When Starz announced their new series Ash Vs. Evil Dead, many die-hard horror fans were left scratching their heads. Yes, audiences were given that 2013 remake but that movie didn’t quite answer the need Evil Dead fans have been holding onto for years. Once the official first trailer for the new series from Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert premiered this past weekend at Comic-Con, however, the mood seemed to quickly change across the horror community. Soon after the Deadite goodness hit the internet, we had a chance to sit down with Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Lucy Lawless who gave us more groovy details on what to expect from the new series.
Bruce Campbell on how it feels to play Ash Williams again after all these years:
It is a pain in the ass to play Ash. Its a very uncomfortable role to do. Just get covered in blood for one day and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The hair on your arms get messed up because your sleeves are stuck. I have to sort of pull myself apart at the end of the day.
Campbell elaborated a bit on why Starz is the right network for the series:
I wouldn’t be sitting here if we didn’t have Starz because I don’t think it would’ve happened. Starz was the only ones who gave us what we were looking for which was unrestricted content — because look, the idea is we’re not out to offend anybody with this material or intentionally take advantage of that — but we don’t want anyone to say, ‘Oh you need to shoot an alternate version of that where you say ‘Golly’ instead of ‘F*ckface,’ you know?
Now we get to say whatever we want and there’s no issues. I tell ya how liberating that is and as a filmmaker, as the years go by, those are the things that I look for. What’s going to be an enjoyable experience here? Are we going to be able to do what we want and have fun doing it or are we going to have to constantly be looking over our shoulder?
On the importance of the new “Ash vs. Evil Dead” TV narrative:
Well we wanted half hour episodes to keep the pace up. Because if you want comedy, and there’s an element of it, you need pace. If you go to an hour format, it’s a whole different ballgame. You have to slow everything down and you have to get into their backstory and bleh bleh bleh. Half hour was a very conscious decision on Rob Tapert’s part. He was really convinced it should not be an hour. And it’s a very gruelling show to make. By making a half hour show, you’re not making people show up for 8 months under these circumstances. It’s four months. Every season is like making a big feature film.
On why they opted to shoot the series all the way in New Zealand:
People are like why go to New Zealand? It’s the other end of the Earth. It is, but, these are crew members who were weened on Hercules and Xena and Lord Of The Rings and Spartacus. All they know how to do is stunts and special effects. Green screen. Sword play. Special props. Explosions. These guys can do anything. They recreated one of the original sets in the most meticulous fashion. It gave me chills when I walked in for the first time. I’m like holy f*ck, I’m back here again. Everywhere you looked, every angle that you looked, every window…it was the same. The hallways, the doors, the furnishings in it… it was mind boggling. I’ve been doing this for a long time and these guys are good.
Campbell also acknowledged the quality of the scares and the attention to story:
We’ve always been over the top so I never thought we’d have to be over over the top. I think if you have more experience as a filmmaker, your means to entertain remains viable. If something scared you in the ’70s and you do it right, it’ll scare you 20 years later. If it works, it works. There’s a lot of tried and true ways to scare people that havent changed. To me torture porn is not scary, though. Put a guy’s dick in a vice for a half an hour and poke it with a stick…that’s just disturbing. It’s not scary. To me, that’s lazy writing and lazy filmmaking.
Speaking of filmmaking, Sam and Ivan Raimi soon joined us to further elaborate on the ins and outs of the new series and how the story here fits the Evil Dead movie canon.
Sam Raimi had mixed emotions regarding all the fans cosplaying as Ash at Comic-Con:
It’s cool. It’s surprising. When we made Evil Dead, we were hoping to make something good enough that wouldn’t be rejected by the drive-ins. So all these years later when we see people dressing up like these characters at Comic-Con, it’s like Science Fiction.
After the trailer premiered at Comic-Con, Raimi understood the demand to bring his brother Ted into the mix:
I heard the call loud and clear in the hall and we actually looked for a place to put him but we couldn’t find the right position that wasn’t just a walk-on. We would love having him there and would love to see him but we just don’t have the right role for him. But, if we get another season of the show, we’ll definitely come up with a role that’s worthy of Ted and the fans’ expectations.
Ivan Raimi chimed in to discuss what it was like catching up with Ash after all these years:
It’s great to be able to play with Ash after so long because we like him and wondered what happened to him. We left him at a place that wasn’t completely finished. Either in the far along future [from the Army of Darkness director's cut] or back at S-Mart, both will suffice as they are totally unfinished places. There’s a lot more story to tell with him and it’s fun to tell the story when he’s older now. He still has the same — or even more — problems but much less insight.
Speaking of Army of Darkness, Sam Raimi explained why you won’t find any references to the film in the new series:
It’s because of licensing reasons, I only had the rights to pull from things in Evil Dead 1 and Evil Dead 2. So anything that came from Army of Darkness, I didn’t have the right to use unfortunately. But I try not to let that get in the way of the fans enjoyment of what we were doing. So you won’t see any references to anything that happened in Army of Darkness. Still, most of Ash’s development comes from the first two and that’s relevant to the series anyway.
When Lucy Lawless joined us, she was all smiles. Up until now, her character on “Ash vs. Evil Dead” was a mystery. Not anymore, though, as it looks like Lawless will be playing a relative of the original owner of the Necronomicon:
The first episode, I love it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. And then it went to another level. And then it went to another level! And then they took it somewhere your imagination couldn’t even go! It’s super funny how he lets the Deadites out. Thats when my character whose last name is Knowby — Professor Knowby owned the Necronomicon in the movie…
According to Lawless, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is mostly connected to Evil Dead II:
At the beginning we didn’t know what the show was going to be and it’s turning out to be truer to Evil Dead 2 — that’s just my words — its very true. You’re going to recognize some of the sets. And Bruce was in uncanny valley when he was inside these sets going, “Holy sh*t!” They even got the tree, meticulous details of the view outside the windows.
As mentioned earlier, “Ash vs. Evil Dead” goes heavy on the blood and gore. Lawless gave us a better idea of what it’s like working with the practical effects on set. Key word: pus:
We had this pus rig attached to a dagger and — did he tell you about the beer keg that explodes blood? This is pretty intense stuff. I have the pus rig and I’m cutting around this dude’s face and it oozes pus and then it hits the heart of it and all this blood goes blooosh. We only shot it once, it was so good the whole crew went WHOA behind the monitors. They’re constantly inventing and taking things to another level in an innovative and gruesome way. How do you keep topping yourself when you’ve got someone in a meat grinder, or whatever, but they keep coming up with new ideas that keep being realized on screen.
One way “Ash vs. Evil Dead” will differ from the films, according to Lawless, is the show’s new family element:
What’s different in the series is we have to have him [Ash] playing off this rag tag family that has been introduced played by Dana DeLorenzo and Ray Santiago. God they’re funny! They’re beautiful, these actors, and they give him kind of a family. And then when my character comes into the fold it adds a really nice element to the group. But in Evil Dead, nothing nice lasts very long.
Before we parted ways, Lucy Lawless wanted to reassure the Evil Dead fans with one last statement:
Everything you’ve dreamed is about to happen!