Ash vs. Evil Dead is the newest series from Starz, though it’s the continuation of a long-beloved property. The show is based on the classic films Evil Dead and Army of Darkness, and comes from director Sam Raimi. Bruce Campbell stars as the unlikely hero Ash.
We got a chance to sit down with Raimi, his brother Ivan Raimi, and stars Lucy Lawless and Campbell himself to talk about the show at San Diego Comic-Con. From the trailer, which premiered on Friday, you can tell the tone of the show is hardcore horror with a strong comedic influence. You’d expect nothing less from the sequel to these films. The show takes place in present day, after Ash — who is now the world’s oldest stock boy — makes a stupid mistake, and the Deadites return. Here are 14 things we learned about the series (and you can watch the new trailer here).
Lawless told us about her mysterious character Ruby: “Ruby is a thorn is Ash’s side. She’s gunning for him and I like to say she’s like Jaws. A bit of a slow build through the season. By the end of this season, you know what she’s about and you know how much trouble he’s in.”
- Lawless said that Ruby is connected the the original films. “Her name is Ruby Knowby. Back in the original films, professor Knowby was the holder of the book. She’s got a family history and a huge chip on her shoulder. She’s hunting Ash down.”
- She gave us a peek a the tone. “I’ve seen the first three episodes, and they’re solidly great. The humor is real. The horror is real. It manages to put those two genres together in a really beautiful way. It’s really hard to do both of those things together.” She said that “it’s like the second movie, so the humor is insane.”
- Lawless said that the show, which is 13 half hour episodes went really fast in terms of shooting, thought the post production is taking a long time. Rob Tappert is currently down shooting while the cast is at Comic-Con. She said that some of the show was developed on the fly as they sort of saw the production come together.
- Sam Raimi talked about the special effects and the balance between practical and CGI. “We tried to do everything practical that we could. That was really our approach. And then we used digital to clean up wires and sometimes hide a tube or paint things out. But it’s a practical show.”
- Sam Raimi joked about Campbell doing stunt work again. “He didn’t squak for a minute. Bruce has always been gung ho about doing stunts. Any physical abuse, he never complains. I did see a lot more pads being put on him. I have to say, I saw him limping around quietly, holding his knee. I never heard anything, but I’d see wounded images of him. I’d try not to focus on anything. He told me he does more stretching now.”
- Sam and Ivan told us that they decided to do a half-an hour show for budget reasons. “We were wondering which way to go with that,” Ivan said. “Comedies are traditionally half-hours and drama and horror is traditionally an hour. Ours fall somewhere in between. We never liked to use much of the back story, though we padded some of the later parts of the episode. We like to stick to the A story, the action and Ash.”
- We heard about the new character Pablo. Sam said, “Ray Santiago plays Pablo Simone Bolivar, and he is an immigrant from Honduras, an illegal immigrant, and he’s been hiding out in the states. He meets Ash as a co-worker in ValueMart. The authorities are really hunting Pablo to expel him from our country, while he’s fighting to save the world … he’s going to become Ash’s conscience. Like Sancho to Ash’s Don Quixote, if you believe Ash is that noble.”
The writers said Ash is no wiser than he was in the films. Sam said, “But we promise he’ll be crankier, maybe less open to new ideas, maybe more impatient. He’s older.” They said they think that people identify with him because he’s flawed.
- Campbell told us that he’s happy to be back doing this role again. “It’s exciting. Weird though. Really weird. It’s weird putting stumps back on and being covered with blood again. It reminded me how much I hate fake blood. I’d forgotten. I’ve not been covered in fake blood in a long time and I was like, s***, this is what it is. It’s winter in New Zealand. It’s cold. The studios are cold. You’re getting cold blood put on you. A nice warm bath at the end of the night is really good. Put some bath salts in there and it’s like, Calgon, take me away!”
- Campbell said the stunts are hard to pick up again. “ Painful. I use a lot of arnica to get rid of bruises and pain. I had to fight myself the other day. And so you’re doing both sides of the fight. So, just when you thought you were done, I had to do the other half of the fight. I was like uh. Right. You read the script and you’re like, oh, that’s fun. Then you have to do it. So it’s a big challenge. He didn’t admit that Evil Ash was back, though. “I didn’t say he was evil. I just said I fight myself. It might be in a mirror.”
- Campbell talked about why Ash is such an iconic character. “There aren’t that many good guys in horror. There aren’t that many good guys. Jason, Freddy – they’re all assholes. Ash is an asshole, but he’s a good guy. I think that’s really why. He’s a hero in the horror world. A trash-talking hero. He’s bold, he’s brash, he’s Ash.”
- We asked him where we find Ash at the beginning of the series. Campbell said, “In loserville. He’s on a one-way trip to loserville. He hasn’t done s*** for 30 years. He’s been hiding. He has one bad night, and everything comes back. Now he’s screwed. It’s a bad situation. I’m worried for the earth. He’s the only guy who can stop it. That’s what’s so sad about this. You’re stuck with this guy. I think it’s funny! It kind of cracks me up that Ash is the hero. I’m not qualified.”
- Campbell talked about his relationship with the new characters. “It’s a very dysfunctional [family]. It’s like Full House with mayhem. Ray Santiago plays Pablo. He’s an illegal immigrant, and Ash is not against pointing that out. Dana DeLorenzo plays Kelly, a disenfranchised farm girl. Jill Marie Jones plays a state trooper who gets way in over her head. It’s a great little eclectic group. I’m the only pasty white guy in the group.”
Ash vs. Evil Dead will premiere on Starz on Halloween night.