Once the first trailer hit for Ash vs Evil Dead, my expectations went through the roof. After now getting a chance to sit down and check out the first two episodes for the brand new series, I am pleased to say that not only has the new show exceeded whatever I could have possibly hoped for, but it has also given me a few things I never could have begun to expect as well. Hands down, Ash vs Evil Dead feels like a gift for all The Evil Dead fans and I’m beyond stoked to see where the series goes from here.

Since most of the fun to Ash vs Evil Dead involves some of the surprises cooked up by Sam Raimi and company, I’m going to do my best to give you guys a taste of what to expect without ruining any of the fun these two episodes have in store for viewers this upcoming Halloween (and beyond).

Pilot episodes, in general, are always a tough thing to pull off successfully; there’s always an awkwardness in establishing your story, the universe, all the characters and how they connect with each other which is why generally, even the most beloved series often start off unevenly. That being said, Ash vs Evil Dead doesn’t succumb to that pilot episode pressure at all, giving us a story that’s well thought-out and moves at a roller coaster-esque pace. It also does a fantastic job of acknowledging Ash’s past 30 years and sets up all his wacky Deadite-related misadventures to come.

Sure, it helps that this is a world many horror fans are already familiar with, but the way Raimi masterfully pulls you into where Ash’s life is at now (and to no surprise, he’s still the smug lothario anti-hero we’ve all loved for some time) and how it relates to the events that precede the series is handled with a lot of ingenuity and wit, making it very accessible for any viewer—whether you’re an Evil Dead die-hard or just a neophyte to Raimi’s world. Plus, there’s a great homage to Point Break in the first episode, so just in that small moment, Raimi made an instant fan out of me with that little nugget of awesomeness.

We do get to see how Ash is responsible for unleashing the latest demonic fury and all I can say is that the scene is truly a fitting tribute to his legendary lecherous behaviors. At this point, Ash has also moved up from S-Mart to the Value Stop and he’s just as inept at his job there as ever; his employment sets up his relationship with two new cohorts, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), and we see how the trio comes together amidst the arrival of the Deadites and what compels these new faces to follow Ash in his journey to stopping the demonic forces before things go too far. I really enjoy the relationships established between these three characters in the first two episodes, and it seems like Ash won’t be the only one getting tortured this season, as both Santiago and DeLorenzo are consistently abused and covered with blood and all sorts of gooey substances as well.

We are also introduced to several other characters in these first two shows; Jill Marie Jones portrays a cop placed on leave after she’s forced to shoot her partner once he goes full-on Deadite during a call one day. Her character is clearly linked to these evil entities, but just how much has not been revealed yet. Lucy Lawless also shows up briefly, but her arrival is shrouded in mystery, so I’m really curious to see just what she’s got up her sleeve, as it seems there is still much to be divulged. As a whole, there’s no doubt Ash vs Evil Dead is truly a vehicle for Campbell and his smug awesomeness, but I enjoyed how these first two episodes also made the other cast members feel just as integral to the overall story.

While there’s a lot to the Starz series that feels fresh and unexpected, there are also many elements incorporated into Ash vs Evil Dead that are plucked directly out of the original film series. We get some of those badass low-sweeping camera movements that signify whenever the evil has arrived, there’s an incredible amount of humor at play (hands down, my favorite line from both “El Jefe” and “The Bait” has to be when Ash declares, “Oh good, I was starting to feel like a real dick.”), but there are also some really great moments of terror and tension incorporated as well. Horror comedy can often be a difficult line to walk, but it seems like Raimi and his fellow series directors have a nice handle on balancing out those tones so far.

I’m also a big fan of the look of the Deadites in Ash vs Evil Dead; it feels like a cleaner version of what we saw in the first two Evil Dead movies and it works really well. The way the evil antagonizes Ash (and both Pablo and Kelly) on such a personal level is also a nice touch and gives these characters real stakes; sure, they want to save the world from the Deadites, but there’s also something more intimate driving them to rally against the evil tormenting them.

There’s definitely a lot more to discuss when it comes to what I’ve seen thus far from Ash vs Evil Dead, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the experience for anyone; all I can say is that for anyone who enjoys The Evil Dead films, Raimi’s sensibilities as a storyteller, or Campbell’s deadpan delivery, you should find the new series as enjoyable as I have. I’m thrilled that Starz took a chance on giving the franchise new life on the small screen and whoever decided to give Raimi and the show the thumbs up over at the network deserves all kinds of praise—or at the very least one of those amazing Edible Arrangements.

In this day and age when a lot of genre-related TV series are taking the more straightforward approach, it’s nice to see something come along like Ash vs Evil Dead that has a wickedly fun sense of humor, embraces all the wacky energy that made fans fall in love with the original films in the first place, while also bringing something new to the table, too. You simply won’t have more fun this Halloween than with Ash vs Evil Dead.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.