Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have both confirmed the existence of an upcoming Starz series called Ash vs Evil Dead, causing excitement in fans of the franchise. The team that created the bloodiest, sickest, and most gut-busting horror trilogy of all time is bringing back the smart-mouthed housewares employee for round four against the Deadite menace. Followers of the Evil Dead series hope that the gory humor seen in the older editions of Evil Dead, which made the series so successful, will be continued in Ash vs Evil Dead. Fans, however, must prepare this time, and brace themselves against the unavoidable stream of negative criticism that Ash vs Evil Dead will undoubtedly garner from those with a blindness toward irony and a weak stomach for over-the-top violence. The argument brings to the surface a question that has laid dormant since Saw: the Final Chapter: Is there any true artistic merit in violence?
It seems that any flick that sends fans into a mad frenzy of praise elicits an equally passionate, yet far more negative response from parents and clergymen regarding the virtues of reveling in the images of chainsaw massacres and bloody Halloweens. It seems silly in this day and age, but there are many people who will ignore story structure, character development, and cinematography in a well-made horror film and focus instead on the amount of red corn syrup being splashed around, declaring it “torture porn.” The same backlash does not exist for films like Goodfellas, which uses f-bombs like conjunctions, or Wolf of Wall Street, which displays more nudity than a late-night Cinemax special. Films like Pulp Fiction or Django Unchained, however, seem to be held to close scrutiny. Is it because the violence is really that jarring? Even Goodfellas had some rough scenes. Or is it because of the names attached to the projects? Without a big name behind it, Ash vs Evil Dead may not have a chance.
Martin Scorcese is an incredible director, and is considered one of the greats. His cinematic judgement is trusted universally. Stanley Kubrick may use some difficult imagery, but it is deemed acceptable because he is seen as artistic. Quentin Tarantino, however, continues to be a contentious figure in the film world, and so the backlash against every aspect of Django was pretty aggressive. The Saw series was generally panned by many and cast aside as existing for pure shock value, although the films consisted of far more story than graphic violence, and many of the executions took place off-screen. This may be because the series had three directors (James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman, and Kevin Greutert) and none were so mainstay that they inspired unshakeable confidence. Although the Starz series, Ash vs Evil Dead, is considered a comedy and will surely contain the same gory humor of old, in order for it to be successful, viewers must be able to see past the engineered violence in order to accurately judge the show.
Sam Raimi directed all three original Spider-Man films, and, more recently, Oz the Great and Powerful, which was panned by critics. The hardcore fans of The Evil Dead know that Raimi is obviously the best man to do Ash vs Evil Dead, but there are questions as to whether his is a big enough name to safeguard against snap judgments of the project. The recent Evil Dead remake did not make much of an impact in the film world, and came and went rather quietly. Fans were split – torn between its reverence of the original and the new, more grim tone. The darker tone may have held it back significantly by making the violence more disturbing, whereas the slapstick tone of Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness made the absurd bloodbath fun to behold. Perhaps the serious story lines of the Saw films turned off audiences because it represented realistic death, which holds realistic consequences. If Ash vs Evil Dead on Starz reclaims its gory-yet-humorous origins and holds fast to what made the series great, perhaps it can be successful. If not, it may go the way of earlier installments and fade away with little notice.
Opinion by William Monteith
Screenrant.com: Bruce Campbell Offers ‘Ash Vs. Evil Dead’ TV Series Details