by Anthony Zangrillo
Walking into the Hammerstein Ballroom, it was clear this panel would be special. Handing out “Ash for President” pins and chainsaw foam fingers the people at Starz wanted people to know that this was an event for Evil Dead fans through and through. They didn’t take much time to prove it either when comic-con frequenter Kevin Smith took stage to give introduction to the two stars of the night, lead star Bruce Campbell and producer, as well as director of the first episode, Sam Raimi. Once the two came up though, few words were spoken until they excitedly asked if the crowd wanted to have the episode premiered. The crowd’s response was an unsurprising wave of cheering and though the pilot was expected to be shown at comic-con, what was not expected was how fantastic the episode would be.
I’ll keep the plot summary brief, as the episode is more entertaining with its surprises kept as just that. The episode takes no time to get the audience situated back in the Evil Dead universe, with Bruce Campbell’s Ash back in action delivering the laughs you expect. With a ridiculous opening that reintroduces you to the character he had evolved into over the course of the last three Evil Dead films (though, as Sam Raimi says in the Q&A after the rights to Army of Darkness have not been acquired therefor there will be no direct refences), as well as reestablishes as the spirits of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis released due to a hilarious incident that I’ll not spoil here. What follows is a series of wonderfully hilarious moments, perfectly executed horror moments, and a ton of swearing, blood, and sex. Ash gains sidekicks in Ray Santiango’s Pablo and and Dana DeLorenzo’s Kelly. Their story seems simple, find out what is going on, what they can do to stop it, and how. There isn’t too much convolution, just a simple story to allow all the fun to take place around. There is also a great side-story featuring Jill Marie Jones as a cop named Amanda Fisher who has a run in with the spirits of the dead on a call. She’s haunted by her experiences and is put on leave at work. Her story is left open in the first episode with no real direction, but a meeting with Lucy Lawless’ character Ruby seems to show that the two might team-up for an unknown mission. The story was nothing intense or complex, but that was never what Evil Dead was about, it was always about the comedy and the horror and both are fully present here, mixing perfectly as they usually do in this universe.
What Evil Dead also is ultimately about, is the greatness it has in its two stars, director Sam Raimi and main actor Bruce Campbell. After what I thought was a flop in Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi is back at doing what he does best and truly shines directing this episode. He manages to create highly entertaining scenes that feature his highly inventive and creative filmmaking decisions that managed to make me such a fan of him in the first place. The way his camera moves so menacingly and fluidly is something that is so unique to not only this universe, but Raimi’s filmmaking style that when the show begins to do it-you know that this was made in the right hands. No one cares about this franchise more than the people behind this show, and this is highly refreshing to know. Bruce Campbell is a natural lead, he is so unbelievable charismatic, hilarious, and believable in his role that he seemingly does it effortlessly- and he probably does. At this point I’d be hard pressed to believe that Bruce Campbell isn’t Ash himself and he really brings something special to the series. Even though Raimi is leaving for future episodes, I know that Bruce Campbell would never go in the wrong direction. The episode was overall utterly fantastic, as a fan of the series I found few that didn’t work for me (well, maybe Ash’s intense womanizing character can be a bit too much at times) and I would recommend everyone to give this a show as it’s a constant blast.
Unsurprisingly, he dominated the Q&A panel after. Though the whole leading cast was there alongside Raimi and Campbell, alongside with the man who will be showrunning. Everyone was very happy to be allowed into the universe that was built nearly 30 years ago. The passion and respect everyone really emitted from their words and voices; there was no doubt there was dedication to the creation of a good product and it showed in the product itself. Most questions were just ways to get Bruce Campbell to take the stage and show off his natural humor and charisma. It was amazing seeing him as person as you can see his persona so clearly both on screen and in real life. This man proves to be completely “the real deal.” The rest of the cast remained in quiet as the crowd was clearly just infatuated with Campbell and Raimi, but they did give their fair share of gratitude and sharing with the audience. The future of the show was kept hush-hush, though there was hinting of possible time traveling and of course promises of more blood and Evil Dead glory. Overall, this is one of the shows I was most excited about this year and I’m glad to be reporting of how wonderful it turned out to be; the show is pure, bloody entertainment.