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Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Collection (Blu-ray Review)

Bruce Campbell’s Ashley Williams came to a close this year when Starz canceled Ash vs Evil Dead prior to the finale of the show’s third season. Its both unfortunate and fortunate at the same time. Unfortunate obviously that the show was forced to end, but fortunate that it existed. I’d have take just a one episode-length adventure with Bruce as Ash one more time let alone be gifted 30 episodes. Those 30 episodes will now be coming to you from Lionsgate/Starz in a nice collected form on October 16th. Included in this 6-disc set is a digital copy of every episode as well. If you’ve held off on collecting the previously single season sets hoping for this, well, you didn’t have to wait long as the third season is still very fresh on the Blu-ray market. Pick yourself up this series to go with you Evil Dead/Army of Darkness films on your shelf to complete the entire Boom Stick’n adventures of Ash. 

Season One 

Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons – personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip.

Everyone waited…and waited…and hoped.  For 23 years, fans of Evil Dead have been clamoring for another chainsaw buzzing, shotgun blasting, deadite slaughtering adventure with their favorite schmuck Ashley Williams.  It seemed like it was going to be this thing that just never happened.  In the meantime, we got a ton of merchandise, home video re-releases, video games and the well received remake just a couple years ago.  Now, with the remake they still promised a return of Ash.  And then…out of nowhere…BOOM!  A new Starz television show continuing his adventures.  Starring Bruce Campbell, with heavy involvement from Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert.  Holy cow!  What times we live in!

Just getting the show to happen was enough to make most happy.  But, the fact that the show launched with such an amazing rush of quality, was unforseen.  Ash Vs Evil Dead was one of television’s best new shows last fall.  Premiering on Halloween night, the program instantly showed us that not a drop of quality or craftsmanship had been lost in those 23 years.  The great thing is, that it brings back what you loved about Evil Dead 2 and Army Of Darkness, but it also starts paving its own road and making its own name in the franchise.  Sam Raimi directed the first episode “El Jefe”, and right away its back to that brilliant horror-comedy-splatstic explosion that was basically invented in Evil Dead 2.

An incredibly important factor in the show that I think might go overlooked by some, is that its a tightly harnessed and disciplined program.  Each episode only runs at the lightweight amount of 30 minutes.  In this day and age, and on Starz, they seriously could have exploited it all and ran episodes damn near an hour like their contemporaries do.  With this shortened time frame, every episode is tight, contains no bullshit and leaves you wanting more every week.  I have to saw, at first I was surprised at how short the episodes are, but overall I applaud the decision.  They decided the show might be more of a comedy and comedies don’t need to be overlong and just go on and on (Got that, Judd?).

We all know Bruce Campbell brings his A-game and he does and then some here.  But what helps strengthen that up is his supporting cast.  Relatively new comers Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago make this adventure much more fun as well.  Santiago is a good solid emotional foundation and fun person for the viewers to try and relate upon, but DeLorenzo gets a really meaty role and is a joy to watch every week.  She gets to run a great range with her character throughout the season.  And a huge welcome to the Evil Dead’verse is Lucy Lawless coming on and sparring off with Ash.  Not only is it a return to Evil Dead and Ash, but its also almost just as exciting to have the prospect of Lucy Lawless VS Bruce Campbell in a show.

Ash Vs Evil Dead was (I think) a big hit for Starz.  At least critically and fan wise, it received high scores across the board.  I’m sure there are those “too cool” people who don’t like it or the Army Of Darkness detractors that won’t enjoy this.  However, for me, as a fan of it all, I’m happy as hell to have this be a thing in the times we live in.  They’ve got the perfect tone, perfect cast and crew and wonderful range of ideas and adventures for Ash Williams to chainsaw his way through.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Starz/Anchor Bay tend to have really crisp, sharp, vibrant pictures with their modern shows and films.  This is no exception.  Detail is rambunctious.  Gruesome gore finds every nook and cranny accounted for.  Like to a nice disturbing gross level.  The cover of the Necronomicon, as well as its ink inside looks gloriously detailed and never look so good.

Depth:  This show does display some groovy 3 dimensional work to it, especially during its action moments.  There is some great spacing on display and free-ness between people and their environments.  A real sense of distance between foreground and background objects.

Black Levels:  Blacks are solid with a bit more of a gray to them as most Starz things look.  Shading is done very well and detail lost in dark moments is at a very very minimum level.

Color Reproduction:  Coloring is vibrant, but knows when not to go to far and maintains a sane level.  Blue is a strong force in the look, and of course red is luscious, gross and beautiful in all the bloody gory splatter.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and maintains a consistent that runs through all ten episodes of the series. Moles, wrinkles, sweat, pores, wrinkles, freckles, stubble, dried blood, cuts and bruises all show clear as day from pretty much any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Super duper clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  Ash Vs Evil Dead has a very active and alive 7.1 track.  From storms to deadite battles, you get 360 degrees of boomstick action.  Sound effects are out-freaking-standing.  They are incredible well layered, distinct and well strewn into this mix.  From the shitload of splatters in the show and frequent buzzing of chainsaw, you get a whole slew sound eminating.  Balance of the music and vocals in with the effects is done at an expert level.

Low Frequency Extension:  Thunderstorms, chainsaws, shotguns, floating deadites and much more have your subwoofer stomping your room with action.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Front channels travel back and forth and grab each character and bit of action at their correct point and distance on the screen.  Rear speakers provide ambiance as well as deadite noises and accurate character action happening during battles.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud, clear and perfectly laid onto the mix.  Deadite vocals are well layered and eerie as all hell like they should be.

Season Two 

This season roars back into action with Ash leaving his beloved Jacksonville and returning to his home town of Elk Grove. There, he confronts Ruby, only to find that she too is now a victim of evil and in need of Ash’s help. The former enemies have to form an uneasy alliance to give them a chance of success as Elk Grove soon becomes the nucleus of evil.

What a joy this damn disgusting, absurd little show is. You know you’re watching something special when your sister is trying her best to balance uncontrollably laughing her ass off, while at the same time trying not to puke. If you’ve seen the show, you know which episode and part I’m talking about. Its a peak Evil Dead moment and one fans will never forget. And it happened in this second season. A season that continued to push its ridiculous gore boundaries while also never shying away from its schmuck humor.

This second go round in the television realm had us digging in to Ash’s past, primarily via his hometown and reconnecting with his father. Pefectly plucked and casted for this was Lee Majors, that just one look or thought about it and yeah, you know its right. This season did bring more of Lucy Lawless as she becomes a more full time member of the group. She’s her own bad ass and goes toe to toe with Bruce Campbell at every turn. Also, my fondness for Dana DeLorenzo continues to grow with every episode.

We get many new elements in this season to go along with some old familiarity. We see tropes of television shows explored during this year (The whole insane asylum “Is this whole show in my head” episode happens), but they keep things very much in the Evil Dead vein. There are also some really nice callbacks in terms of returns as not only does Ted Raimi return as a hilarious new character, but he’s Henrietta in a time travel episode too. And also the actress who played Sheryl (Ash’s sister) in the original Evil Dead returns as her famous Deadite self. It never harps on nostalgia, and displays the perfect kind.

Ash Vs Evil Dead gets even better in its second season. Find its comfortable place after the first season, this one begins to start pushing the show’s boundaries, limitations and evolving the series into new grounds. Its not just the Deadites anymore. Bruce Campbell proves to be game like always, but his supporting cast is able to match complete wits with him as the chemistry between the core character just continues to gel and blossom into such a great action, horror and comedic group. This season was an incredible amount of fun and here’s looking toward a third season that continues to move this show forward.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Starz/Anchor Bay tend to have really crisp, sharp, vibrant pictures with their modern shows and films.  This is no exception.  Detail is rambunctious.  Gruesome gore finds every nook and cranny accounted for.  Like to a nice disturbing gross level.  Creature detail is quite good with slimey, wet, wrinkled, multicolored and made-up looks.

Depth:  This show does display some groovy 3 dimensional work to it, especially during its action moments.  There is some great spacing on display and free-ness between people and their environments.  A real sense of distance between foreground and background objects.

Black Levels: Blacks are solid with a bit more of a gray to them as most Starz things look.  Shading is done very well and detail lost in dark moments is at a very very minimum level.

Color Reproduction: Coloring is vibrant, but knows when not to go to far and maintains a sane level.  Blue is a strong force in the look, and of course red is luscious, gross and beautiful in all the bloody gory splatter. The CG’d blood does have a little bit of a more friendly look, but its all good in blood and guts.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintains a consistent that runs through all ten episodes of the series. Moles, wrinkles, sweat, pores, wrinkles, freckles, stubble, dried blood, cuts and bruises all show clear as day from pretty much any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 Surround Dolby Digital, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

DynamicsAsh Vs Evil Dead has a very kickin’ 7.1 track.  From parties to deadite battles, you get a full room of boomstick action.  Sound effects are out-freaking-standing.  They are incredible well layered, distinct and well strewn into this mix.  From the many squishes and squashes of the splatters in the show and frequent buzzing of chainsaw, you get a whole slew sound pulsating.  Balance of the music and vocals in with the effects is done at an expert level.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Crashing, howling winds, chainsaws, shotguns, Henrietta stomping and much more have your subwoofer fill the room with action.

Surround Sound Presentation: Front channels travel back and forth and grab each character and bit of action at their correct point and distance on the screen.  Rear speakers provide ambiance as well as deadite noises and accurate character action happening during battles.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud, clear and perfectly laid onto the mix.  Deadite vocals are well layered and eerie as all hell like they should be.

Season Three 

Ash, who – having gone from urban legend to hometown hero –discovers that he has a teenage daughter as the result of a late night bender many years ago. And, when Kelly witnesses a massacre with Ruby’s fingerprints all over it, she returns to warn Ash and Pablo.

In this third and unintentionally final season, Ash Vs Evil Dead brings on tropes that could possibly ruin other shows, but works in spades here. Primarily giving Ash a newfound daughter from long ago. They actually handle this situation with care and very realistically. The relationship the two share is fun to watch blossom and become what it is by the end of the season. Arielle Carver-O’Neill is a welcome addition to the show as well, and its a shame we won’t get more of her. She really meshed with Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago too.

There are touches on this third season that are throwbacks  to Army of Darkness with make for a fun little 1-2-3 of seasons akin to where the movies were taking us. We even get our biggest, baddest monster to go with the season as well. The comedy is all there, but this season really feels pretty tight and able to do its own thing moving forward while not focusing so much on the return to the cabin and events of the movies needing checked off. Its VERY much like the films in that regard as Army of Darkness truly has its own story away from that stuff, too.

While a big bummer the show has been canceled and Bruce Campbell will likely keep to his word with the Ash retirement, its a little bittersweet that the show leaves on a high and has a pretty perfect ending that touches back where we left Ash off before the series started. It ends almost in the same fashion as the Director’s Cut of Army of Darkness finished with Ash, but this time a changed person. This Ash waking up in the future has a new perspective a new confidence, has been recognized and embraces being a hero. He rides off into the distance, with adventures to come and more fun to be had. Yeah, its open, but we can continue to know that somewhere Ash will be kicking deadite ass for the long run.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Starz/Anchor Bay tend to have really crisp, sharp, vibrant pictures with their modern shows and films.  This is no exception.  Detail is rambunctious.  Gruesome gore finds every nook and cranny accounted for.  Like to a nice disturbing gross level.  Creature detail is quite good with slimey, wet, wrinkled, multicolored and made-up looks.

Depth: This show does display some groovy 3 dimensional work to it, especially during its action moments.  There is some great spacing on display and free-ness between people and their environments.  A real sense of distance between foreground and background objects.

Black Levels: Blacks are solid with a bit more of a gray to them as most Starz things look.  Shading is done very well and detail lost in dark moments is at a very very minimum level.

Color Reproduction: Coloring is vibrant, but knows when not to go to far and maintains a sane level.  Blue is a strong force in the look, and of course red is luscious, gross and beautiful in all the bloody gory splatter. The CG’d blood does have a little bit of a more friendly look, but its all good in blood and guts.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and maintains a consistent that runs through all ten episodes of the series. Moles, wrinkles, sweat, pores, wrinkles, freckles, stubble, dried blood, cuts and bruises all show clear as day from pretty much any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, French 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Ash Vs Evil Dead completes the hat trick with their seasons having terrific and active 7.1 tracks. From storms to deadite battles, you get 360 degrees of boomstick action.  Sound effects are out-freaking-standing.  They are incredible well layered, distinct and well strewn into this mix.  From the shitload of splatters in the show and frequent buzzing of chainsaw, you get a whole slew sound eminating.  Balance of the music and vocals in with the effects is done at an expert level.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: Storms, crashing, howling winds, chainsaws, shotguns, loud deadites and much more have your subwoofer fill the room with action.

Surround Sound Presentation: Front channels travel back and forth and grab each character and bit of action at their correct point and distance on the screen.  Rear speakers provide ambiance as well as deadite noises and accurate character action happening during battles.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud, clear and perfectly laid onto the mix.  Deadite vocals are well layered and eerie as all hell like they should be.

Extras 

Ash vs Evil Dead: The Complete Series is a 6-disc set that comes with a digital copy of every episode.

Season One

DISC 1

Audio Commentary

  • El Jefe – With Creator/Executive Producer/Director Sam Raimi, Co-Executive Producer Ivan Raimi, Executive Producer Rob Tapert and Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell
  • Bait – With Executive Producer Rob Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago
  • Books From Beyond – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago
  • Brujo – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actor Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago
  • The Host – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago

DISC 2

Audio Commentary

  • The Killer of Killers – With Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago
  • Fire In The Hole – With Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago
  • Ashes To Ashes – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and actors Dana DeLorenzo, Jill Marie Jones and Ray Santiago
  • Bound In Flesh – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago
  • The Dark One – With Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago.

Ash Inside The World (HD, 15:59) – Craig DiGregorio goes episode by episode giving production tidbits and little fun asides regarding the various things on the show (Guest stars, creatures, effects work, Bruce Campbell).  I think these ran as little individual pieces that would follow the airings of the episodes and the OnDemand presentation.

How To Kill A Deadite (HD, 2:31) – Bruce Campbell gives a bit about the deadites and then he and people hanging around some convention give their 2 cents on how to.  Presented sort of like a commercial

Best Of Ash (HD, 1:27) – A promo ad for the show

Season Two

DISC 1

Audio Commentary

  • Home – By Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago
  • The Morgue – By Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago
  • Last Call – By Executive Producer Robert Tapert and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Lucy Lawless

DISC 2

Audio Commentary

  • Trapped Inside – By Executive Producer Robert Tapert and Actors Dana DeLorenzo and Lucy Lawless
  • Home Again – By Director/Co-Executive Producer Rick Jacobson, Executive Producer Robert Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless and Ray Santiago
  • Second Coming – By Director/Co-Executive Producer Rick Jacobson, Executive Producer Robert Tapert, Executive Producer/Actor Bruce Campbell and Actors Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless

Season 2 First Look (HD, 2:17) – A quick little sneak peak commercial that ran on Starz leading up to Season 2.

Inside The World Of Ash Vs Evil Dead  – Robert Tapert goes over a brief bit about the story of a given episode, but mainly the aspect that he finds so special about it. These also contain some other interview bits and on-set footage.

  • Inside Episode 201: Home (HD, 1:28) 
  • Inside Episode 2o2: The Morgue (HD, 1:38) 
  • Inside Episode 203: Last Call (HD, 1:22)
  • Inside Episode 204: D.U.I. (HD, 1:49) 
  • Inside Episode 205: Confinement (HD, 1:41)
  • Inside Episode 206: Trapped Inside (HD, 1:52)
  • Inside Episode 207: Delusion (HD, 1:43)
  • Inside Episode 208: Ashy Slashy (HD, 1:41)
  • Inside Episode 209: Home Again (HD, 1:40)
  • Inside Episode 210: Second Coming (HD, 1:56)

Up Your Ash (HD, 2:22) – A little piece on the behind the scenes of the infamous and all-timer franchise scene with Ash stuck up the ass. You know what scene I’m talking about.

Women Who Kick Ash (HD, 2:08) – A look at the female characters on the show with interviews from the cast. Its mainly focused on Ruby and Linda B.

Puppets Are Cute (HD, 1:09) – A little bit about the Ash puppet that made its debut in this season. Mostly just little thoughts, nothing to in depth.

Dawn of the Spawn (HD, 1:22) – Featurette on the spawn monsters, casting, design and their overall effectiveness.

Bringing Henrietta Back (HD, 1:35) – Discusses bringing back Ted Raimi to play his signature role from the second Evil Dead film.

The Delta (HD, 2:13) – All about Ash’s 1973 Delta 88 Oldsmobile and its history in being Sam Raimi’s old car that he puts in everything. Campbell says he’s known the car for 40 years (Raimi’s mom once dropped them off at A Clockwork Orange in it).

How To Kill A Deadite (HD, 2:18) – The cast talks about the many weapons and ways to kill their supernatural nemesis.

Fatality Mash Up (HD, :49) – All the kills of season 2, played really quickly to some metal.

Season Three

DISC 1 & 2

Audio Commentary

  • With Executive Producer Robert Tapert (Every Episode)

DISC 2

Season Overview (HD, 2:48) – A little promo video for the season that probably aired between movies on Starz. Little snippets of Bruce Campbell, Arielle Carver-O’Neill, Lucy Lawless, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Lindsay Farris interviews to us general character setups for the season.

Inside The World Of Ash Vs Evil Dead – Post episode analysis and insight on each episode from Robert Tapert. If you were watching via Starz app or VOD, this would play following the episode.

  • Inside Episode 301: “Family” (HD, 2:02)
  • Inside Episode 302: “Booth Three” (HD, 1:40)
  • Inside Episode 303: “Apparently Dead” (HD, 1:55)
  • Inside Episode 304: “Unfinished Business” (HD, 1:48) 
  • Inside Episode 305: “Baby Proof” (HD, 2:07)
  • Inside Episode 306: “Tales From The Rift” (HD, 1:46) 
  • Inside Episode 307: “Twist And Shout” (HD, 1:42)
  • Inside Episode 308: “Rifting Apart” (HD, 1:55)
  • Inside Episode 309: “Judgement Day” (HD, 1:58)
  • Inside Episode 310: “The Mettle Of Man” (HD, 1:36)

Summary 

Ash vs Evil Dead is a show I am going to miss, but one that will be a simple revisit due to the nature of the short episodes and short lived series. This set collects that entire run with all the discs that have been previously releases in one nice case. If you already own them, you can pass, but if you’ve been holding out or not started picking them up, this is the one to grab.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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