Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ash vs. Evil Dead - Ashes to Ashes

Ash doesn't pay taxes, so all he knows is death.

Michael J. Bassett, the director of the 'Bait' and 'Books from Beyond' episode earlier in this first season of the Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series, took on a different job with this episode, writing the teleplay for Tony Tilse to direct. Tilse had been working in television for twenty years at this point, directing TV movies and episodes of many different series, including the popular sci-fi show Farscape. His next work after Ash vs. Evil Dead was another horror show, as he directed most of the episodes of the six part Wolf Creek mini-series, a serialized sequel to Wolf Creek and Wolf Creek 2.

For the bulk of its 27 minutes, 'Ashes to Ashes' has a bit more of a subdued tone than some of the episodes that preceded it. It does shift into action gear in the back end, but before that this episode is busy supplying fans of the Evil Dead franchise with a heavy dose of nostalgia and déjà vu. This is the one where the characters reach what may be the final destination of the season, the cabin in the woods that was the setting for the events of The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II.

The place was faithfully recreated, so it's packed with familiar sights, even if those sights are continuity errors. For example, the door to the cellar is still intact, despite Ash having sawed through it thirty years earlier. But this franchise has never been one for strict continuity. The Necronomic Ex Mortis, the demon-summoning Book of the Dead, shouldn't be around, either. Ash burned it in the first movie. But here it is, still causing trouble. As Ash's sidekicks Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) and Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) discussed in an earlier episode, Ash told them about his attempt at burning the book and said it doesn't work. It seemed to work pretty well at the time.

That reel-to-reel tape recorder that was once used to play Book of the Dead translations is still there. That famous clock is hanging on the wall, Ash's severed evil hand is crawling around inside the walls, there's that chalk outline where the chainsaw is supposed to be in the work shed, the severed and sawed head of Ash's lost love Linda, who he had to dismember after she became possessed, is still clamped inside the vice in the work shed. Obviously nobody else has been to the cabin in the last three decades. Unless they just stopped by to repair that cellar door.

Silly nitpicks aside, it was great to watch Ash make his way around this location again.

Ash and Michigan State Police officer Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) arrive at the cabin ahead of Pablo and Kelly, and even though there is an unexpected romantic spark between Ash and Fisher, they don't have much time to explore it, demons keep getting in the way. Soon after their arrival at the cabin, the evil forces start playing mind games with the pair, games that include Linda's head appearing to come to life. Linda was played by a different actress in every Evil Dead movie, and this time Rebekkah Farrell takes over the role so she can cause Ash further torment.

As the episode draws to a conclusion, tragedy strikes around the same time that a bit of Army of Darkness begins to creep into the story. Things end on a down note, but I can't help but be excited for what lies ahead, because the introduction of some new characters mid-episode seems to be setting things up for a couple episodes of old school Evil Dead "bloodbath in the cabin" action.

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