Five days into filming for the new Starz show Ash Vs. Evil Dead, we got an exclusive look into the highly anticipated continuation of the cult classic franchise.
We had the honor of being among a select group of media outlets to speak to writer and creator Sam Raimi, Ash himself (Bruce Campbell), and executive producer Robert Tapert to get more insight on what fans can expect.
As you probably know, the beloved film saga turned television series picks up Ash’s story 30 years after his battles with the Deadites. He’s described as a shell of a man who has spent the last few decades “avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead”. That is, until evil once again threatens mankind and he is forced to face his demons – “personal and literal”.
How will the show blend comedy and horror? Why are the Deadites back? Where has his boomstick been all this time? And what’s the deal with Lucy Lawless’ character?
Check out the drool-worthy answers to these questions and more after the break.
Nerd Approved: Fans were super excited to hear about Lucy Lawless being cast as Ruby. Can you provide any more details on her character?
Raimi: “She’s a woman of mystery and we don’t reveal too much about her real agenda or why she so desperately wants to track Ash down. But she has an unpleasant experience and I think Ash was involved with it which we’re going to learn about. But I don’t want to spoil what the writers have in store for you right now, except to say that she’s completely justified in her actions. And she’s going to become a formidable person to have on Ash’s tail.”
Nerd Approved: In an earlier interview, Bruce was asked whether or not time travel would be involved in the series. At that time he wasn’t sure. Is that still the case?
Raimi: “The first season takes place in the here and now, with Ash 30 years later and what he’s become and what he’ll have to face. But it’s certainly an element of the Necronomicon that some of the passages not only conjure demons, but portals of time and space. Perhaps at the end of the season, because we haven’t really discussed episodes 9 and 10 so much, or in the second season if the story took us there. We know it’s part of the Evil Dead universe so it’s always a possibility. But right now its not in the work that we’re doing.”
What can we expect in terms of genre? Is it more comedic horror like in Army of Darkness or hard line horror or a mix of both?
Raimi: “It’s a mix of both. We have elements of the Evil Dead films which have always had real hard edged, intense horror designed to really frighten the audience and no holds barred there. Starz has really taken the reigns off and allowed us to go to town and thrill the audience, chill them, and scare the heck outta them. But also, there is a comedic element that is alive in this, and it’s the thing we’ve found that audiences always liked the most about the Evil Dead movies. More and more we realized the thing that makes these films different is Bruce Campbell. Comedy is one of Bruce’s real inner strengths as a performer. We’re trying to go back to the horror of the first and second Evil Dead, but with the character that Bruce has created from the second and third Evil Dead.”
Will this series live in the same universe as the previous Evil Dead movies?
Raimi: “It doesn’t really exist in the exact same universe. It’s a slightly altered universe. It takes place in an alternate universe sometime after Evil Dead 2. I don’t want to spoil too much for the audience, but that’s the truest answer I can give you.”
Tapert: “Ash lives in the modern day world battling evil, in this era. The Army of Darkness doesn’t exist but Ash went through that experience. We’re not referencing specifics from it, but Ash certainly has that in his memory.”
Raimi: “We kind of want to take a politician’s stance on that and neither deny nor confirm. We want the audience to be open with no previous expectations for this show. We designed it to live outside of having to have seen any of the movies. But if you’ve seen one, two, or three of the movies, that it works really well for the viewer. That’s our intention.”
Are we going to see updated, different versions of the Deadites or will they carry over from the films?
Tapert: “We will play to what we once did with Deadites, even through the remake. But we’re trying to expand the universe so the storytelling over the first 10 episdoes we will encounter Deadites which are very different from other forces of evil out there. Then we will expose the audience to new entities that were not yet presented in the previous universe so the audience is surprised.”
Bruce: “Because [we] are doing a T.V. show and not a feature film, everything has to be structured differently and there needs to be a much bigger universe since the demands of the audience are every week. So we have to have a multiplicity of stories and angles and tangents, and it’s going to be a much bigger story.”
Raimi: “The Deadites have been dormant over the last 30 years and Ash has been living a low life hiding out. Our story really begins when they come back and someone is needed to stand up against them.”
Is it his fault that they come back?
Bruce: “Of Course!” [laughing]
In terms of storytelling, do you have to watch this from the beginning or drop in later in the season?
Tapert: “It is serialized so there’s over-arching plots, but each episode is a self contained story. The characters themselves are on a bigger journey so those that tune in every week will be rewarded, but the casual viewer can come in and out and still get what’s going on. It’s not as dense as other story-tellings and that’s one of the reasons we decided to use a half hour – we knew it would be the right format in the world of television for this particular project.”
Does the show allow for the same great special FX in tradition with the films?
Tapert: “Yes we absolutely want to continue the Evil Dead traditions with special FX and we’re working with a great team under Roger Murray in New Zealand.”
Bruce: “This is not going to be a watered-down version of Evil Dead. Thankfully by partnering with Starz, the gloves are off and we have no restrictions, almost literally. That’s going to suit the Evil Dead fans because they don’t like it watered-down. They like the hard core stuff and they’re gonna get it.”
Chainsaw technology I’m sure has changed over the last 30 years. Any new props for Ash?
Raimi: “Ash has stored his rig, just in case. He’s been living in fear of a resurgence of the Evil Dead, so that old rusted hulk of his, that’s one thing he’s kept oiled and in tip top shape. I think we will see that sweet baby come back. It’ll come roaring back to life for slicing and dicing the Deadites.”
Bruce: “And I think as far as the sound of the chainsaw, it’s important that we don’t use digital sound, that we use analog, something that was recorded on reel to reel tape. It has to have a bite and an edge and only analog can give you that. Digital is very clean and wonderful, but it doesn’t have that gnarly sound so I hope we can get a 1979 recording…or maybe steal it from the original movie.”
Raimi: [interrupts] “I got it Bruce, I got it on reel.”
The Evil Dead soundtracks are so iconic, what can we expect from this series?
Tapert: “Joe LoDuca will be doing the soundtrack on this. And we’ll be working with, something we haven’t done in Evil Dead, with older classic rock music from the 70’s and early 80’s because, of course, Ash has been stunted due to the developments in his life at that time and has never gone past those moments.”
Raimi: “We’ll also be working with some older generation talents in post production like Bob Murawski who will be editing the pilot. He cut the original Army of Darkness.”
Bruce: “And since has won an academy award for Hurt Locker.”
And here’s my favorite quote, when asked about why they decided to make a T.V. show as the sequel…
Bruce: “I’ve been going to conventions since 1988 and I hear it every convention, fans grumbling about another Evil Dead. So thankfully this all came together so we can give them the real thing over and over. We’ll now they’re gonna get it and they’re gonna get it good!”
With a team that has been working together for 30 years, who truly understand Ash and his fans, I am super stoked about this series. And now with confirmation that Starz is giving them free reign for gore, this is sounds like it will be a very satisfying weekly show for my inner horror fangirl. Can. Not. Wait.
Finally, check out the latest press release signaling the beginning of production on Ash Vs. Evil Dead:
Beverly Hills, Calif., April 23, 2015 – The STARZ Original series “Ash vs Evil Dead” began production this month in New Zealand on the 10-episode first season of the half-hour series executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio who will serve as executive producer and showrunner. “Ash vs Evil Dead” is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead and is set to premiere on STARZ in fall 2015.
Campbell will be reprising 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.
The cast is led by Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) in the role of Ash Williams, Lucy Lawless (“Salem,” “Spartacus”) as Ruby a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago (“Touch,” Meet the Fockers) as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo (A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas) as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones (“Sleepy Hollow”) as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.
Raimi is directing the first episode of “Ash vs Evil Dead” that he wrote with Ivan Raimi (Darkman, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell), Craig DiGregorio (“Workaholics,” “Chuck”) and Tom Spezialy (“Chuck,” “Reaper,” “Desperate Housewives”). Raimi will also serve as executive producer, with Rob Tapert (Evil Dead, “Spartacus,” Xena: Warrior Princess”) and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, “Burn Notice”) along with Craig DiGregorio (“Workaholics,” “Chuck”) who will serve as executive producer/showrunner. Ivan Raimi will co-executive produce and Aaron Lam (“Spartacus”) and Chloe Smith (“Spartacus”) will serve as producers.
Top Photo: Starz Entertainment