I’ve been an Evil Dead fan since about 1994. I remember my buddy Scott showing me Army of Darkness very late one night when I was sleep-deprived and pretty punchy. I thought it was goofy but fucking hilarious. I was already a fan of horror and started talking about the movie to my buddies, who told me it was actually the third part of a series called Evil Dead.
This was before the days of streaming video, so I hit up the local Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Second Cinema and more looking for Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. I came up short everywhere I looked, but I did not give up. I took to the internet and Evil Dead fans looking to bootleg their copies which, at the time, were very hard to find.
I loved Evil Dead in a way that was different than my love of Army of Darkness. Evil Dead was made by a couple crazy college kids, going rogue and making a movie against all odds on a limited budget and borrowed equipment. The movie gets even better as you know the obstacles they faced and the ways they worked around those obstacles. The commentary should be required listening to anyone looking to make films.
Evil Dead 2 was similarly goofy. It bridged the gap perfectly between the Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, being a legitimate horror but with some really goofy, funny moments.
I was such a fan of the series and of the community that was trading VHS copies of the films that I decided to give back to the community. I started and participated in several newsgroups about the movies and sent off many bootlegs of the movies to strangers across the country to share the love. I collected copies from other countries which sometimes included a few random different scenes and shots in them. At the time, these differences were painstakingly documents in websites and communities with screenshots or even low-res, horrible videos of them. This was the internet in the mid-to-late 90’s, and it was a rough time in the world of online video.
During this phase of my fandom, I also came across a video copy of Within the Woods. At the time, this was the crown jewel of Evil Dead fandom. It was the movie Bruce and Sam made to get money for Evil Dead. It had several similarities with Evil Dead of course, but also several differences. The video was low quality, but just fascinating to watch the beginning of the idea that spanned many decades of film.
During this time, I created a website devoted to Army of Darkness. It documented the differences between the various versions of the movie in different countries or shown on random cable channels that may have had elements added or removed or re-arranged. As an aside, I am also thankful for the movie series for this. I was in high school while I made this website and it turns out I really enjoyed it. And I was good at it. I went on to make websites for a living. Now, 20 years later, I’m still making websites and I love my job. I am thankful for the community back then and the passion that led me down this road, and in a very real way I credit these silly movies for that.
I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of a remake. But I have realized in my life as a horror fan who has seen several thousand remakes, that even the worse remake doesn’t ruin the original. I watched the remake and enjoyed it, although for me, it was ultimately more forgettable than the original. This may just have to do with my age and place in my life when I watched it. It was a good, modern take on some of the elements of the original.
I’d given up hopes of seeing Ash again decades before the announcement that Starz was bringing Ash back. I couldn’t believe that over 20 years since Army of Darkness, we’d see Ash back on our screens.
And yet, here he was.
Ash vs. Evil Dead was not perfect, but for what it was, it was brilliant. It was clear it was made for the fans of Evil Dead and Ash. They did not disappoint with the insane blood and gore from part 2, the goofiness of part 3, and even brought back Cheryl from the original movie. I’d hoped for more of course. I would’ve loved to see all the original cast back in their roles in some way.
We got an expanded mythology with a lot more information on the Necronomicon and Ruby and the dagger and the Knights of Sumaria. Over the course of 3 seasons, we got 15 additional hours of Ash and the Evil Dead. That’s far more than the original 3 movies ever gave us.
But all good things must come to an end.
This week, the series ended. Part of the show were summed up admirably. Ash finally acted like the hero we always wanted to see. He embraced his destiny and acted selflessly to save his friends and his daughter. We’ve always loved Ash as a reluctant hero of course, but I also loved seeing him finally act like the hero he’d accidentally been all this time. The last chunk of season 3 seemed very much like a “thank you” to the fans, bringing back our old favorite lines, even if they were sometimes shoehorned in.
The series ends with Ash waking up at some point in an undefined future, with his Delta that had been retrofitted as a tank and looking at a post-apocalyptic world. I don’t know if this was an intentional reference to the original ending to Army of Darkness when he wakes up in a similar predicament, but the similarities were too big to ignore.
For now, Ash’s story comes to a close. As does Brandi’s, and Pablo’s and Kelly’s. We don’t know where their fate lies. It does make me wonder if they thought a season 4 was surely coming, because there are still a lot of loose ends here.
I don’t know if we’ll see Ash again. I hope in 10 or 15 years, we’ll see him return and pass the shotgun and chainsaw on to the next reluctant hero and we’ll get the sendoff Ash, and the fans, deserve. I shouldn’t hold out hope, but I choose to hope anyway.
For now, that’s the end of Ash’s saga. And how does it feel? Groovy.