Even in a sub-genre as bloated as zombie horror, there are few franchises as unique as Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead. The first film, 1981’s The Evil Dead, was a by-the-numbers zombie flick whose only memoriable feature was Bruce Campbell as lead character Ash Williams.
It was only in the sequel that the franchise started to shine. Realeased in 1987, The Evil Dead II was a full remake of the first film in all but name but made the clever move of making it a dark comedy.
Things only got more ridiculous in the third film, 1992’s Army of Darkness, with any lingering horror elements being mostly abandoned.
Which brings us to this week’s Halloween-themed review, Ash vs The Evil Dead, the latest entry in the franchise.
The series follows Campbell’s Ash Williams 30 years after the events of the third film. In sharp contrast to his heroic persona in the films, here he’s a washed-up loser who clearly hasn’t moved on in those three decades.
When the “Deadites” (this world’s version of zombies) return to take over the world, he’s forced to join forces with his fellow shelf-packer Pablo (Ray Santiago) and his friend Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) to try and banish them once again.
The film’s biggest strength is that it doesn’t take itself even remotely seriously. It knows what it is and just revels in the utter absurdity of its own premise.
There’s plenty of gratuitous violence, lots of goofy slapstick and enough cheesy one-liners to fill several notebooks.
It’s low-brow entertainment at its finest and a whole lot of fun.