Over the weekend, at the San Diego Comic Con, Starz released the first full trailer for Ash vs. Evil Dead. And it looks FANTASTIC. Seriously, it has the unfounded swagger of the Ash we saw in Army of Darkness with the over the top blood and guts of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. I for one was concerned TV might not do it justice, especially not with 30-minute episodes. But everything I love about the Evil Dead series is present in the trailer. Horror and humor in roughly equal measure. Great visuals. Interesting demons. And new characters. Let’s break it down, shot by shot and see what we can figure out about the plot, characters and tone.
The trailer starts with a voiceover. Whoever’s doing it is anonymous. There’s a chance it could be the character we meet later in the trailer, Pablo, played by Ray Santiago, but there’s no way to be sure. It says: “My uncle was a shaman. When I was a kid, he would say: ‘Evil… is always waiting in the shadows.'” Over this we see a full moon and a classic shot from all the Evil Dead movies: a POV shot low to the ground representing an unseen force racing through the woods.
He continues: “‘And only one man would stand to fight against it.'” Over that line we see Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) car, still the Oldsmobile Delta ’77. Thirty years later and Ash still can’t afford a better car. Says something about where he’s at. Small bit of trivia: that car has appeared in nearly every movie Sam Raimi has directed. The only exceptions are where it doesn’t make sense like his Western The Quick and the Dead or fantasy movie Oz the Great and Powerful.
The next several shots are very Raimi-esque, which makes sense since Sam Raimi himself is directing the first episode and executive producing the rest along with Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert (who produced the other Evil Dead movies with Raimi). It’s also co-written by Ivan Raimi, who co-wrote Army of Darkness. First up are a rapid series of dutch angle close up zooms on leather straps tightening. Could this be Ash preparing a harness for his trusty shotgun or chainsaw?
Nope. It’s Ash wearing a girdle. He finally cinches it tight and looks at himself in the mirror, proudly. “Yeahhhh! Lookin’ good. Lookin’ sweet! Uh huh!” He flashes himself a wink and a smile, even though he’s obviously living in a mobile home. Oh, and he’s missing his left hand, which he lost back in Evil Dead II. He doesn’t seem to have the metal hand he got in Army of Darkness, but chances are that would have rusted and fallen apart by now.
We get another shot of the unseen force attacking Ash’s trailer. The metal begins to dent inwards. You can tell it’s Ash’s trailer because it’s hooked up to his Oldsmobile Delta.
A light goes out and Ash cringes in fear. He’s wearing his new work shirt and name tag. No longer at S-Mart, apparently.
There’s a shot of Ash looking up and wondering aloud: “What the hell…?” Not sure if this scene takes place in the trailer or not. Taking note of the carpeting for later.
In this still frame it just looks like clouds and a moon over Ash’s trailer, but the clouds are moving unnaturally fast and are pitch black, blanketing everything in darkness. Something supernatural is going on.
Who knows whether this actually occurs later, chronologically, on the show, but Ash speeds to a parking lot and brakes hard. This is his new job, ValueStop. Looks like mostly a hardware store, and not a great one.
In the warehouse out back, Ash begins talking to one of his co-workers, who is a co-star on the show. “Pablo, I’m gonna tell you somethin’ I’ve never told anyone.” Actor Ray Santiago is 31 and has been in films such as Meet the Fockers and Girlfight with Michelle Rodriguez. This seems to be his biggest leading role so far. He was classically trained at the F.H. LaGuardia High School for the Arts in NY (the Fame school).
“30 years ago my friends and I spent the night at a cabin.” That’s about right. Evil Dead came out back in 1981. That’s 34 years ago. Evil Dead II came out in 1987, 28 years ago. Split the difference. The shot we see is from Evil Dead, I believe. The next several shots are from Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, which was a semi-remake of Evil Dead but bigger (the first 15 minutes or so of Evil Dead II represent a remade and simplified version of the first movie).
“We found the Necronomicon ex Mortis. The Book of the Dead.” Pretty sure this shot is from Evil Dead II of Ash finding the book and recordings of the last people to visit the cabin, Professor Knowby (an archeologist) and his wife.
“Certain passages were recited. It awoke something dark in the woods. Something… evil.” We see a deadite from Evil Dead and this classic scene of Ash sawing off his own hand after it became possessed by a bite from a deadite in Evil Dead II.
“I was the only one to escape. But now, evil has found me.” It’s a simplified but completely accurate version of Ash’s history. No real mention of how the Necronomicon transported him to medieval England but then again, that isn’t super important to defining who Ash is. Gotta say, at 57 Bruce is still looking great. He may be older but he hasn’t let himself go.
Now we get a burst of action shots. Here, a classic deadite breaks down Ash’s trailer door on Pablo. Pablo seems to be Ash’s only friend.
Ash is ready for a deadite attack. First thing he does? He rips off his red work shirt and underneath he’s wearing a different button-down shirt. That’s hilarious. This may not be a shot from this action scene though because Ash has no harness over his shirt and he’s wearing one in an upcoming shot.
How prepared is Ash? He steps on a button on the floor which opens a panel and pops a shotgun up into the air. Ash has always been a bit of a dumb dumb and seems to be a bit more haunted in this show (PTSD that he covers with his swagger) but he’s always been good at fighting and he doesn’t miss a step here.
Without looking, he blasts a deadite behind him, just like he did to one in Army of Darkness.
Then he spins around and smashes its head into his microwave and proceeds to blast it to bits. Ash appears to have another coworker, Kelly, at the other end of his trailer. The trailer does not let up on the blood and gore from this point forward, which brings the show closer to Evil Dead and Evil Dead II than Army of Darkness, which was a lot less bloody. Still, it’s also funnier than the much more serious The Evil Dead which was sort of a reboot but really a sequel with different characters that followed a similar story to Evil Dead II. I wonder if the survivor of that movie could show up on the show at some point?
Ash grabs the Necronomicon out of a box in his trailer and says, “First thing I gotta do is see a guy about a book.” Interesting that he still has the book, but I guess he figured he’s the only one who can keep someone from accidentally using it. Unless he accidentally used it.
Ash continues talking to his speechless/stunned co-workers: “There must be some spell I can say to undo all of this.” The book is written in an ancient language that Ash can’t read. In Evil Dead II it was read by an archaeology student of Knowby’s and in Army of Darkness by a priest. But Ash doesn’t seem to have educated himself on how to actually read it. Classic Ash.
Ash continues: “The other first thing I gotta do is some cardio. ‘Cuz my heart is jackhammering like a quarterback on prom night.” This gets a hard eye roll from Kelly, who does not seem to admire Ash like Pablo does. Kelly is played by Dana DeLorenzo who has popped up in small roles in Workaholics and A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas among other things. This appears to be her first leading role.
Next we see Ash’s car and trailer pulling up to a farmhouse. Maybe that’s where the experts on the Necronomicon live? Ash says: “Here’s the plan: we bust in there, fight through the carnage, let the boomstick do the talking. If things get hairy, use your bottle.”
Cut to Pablo looking uncertainly at his broken beer bottle. “Um… I don’t think it’s a very good weapon, Jefe. You had to stab, like, 50 times.” Look at how much blood is on Pablo and the back seat. Must have been a fight in there recently.
We see Pablo stab something and thick blood shoots in his face. Kind of a Sam Raimi trademark.
Ash also stabs a deadite multiple times. It seems to be wearing a red ValueStop vest. Ash says: “I was sharpening it for you. Now c’mon. You ready?”
Pablo: “I’m ready!”
Bruce Campbell seems to have no ego playing his most famous character again. He has a shot putting in dentures and flashing himself a cheesy smile.
We see Ash sneaking around in the warehouse and all of a sudden a doll jumps out and attacks him, biting his nose. Deadites don’t just possess people, they also possess the dead, trees and even inanimate objects. And the only way to really stop them is complete destruction.
Here’s a completely new monster that runs at Pablo. It’s got a human body but the face has no eyes or nose or ears, just a big jaw. Glad we’ll get some new stuff!
Ash has his classic cheesy lines. He delivers them with such conviction. Here he uses his boomstick (his shotgun) and shouts: “Let’s tangle, bitch!” The decor on the walls make me think this is the farmhouse we just saw. Which might mean the deadites got there first.
Here’s a funny but also creepy scene where a girl seems normal but grabs her own head and twists it backwards and her face has gone all deadite. She seems to be about to attack Kelly and Pablo.
Here’s a shot of actress Jill Marie Jones in a fight with a deadite. Jones had a small recurring role on Sleepy Hollow as Cynthia Irving and is probably still best known for playing Toni on the UPN sitcom Girlfriends for 6 years. On this show, she’ll be playing a Michigan State Trooper, Amanda Fisher, who gets involved with the deadites. Getting stabbed in the hand happened in Evil Dead. One of Ash’s friends took a pencil to the hand there.
Suddenly, Lucy Lawless jumps in and impales the deadite, saving Amanda. Amanda asks: “Who the hell are you?”
Lawless says with a smile: “I’m your new best friend.”
According to casting sheets, Lawless plays someone called Ruby Knowby and she is tracking down Ash, blaming him for the deadites. Knowby, of course, is the name of the Professor who uncovered the Necronomicon and originally recited it in the cabin. There’s a very good chance that Ruby is his daughter.
A deadite fights with Kelly and pushes her very long and sharp fingernail right at her eye. Pretty sure this shot is meant to evoke the infamous eye gouging scene from Zombi 2 where a zombie pulls a woman face first into a huge splinter.
As the trailer nears its end, we get this very over the top shot. Pablo kicks a chainsaw across the trailer in slow motion and Ash jumps to it, stump first, with it locking into place perfectly. He did this in Army of Darkness. Hilarious. Looking at the floor here I can see that the carpeting is the same as the scene at the beginning where Ash is looking straight up.
Finally we see an old lady deadite. It might be taking place in that farmhouse. It’s definitely the one threatening Kelly. Ash shouts at it: “Yo, Granny. Let’s go!”
And here’s the logo. Nice callback to the opening credits of Army of Darkness where it read Bruce Campbell vs. Army of Darkness.
Finally, Ash has built two of his trademark crappy crosses (he previously made one for his dead girlfriend in Evil Dead II). It seems they may have had to kill whoever lived in the farmhouse or the residents were killed by deadites. Ash speaks to Kelly: “I’m not a grief counselor but if it’s any consolation, you’re kinda like a young me: deadites ruined your life and you’re hot as hell.”
Kelly gives him a deadpan reaction: “You know they were Jewish, right?”
“I… I did not. Wish you could’ve said something before I made those dumb crosses, but… ok…”
I can’t wait for this Halloween! Are you a fan of Evil Dead and/or Bruce Campbell? Do you think it looks good?