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Ash Vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

Ash-Vs-Evil-Dead-S1“Ash vs Evil Dead,” the 10-episode half-hour STARZ Original series, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film The Evil Dead.  The series is executive produced by Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, The Grudge), Rob Tapert (The Evil Dead, The Grudge), and Bruce Campbell (“Burn Notice,” Oz the Great and Powerful, The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness), the original filmmakers, and Craig DiGregorio who serves as executive producer and showrunner. The cast also includes Lucy Lawless as Ruby (“Parks and Recreation,” “Spartacus” franchise, “Battlestar Galactica,” “Xena: Warrior Princess”), a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar (In Time, “Raising Hope,” “Dexter,” Meet the Fockers), an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell (“Impress Me,” A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fisher (“Sleepy Hollow,” “Girlfriends”), a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.

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Season 

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.  Here’s to season 2!

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Episodes

El Jefe

Bait

Books From Beyond

Brujo

The Host

The Killer of Killers

Fire in the Hole

Ashes to Ashes

Bound in Flesh

The Dark One

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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

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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.

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Extras 

Ash Vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season is a 2-Disc set.

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

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Summary 

Ash Vs Evil Dead was probably my favorite and best new show of 2015.  I was excited as hell for it from its announcement, then the first trailer and then it blew any high expectation away on Halloween when it premiered.  The show is hilarious, scary, gross and has some really great character work done.  Plus you get not just Bruce Campbell doing what we love him doing best, but as a bonus Lucy Lawless gets to play ball here too.  Also, the younger cast members hold their own.  Starz/Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray debut of the series features a top notch presentation with some generic extras aside from the commentaries (EVERY episode).  Evil Dead fans, c’mon, you know you HAVE to have this!

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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).

1 Response to “Ash Vs Evil Dead: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Robert Chadwick

    Hey, Do you know if this is region free or locked to A?