It's the end of The Evil Dead as we know it... and I feel fine.

It's the end of The Evil Dead as we know it... and I feel fine.

Ash Vs Evil Dead 1

Ok so, here it is, the Evil Dead franchise, as we know it, comes to an end tonight on Starz and Bruce Campbell has stated many times, and certainly, recently, with some finality that he is hanging up his boomstick for good as Ash. Whatever the future has in store for the cast and the franchise - and you'll hear my thoughts on what I think below - for now, it is done. Gone. Dead. 

And guess what, that's ok, things die. Things SHOULD die. Part of being an adult is understanding and accepting that. 

Not a lot of adults on the internet these days, it seems.

More on that later. 

So, what's been going on and why have there been no new weekly Ash Vs Evil Dead reviews on the After Movie Diner?

Well, let me just say this before we really get started: I am a huge fan of the Evil Dead franchise, the TV show, the computer games and the THREE films (fuck cash-grab remakes all to hell). I say this so that if I say something negative in the upcoming paragraphs you know that it comes from a place of love and frustration, and never from a place of just wanton, internet bitching. I will leave those whiny, childish, trolls for reddit and Facebook groups.

Ash VS Evil Dead 3

Throughout season two and for the first three episodes of season three I was writing weekly, spoiler free reviews. Then they stopped. And now there's this rambling piece. Well a lot of life stuff happened - I got sick with bronchitis, I got busy, I traveled, my fiancé and I are planning a wedding and I am mostly just one guy writing, podcasting and editing this website. I have terrific and awesome contributors but everything ends up on my desk and sometimes I just don't have the time.

But that's not the whole reason. If I am honest with myself, deep down - in the dark places where the things you dare not speak lurk, claw, burble and spit like anthropomorphic boils just begging to get lanced and drained - Ash vs Evil Dead wasn't floating my boat, blowing my skirt up or rocking my world anymore. 

Starz did something different for us reviewers this year. Instead of releasing the episodes one at a time for review each week in their "media room", they released episodes 1-5 and then 6-9 and then episode 10. This meant that I binge watched the first 5 episodes and then went back and started re-watching them episode by episode to review them. The trouble with that is I already knew what was coming and it wasn't as inspiring or interesting to write each episode review. It was tricky to remember what happened in each episode because Season Three takes place all in Elk Grove and through, what appears to be, a perpetual night. It all looked identical. Did the whole season take place in one night? It can't have?! I have watched it all several times and even now I couldn't tell you - and that's a problem. Ultimately though, by episode three I was running out of ways to say: the writing is awful but the cast and production values are excellent. It became frustrating, the weeks rolled on, they cancelled the show and here we are.

Ash Vs Evil Dead 5

The Evil Dead franchise always had a problem after Army of Darkness - which ending do we pick to continue the series? It turns out it's a problem the TV Show never bothered to fully solve either. In fact, when you step back from the three complete seasons you realise that they spent three seasons wrestling with that issue and trying to undo all the inconsistencies in the franchise. There was a lot made of how the show would flesh out Ash and progress him but actually, after three seasons and 15 more hours of Ash, he's right back where he always has been since the ending of Army of Darkness 25 years ago. The irony, shame and frustration is that just as we get to the point where Ash can finally have some new and varied adventures - away from the woods, cabins and small rural towns of America - the show got cancelled. 

And make no mistake, the show getting cancelled? that's YOUR fault. (more on that later)

Weirdly this issue with the ending of Army of Darkness is a problem with a lack of imagination of the writers. It was sort of the problem the computer games had as well - so again Ash hung around in the cabin, the woods or run down buildings in rural America. There is a long running and controversial Army of Darkness comic book series from Dynamite - controversial because Raimi, Campbell and Tapert don't make a cent from them - where the writers just went wild with ideas and cross overs and embraced everything that was possible in the pages of a comic book when NBS/Universal is giving you all their properties to play with. 

Now, the show was apparently hampered as only being able to use content from Evil Dead 1 and 2 - one of the reasons the show was made at Starz, beyond the lack of content restrictions and producer Rob Tapert's working relationship with them was because Starz owns Anchor Bay and Anchor Bay has been putting out ED 1 and 2 DVDs/Blus for years - but, thanks to the end of ED 2 they could use time travel, portals and Ash as the chose one who went to medieval times. They even brought Evil Ash back TWICE during Ash Vs Evil Dead so, what exactly was holding them back or hampering them from having Ash portal jumping, time traveling and crossing over with other Starz/Anchor Bay and now Lionsgate properties? Ash Vs Killer Robots in the Chopping Mall anyone? A lack of imagination, that's what. 

Ash VS Evil Dead 6

The first season of Ash Vs Evil Dead took Ash on the road and the series had a wonderful flavour where no two episodes were really alike. Also there was a lot of stuff happening at different times of the day and in different locations. It was exciting and inventive, the one lines weren't there yet, Bruce wasn't quite there yet and there was too much infantile, gross out humour but in general the series barreled along and gave us a great intro to Kelly and Pablo.

Then the second season took us to Elk Grove, MI. This was important to the plot, gave Ash a background to finally face, a family etc. but once we were in Elk Grove, stuff, much like behind the scenes on the show, just started to fall apart. There were filler episodes, nothing much progressed, no consistent over arching plot emerged and it had a quickly slammed together ending, again, back at the cabin. The decision was made that time travel and having Kelly turn out to be Ash's daughter was wrong and instead some weird, celebration in the future with ghosts and evil Ruby and... wait... whatever happened to Linda B?!? oh and then the book is found again in the woods... rinse and repeat. Don't get me wrong, season two had some awesome episodes and amazing moments but I am discussing, primarily the writing here.

Ash Vs Evil Dead 7

Then season three decided to give Ash a daughter after all but instead of making it a character, Kelly and an actor, Dana DeLorenzo who the audience has had time to grow to know and love - giving the characters and actors the chance to play out the drama, awkwardness and eventual team up that this revelation would bring - they instead introduce two new cast members, give them no back story and make one of them, Dalton, basically cannon fodder and a possible antagonist to the Kelly/Pablo will they/won't they relationship (which doesn't go anywhere at all). They stay in Elk Grove, it's perpetually night time, they sideline two fan favourite characters (especially the wonderful Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly) and try "vaguely" to tell the story of Ash as "the chosen one" without ever really telling a story at all. Do we really know any more about Ash being the prophesised one, how that happened, why it's happening or anything by the end of Episode 10? Meanwhile our other plot line for the Season, which could've created some tension but doesn't, is that Ruby (again? I love LOVE Lucy Lawless but this show needed more villains) is trying to wipe out Ash's bloodline and replace him with a weird demon baby version of him that she gave birth to because she licked him out of the Necronomicon? what? to what end? why?

Someone should've marched into Tapert's office and the writer's room and said ENOUGH! If you weren't going to make Kelly Ash's daughter then scrap that completely and have Ash time traveling or portal jumping into new places, fighting deadites, wooing women and learning more about himself in the process. 

In fact, scratch that, someone should've said when the series was first mooted:

"The Evil Dead as a TV Series... ok, but what's the story we're telling here?"

Nobody did, ever.

Craig DiGregorio did what he could to some extent and his first season was way more enjoyable and consistent than the Tapert/DiGregorio second season - which at least still seemed to be aiming at something and going somewhere - and the Mark Verheiden third season floundered around, retreading places and sequences we've already seen, never having a clear focus on anything and ultimately taking Ash right back to the place where the whole TV series should've started with in the first place (or at least got there by the end of Season one).

Ash VS Evil Dead 2

However, and all that being said, the 15 hours of Ash Vs Evil Dead that we got contained some of the best, most memorable, well produced, amazingly acted and downright fun sequences from the whole franchise and it gave us Kelly and Pablo, two better editions to this world of gore and mayhem I can't imagine. The stunts were great, the lighting was great, the costumes kicked ass, the camera work was both nostalgic and modern - as a show it was a sumptuous, treat for the senses. It brought back Cheryl, gave us Ted Raimi's Chet, lots more Joe LoDuca music, Lee Majors as Ash's Dad, a return to the cabin, more Evil Ash, more Bruce Campbell, more chainsaw, more boomstick and more mad, violent joy than you can shake a stick at. 

For me and my fan relationship with Ash Vs Evil Dead it was always more about what we did get than what we didn't. It was an insane show, a show destined to never really work but it was filled with gory, funny, inventive, well filmed, well acted moments that I'll cherish and re-watch just about as much as Ash fighting his own hand in Evil Dead 2.

Even in Season Three we got the coffin sequence, sperm bank sequence, the sequence where Brock comes back from the dead and takes a spooky and brilliantly shot shower, Ash VS Evil Ash in a shocking, silly and blood soaked high school chainsaw massacre, Kelly Vs Ruby, Pablo Vs a deadite in the hardware store, Brandy vs her phone, Ash and the gang in the rift driving the classic and that whole final episode 10 which was so watchable, so epic, so well acted, so funny, so frustrating and so teasing as to both be angry we wont get a fourth season and be relieved it's all just finally over. 

Kelly Vs Ruby - Ash Vs Evil Dead

For all the hilarious and action packed Ash driving a tank bits, Brandy and Ash emotional moments, Kelly bad-assery and the phenomenal special effects and old school, almost stop motion and clay molded, design of the ultimate demon bad guy, in episode 10 there was one moment that I will cherish forever and that's Bruce Campbell's double take/face pulling when the guy in the wheel chair, in the alleyway, says "we're all doomed!" It's Bruce Campbell's occasional, subtle acting choices that make him endlessly watchable.

Bruce has stated, both in the run up to cancellation and now, most definitely after the news broke that he will never play Ash again and while I would've watched the show if it went 6 seasons and a movie, he is completely right in this decision. In interviews he's talked about wanting to make his own movies with his wife. He finally has some money, a bit of a name for himself and the time to do what he's really always loved doing and that's making weird, fun little movies with his friends and I couldn't be happier.

A lot of people hate the films Kevin Smith has made without Jay and Silent Bob, a lot of people don't understand why Robert Rodriguez started up a cable channel or some of the weird, little movies he makes starring his family but what they're missing is that these are directors and writers who get to do whatever they want. They make 'em cheap, trade on their name and casts to sell 'em overseas so that it more than covers the budget and then get distribution deals in the U.S. to go straight to video or streaming. Bruce has been saying for ages that making movies is cheaper and easier than ever and I think he wants to start doing that. How cool would it be if Bruce wants to use his convention, Ash Vs Evil Dead and Burn Notice cash to start churning out little Oregon produced movies. I'd watch every single one of them. I hope he does it and I hope he gets Josh Becker, Scott Spiegel, Ted Raimi, Ellen Sandweiss, Danny Hicks, Tim Quill and, fingers crossed, maybe even Sam Raimi to be in them or help him with them. I never wanted an Evil Dead 4 so much as I wanted more films with Bruce in the lead, directed by Sam and produced by Rob. The Ash Vs Evil Dead pilot episode got us that, kind of but I hope, in the future, they work together again on something new. That's really exciting.

Ash Vs Evil Dead Episode 10

However, sadly, based on the reactions of certain so-called "fans" Bruce Campbell is mainly going to be fending off questions, useless internet petitions and endless, childish, whining about "Evil Dead 4", "Maybe Netflix will pick up Ash Vs Evil Dead", "What about the remake/original crossover film idea" and "Go on, play Ash again". Urgh, fans are some of the most annoying creatures on earth. For two decades I had to sit back and watch them at conventions ask "what about Evil Dead 4" like unimaginative parrots and then when we finally got 15 more damn hours of Evil Dead they don't fucking watch the damn thing! Then when it's cancelled they blame everyone and their aunties before they blame themselves!

Here are some of their lame ass excuses from a bunch of screwheads:

  1. Starz is too expensive - it's about the price of three Starbucks regular coffees & a pack of gum a month for the App and it's cheaper than Netflix, HBO or Showtime. I bet you spend more on a sandwich for lunch in a crappy deli than you would on a months worth of kick ass viewing.
  2. Why would I get the Starz app just for one show? - I don't know, maybe because you want that show to continue? Also the Starz App has tons of cool shows and a bunch of cool movies too! 
  3. I buy the DVDs and Blu-Rays or wait till Netflix - then you're not contributing to the viewing numbers and nobody cares.
  4. Starz didn't advertise enough - can you believe this? I actually read this from people in a Facebook group called 'Ash Vs Evil Dead fans'
  5. Starz set it up to fail by moving it to February/putting it against The Walking Dead even though they moved it to make sure it wasn't pitted against all the shows that premiere in October.
  6. Starz doesn't let me watch Ash Vs Evil Dead in my country - Well, guess what, moron, Starz doesn't control that.
    1. Yes it's 2018, we are a global community, we shouldn't be building walls, we're not countries anymore we're all one world, Blu-Rays shouldn't have regions and global streaming services like Netflix shouldn't need different versions in every country, one App should be able to stream worldwide but, unfortunately, things in reality don't work like that.
      Since the first time that content was created and shipped out around the globe, copyrights and content ownership has been split up, tangled, sold, re-bought, re-sold and corporations have come, gone, bought up other corporations etc. over and over again. This is how Army of Darkness has 41 distributors between TV, theatrical and physical media like DVDs throughout the U.S. and the world.
    2. Also Ash VS Evil Dead has screened and streamed worldwide on C More in Scandinavia, Stan in Australia, Amedia in Russia, SKY TV in New Zealand, FOX Action on FOX+ Premium service/FOX Latin America Channels in Latin America, STARZ PLAY Arabia in the Middle East and North Africa, and Super Channel in Canada.

None of that matters anyway. What matters is that the first season averaged about 414,000 viewers and the third season averaged about 172,000 viewers. That doesn't take into account Netflix, Blu Rays or International, that's just American viewing figures from Starz. That's why it was cancelled. In a nutshell. That's it. Fans who watched the first season didn't stick with it. We got a season two and a season three with only an average of 308,000 viewers for season two and so none of your other complaints matter.

414,000 people in America, knew about the series, watched the series and then stopped watching the series.

As for Starz not advertising it enough or moving the date - You couldn't move around the internet as an Evil Dead fan without seeing stories, news and ads for the series. Bruce Campbell and the cast went to every major market and advertised it, Starz ran subway ads, billboard ads, did experiences at comic-con, gave out swag, did Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ads - I mean I really am not sure what else they could've done. They even offered a free seven day trial where you could binge the series and then cancel your subscription paying NOTHING. 

It's YOUR fault the series was cancelled. You so-called Evil Dead fans and now you're going to spend the rest of your pointless breath badgering the cast for more Evil Dead and websites like Bloody-Disgusting and others aren't fucking helping by posting click bait crap about how Evil Dead could continue...


I, for one, will be happy for what we received, sad we don't get any more but am all ready to support and promote whatever the cast gives us in the future. Honestly, the discovery of Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago will forever justify Ash Vs Evil Dead's existence enough, everything else was just the sugar on the cake, baby.

Ash VS Evil Dead - Bruce Campbell
“You’re out of order!”: …and Justice for All (1979)

“You’re out of order!”: …and Justice for All (1979)

Episode 248 - Black Panther

Episode 248 - Black Panther