Saturday, April 8, 2017

Ash vs. Evil Dead - Last Call

Ash can't fart without tripping over the Necronomicon.

Sam Raimi has a bit of an obsession with his cream-colored 1973 Delta 88 Oldsmobile. The car has been in every single movie he has ever made, starting with The Evil Dead. Even when he made a Western, he got the car on set by having it stripped down to the chassis so a wagon could be built over it. Since the car belonged to Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) in The Evil Dead, it's now one of the stars of the Starz television series continuation of the Evil Dead franchise because, yes, Ash has been driving the same car for over thirty years. Raimi's obsession with the Oldsmobile has been transplanted to the Ash character for this show, and as the third episode of season two begins Ash is hurting. His beloved car has been stolen by some rowdy teens in his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan.

Ash's plan to get his car back pulls another Raimi regular into the world of Ash vs. Evil Dead - Sam's younger brother Ted Raimi, who played a part in all three films in the initial Evil Dead trilogy, but who missed out on appearing in season one of the series. Now Ted has joined the cast as Ash's childhood friend Chet Kaminski, now a bartender who will happily help Ash mix up a batch of their famous high school party drink Pink F*ck - an alcoholic drink with a healthy dose of Ketamine mixed in. These middle-aged men plan to throw a party that the local high schoolers, including the car thieves, will be drawn to.

But the evil forces stirred up by the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, the Book of the Dead, have different plans for the thieving teens, and scoring some Pink F*ck is the last of their concerns. What happens to them makes this episode a major showcase of the Oldsmobile's abilities.

Also getting a bit of showcase in this episode is Lee Majors as Ash's disapproving father Brock, who shares a lot of character traits with his wayward son. Brock shows up at the bar where Ash is throwing his Pink F*ck party, leading to some fun interactions between Brock and the ladies at the party and a mechanical bull-riding contest between the Williams boys. Although Majors' face has very obviously been pasted onto the head of a double during the bull riding, he is awesome as Brock even if he can't do his own stunts, and it is a lot of fun to see where Ash got certain parts of his personality from.

Brock does come face-to-face with a Deadite in this episode, but unfortunately it doesn't seem like we're going to get to see how he would fare in a battle with Deadites that haven't taken him by surprise and shocked him with the revelation of their existence. That seems like a missed opportunity to me. I'm sure he'd be able to handle taking on at least a few of them, I have wonderful visions of Brock gunning down a whole horde of demons.

Episode two of this season, 'The Morgue', left me reeling for one reason, and 'Last Call' leaves me reeling for another. There is a touch of disappointment to the final moments of this one - not exactly in a negative way, but because there was something really good going on and apparently the saying "all good things must come to an end" is true.

Directed by Tony Tilse, who previously directed the Ash vs. Evil Dead episodes 'Ashes to Ashes', 'Bound in Flesh', and the unforgettable 'The Morgue', from a script by Noelle Valdivia, who has written episodes of such shows as Masters of Sex and Marco Polo, 'Last Call' is another great episode, a half hour that moves along at lightning speed and packs its minutes with action, blood, and laughs.

Now Ash really needs to get his car back.

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