peyton is tortured by local mob boss Robert Durant’s gang and murdered.