Waking The Evil Dead

Courtesy of Starz
The announcement of the Evil Dead TV series took, I think, everyone by surprise. Fans have wanted another film since Amy of Darkness, and as franchise star Bruce Campbell says, "I go to conventions a lot and I’m driven insane by the fans at conventions. I've been doing conventions since 1988 and I hear it at every convention I go to, same as Sam. We were tortured for years, and guess what? Now they’re going to get it." This is true; when I saw Campbell at the Ottawa Comic-con last year, he took only two questions from the audience, and the first was "when will we see Ash again?" I just don't think that anyone was expecting Ash and the deadites to return on TV. But in a world where the Walking Dead is one of the highest rated shows, anything is possible.

Collider sat down for an interview last week with Campbell, franchise director Sam Raimi and their long time producer Rob Tapert, and the result was quite a lot of information about the series. A lot more than they've previously released. For all the details , I suggest and recommend the full read, but these are the highlights: the series is filming in Auckland, New Zealand, back on the turf where Raimi, Tapert and occasionally Campbell gave the world Xena back in the nineties. The show, consisting of 10 half hour episodes, will air on Starz this fall, with an eye on a second season if Starz is up for it.

The half hour format sounds unusual, but was very specifically chosen. Said Tapert, "the breakneck pace that the movies often had, that really was the right format in the world of television for this particular project." Raimi adds that the series will essentially be all A-plot, without unnecessary secondary characters or filler. Campbell promises, "This is not going to be a watered down version of Evil Dead. The very first Evil Dead has no rating. The second Evil Dead has no rating. Only Army of Darkness was ever rated. Thankfully by partnering with Starz, the gloves are off and we have no restrictions, almost literally..."

He continued, "Because you’re doing a TV show now and not a feature film, you actually have to structure everything differently. You have to structure the storytelling differently and you have to create a much larger world, because the demands of the audience are much – it’s every week that you’re entertaining them, so you have to have a multiplicity of stories and angles and tangents. It’s going to be a much bigger story." So, the series will be an unrelenting horror-coaster. Sounds like fun. Raimi will direct the pilot, and will remain directly involved in the ongoing development of the series. Raimi and his (elusive) brother Ivan have been in the writer's room, which has produced six scripts thus far, while production starts up on filming the first. And Campbell was quick to point out that this is Sam's creative child, saying, "I've never been directed by anyone else as this character... he will be consulted quite heavily."

Moving on to the actual content of the show, again there were some surprises. The show is contemporary, and see Ash reemerging after twenty some-odd years of isolation when the Deadites reappear, and Ash finds himself not the hero the world wants, but that it needs. Said Tapert, "He's not a nobler or saner character than when we last saw him. In fact, I think if anything, he’s digressed. He’s kind of sunk to his lowest instincts, and that’s where we find him." Somewhat shockingly is the potential of a minor reboot, as Raimi revealed, "[The show] doesn't really exist in the exact same universe. It’s a slightly altered universe. It takes place somewhere in an alternate universe after Evil Dead 2."

"Army of Darkness, does it exist? Well, certainly Ash went through that experience. We're not referencing specifics from that, but he certainly has that in his memory." As monumental as it may sound that the third and arguably most popular of the films might have gotten retconned out of existence, this is actually the norm for the Evil Dead franchise. Practically every comic book, video game and furtherment of the series disregards one or more, or parts of the films. Army of Darkness is the least adhered to of any of the films. And considering that Evil Dead 2 is mostly a remake of the original, the argument can be made that Evil Dead 2 is the only of the films that really counts.

Along for the ride with Campbell will be new additions to the franchise (because everyone else dies horribly), and inadvertently, "a team that forms around him," in Raimi's words. This team will, at first, consist of Pablo (Ray Santiago), a young immigrant seeking to discover his true self, and his girlfriend Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), who wants nothing to do with Ash, as "they realize there is something greater at play than a series of Evil Dead-like attacks." Ash, meanwhile, according to Tapert, has "been living in fear of a resurgence... of the Deadites, so that old rusted hulk of his [the chainsaw], that’s the one thing he’s kept oiled up and in tip-top shape just in case."

Dogging his crusade to rid the world of the Evil Dead will be Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones), a cop "who sees something that she doesn't believe... and she's on the trail to hunt down Ash because she believes he's responsible for this series of bodies." As will be Ruby (Lucy Lawless), "a woman of mystery, and we don’t want to reveal too much about her real agenda or why she so desperately wants to track Ash down, but she's had an unpleasant experience that Ash was involved with…she's completely justified in her actions and she's going to become a formidable person to have on Ash's tail." Certainly sounds like Lawless will have a more substantial role than just a guest spot. Certainly more substantial than her appearance on Agents of SHIELD. Good. When you have Lawless, you use Lawless.

In all, the series sounds like it's on solid footing, and the trio behind the scenes are enthusiastic and certainly aren't doing this for easy money. Said Campbell, "I’m not going anywhere. This is the show I’m going to devote basically every ounce of my aging energy into." I cannot think of a more appropriate time to use this image, to describe my current feelings:

Via Collider.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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