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Ash and his boomstick are back to save the fall

Evil Dead is back after more than two decades since Ash fought the “Army of Darkness.”

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Ash and his boomstick are back to save the fall

Emilio Aldea | Daily 49er

Emilio Aldea | Daily 49er

Emilio Aldea | Daily 49er

Greg Diaz, Editor-in-chief

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It has been 23 years since Ash Williams last took on the evil hoard of Deadites in “Army of Darkness”; twenty-three long years without Ash’s boomstick, his evil twin, his one-liners or his “hand that went bad” that got replaced with a chainsaw.

Except none of that is true.

Because while it has been a couple decades since the last in the Evil Dead series was released, Ash has been fighting the Deadites on VCRs, DVD players, Blu-ray and streaming on the Internet over and over.

While “Evil Dead” certainly isn’t the first horror film to spawn multiple sequels, there was always something very different between it and horror franchises such as “Halloween” and “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

So much of the horror genre lives or dies on our desire to see the worst monsters of our nightmares killing expendable leads. But Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell created something very different, building a horror franchise around a hero that we want to see live.

Campbell so embodies the square-jawed, wise-cracking Ash that even though it has been 23 years since he last strapped a chainsaw to his arm, he slides right back into the role with tremendous ease (with the help of a tight-fitting girdle).

It is no surprise that Campbell can still play the part, as he has been playing variations of Ash in nearly every role since. However there was no guarantee that Raimi (who directed the first episode) would still be up to the task of creating a series worthy of the iconic character.

But through one episode of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” it would seem that time away has been kind to Raimi as well. The first episode moves swiftly and deftly, setting up new characters and diving right back into the gore and scares that made the series such a cult favorite.

The series acknowledges right from the start just how much time has lapsed since the audience last left Ash, who’s now looking much older and out of shape and yet no more wiser.

Now living in a trailer park, Ash is still working in a big box store and still making terrible decisions regarding the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead for the uninitiated.

For within the first few minutes of the pilot, Ash has unleashed the Deadites yet again, this time the result of a stoned night with a young blonde.

The series would not be able to sustain 10 episodes on just the back of Bruce Campbell alone. Sam Raimi does an admirable job making the new characters seem relevant to the story and giving them personality within a 40-minute episode (future episodes will be closer to a half hour). Because that is the only way it is going to matter if they live or die by the end of the season; something that even “The Walking Dead” has not been able to figure out over 6 seasons.

Throughout the series, Raimi has been able to go back and forth with the Deadites, making them at times scary and at other times incredibly silly, and “Ash vs. Evil Dead” has both in spades. There is simply no other reaction but to laugh when the Deadites attack Ash with a doll the size of thumb. Yet, Raimi is also able to create a profound sense of dread with nothing more than a spinning flashlight in a dark room, some fake blood and monster makeup.

Raimi seems to recognize that what made “The Evil Dead” movies great wasn’t that they were campy or scary; it was that they could do both until you weren’t sure if it was safe to laugh or needed to scream.

But give “Ash vs Evil Dead” one episode and one thing will be for sure: it’ll be difficult to actually look away.

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