Ash vs Evil Dead

My most anticipated panel at the Television Critics Association summer press tour was the Starz panel for Ash Vs. Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell dominated the panel, both via questions asked of him, and those asked of his costars and collaborators. Wearing a white dinner jacket and what could’ve quite possibly been alligator shoes (from this distance from the stage), Campbell made sure to let the room know he was there as he talked about the bloody show and his long relationship with fans. 

Sam Raimi, who directs the pilot and produces the show, joined Campbell on stage and said Ash Vs. Evil Dead began as a feature film sequel script.

“First my brother Ivan and I wrote a movie,” Raimi said. “It was too big and unwieldy. Then our partner Rob Tapert said, ‘Why don’t we make it as a TV show? I’ve had some great experiences in television, [like] Spartacus. The threshold of what you can show on TV [has increased]. We can give the audience what they really wanted, which was Bruce Campbell as Ash. TV is about character. This is an opportunity to let him talk which Bruce loves to do. Starz said that’s exactly what we want to do.”

Campbell offered a descriptive illustration of how bloody the show can be. “I went blind the other day shooting a scene,” Campbell said. “Just picture that. Take a shower and open your eyes right into the faucet. That’s how much blood there is on this show. I’ve been gagged once and I went blind. That’s a lot of blood on the show. So anyone who’s looking for it, it’s coming your way.”

There won’t, however, be a tree rape. “I think you’re going to find things that disturb you as much as that sequence in the original Evil Dead but they’ll be different and new,” Campbell said.

The first episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead will be a 30-minute Sam Raimi movie. Raimi described some noticeable adjustments to his Evil Dead style in the television adaptation.

“We couldn’t set up as many trick shots,” Raimi said. “We had to focus on the character which is what the audience wanted anyways. I think the transition TV demanded was precisely what the fans wanted and will work out for the best.”

Both Campbell and Raimi spoke a lot about fans asking them about an Evil Dead sequel every year, even when Raimi was promoting Spider-Man movies. They joke about fans demanding more Ash, but when it comes down to it they sincerely want to please them.

“Even if I was over it, the fans would not allow me to be over it,” Campbell said. “I’ve gone to conventions since 1988, every subsequent year I hear, ‘When are you making more of this?’ I came to a realization. You’re only going to be remembered based on what people watch. If you only watch horror movies, I’m going to be remembered as Ash. I’ve actually been more pigeonholed by my fans than the film industry itself. I don’t think I was ever really over it. You get a little tired of not being able to answer them. I couldn’t really tell them so I was more frustrated like them, than being over it. I can’t be over the Evil Dead movies. They got me into the film business.”

Raimi revealed a little resistance to revisiting his original trilogy, but felt it was best to embrace it. “I had the same experience as Bruce,” Raimi said. “I thought I was very lucky in my film career. I got some great jobs, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2. I’d go to conventions and all people ask is when I’m going to make another Evil Dead film. I thought this is the biggest movie I could do and all you want to talk about [is Evil Dead]. They want this story from me. I thought I was telling other good stories but they don’t care about them. They want this one. We should really embrace it. It just takes a long time to get over yourself.”

Lucy Lawless was also on the panel to talk about her character on the show, Ruby. Ruby believes Ash is the cause of the deadite rising and she is hunting him. Raimi elaborated, “We needed a powerful adversary for Ash. Someone who can be formidable and you can believe can kick his butt. He’s a monster fighter every day. She has gravitas and is a real threat to him. That’s why Lucy’s a great choice.”

The Evil Dead team hasn’t ruled out more movies either, and Raimi would continue to direct them. “I’d love to direct if Bruce is starring in it and Rob was producing it, yeah,” Raimi said.

With all this talk about reviving old movies and shows, Lawless was asked about a Xena reboot. Lawless said that reports of her confirming a new Xena were false. She never said that. That didn’t stop Campbell from trolling her for work. “I pitched a 3 episode arc as Autolycus,” he deadpanned.

One reporter even asked Campbell if he would revisit Brisco County, Jr., the 1993 western series that lasted one season. Campbell said, “You never know. Never say never. Old TV shows used to age like fish but not anymore. They’ll pull anything out of the hat.”

He was more upset that the theme song to The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. became NBC’s theme song for The Olympics. “If we did a reboot of Brisco they’ll go, ‘Why are you using the theme of the Olympics?’ They stole my life, NBC.”

Ash Vs. Evil Dead premieres October 31 on Starz.

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