By Curtis G. Schmitt
On Friday, April 20th, Evil Dead fans were dealt a devastating blow when Starz announced that it was canceling Ash vs. Evil Dead. It’s funny to think back to when the series was first announced and recall how skeptical I was. But the show delivered all the gore, thrills, and Ash one-liners that I could have wanted, and I’m sad to see it go.
As a tribute to this great run, I wanted to share my favorite moments from the show. And who knows? Maybe with the right Kandarian incantation, the Evil Dead franchise can be resurrected once again. Let’s all keep our eyes out for abandoned cabins with reel to reel tape decks.
Editor's Note: Not all the moments were posted officially online. AFJ went with the Starz promo for each episode. Call it a tease to go an watch the whole episode. #AFJ4LIFE
10. Ash Is Back
There are funnier scenes in the series, there are gorier scenes in the series, and there are more bad ass scenes in the series. But I couldn’t call myself an Evil Dead fan if I didn’t celebrate our first glimpse of Ash Williams in the 22 years since Army of Darkness was released. In this Sam Raimi directed pilot episode, we meet Ash doing his version of Travis Bickle in the mirror as he prepares to head out to the bar to go get some (which he does, thanks to his severed hand — “You like my wood?”). Seeing him rock out to Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin’” and trying to relive the glory days of his youth is an emotionally nuanced moment, both glorious and tragic. But it’s the perfect place for this character to begin a brand new story arc.
9. Return to the Cabin
“Fire in the Hole” is a mixed bag in this fan’s opinion, but it ends on one of my favorite shots in the series: Close up of the forest floor. Ash’s possessed hand crawls into frame. The camera tilts up and gives us our first glimpse of the dreaded cabin in the woods where Ash’s demon-filled nightmare began. Cue “Time Has Come Today” by Bootsy Collins and Ash’s hand scurries up the path to the front door. Cut to credits. Groovy.
8. The Possessed Delta
Ash William’s Delta 88 Oldsmobile (Sam Raimi’s actual car that his mom gave him when he was a teenager) is almost a character in the Evil Dead movies. That’s why it was so much fun to see it become a true character and demonic adversary for Ash in “DUI.” The setting for Ash’s battle with the Delta is perfect — part bullfight, part gladiator match. And it was a nice touch that his dad’s advice helps him win the fight (“I’m hard, Dad!”). It’s a great moment and a great change of pace for a show that could easily become a tedious serious of generic demon fights in the wrong hands.
7. Ash’s Man Sauce
Of course, Ash would be a regular at the local sperm bank (“Booth three, as usual?”). Of course, his semen would be legendary. And of course, a show that features poop gags and blood galore would eventually succumb (say the word slowly, Beavis) to the temptation of weaponizing another bodily fluid. In “Booth Three,” Ash dodges sperm bullets and fights with an “armed” porno mag, all set to A-ha’s “Take On Me.” This episode is wrong in all the right ways.
6. Meeting Ash’s Father
In “Home,” the season 2 premiere, we are introduced to Ash’s dad, Brock “You can call me Cock” Williams. Who better to play the father of our action hero protagonist than the Six-Million Dollar Man himself? There are several great moments in Lee Major’s multi-episode run on the show, but in this fan’s opinion nothing beats that introduction where, in the span of just a few seconds, Brock insults his son, hits on Kelly, and calls Pablo an “illegal.” That’s everything we need to know about the character to set up a rather touching arc between father and son (as touching as a show about a guy with a chainsaw for a hand can get, that is).
5. The Return of Cheryl
Speaking of family, hardcore Evil Dead fans were treated to the surprise return of Ash’s sister in “Trapped Inside.” Reprising her role from the original 1981 movie, Ellen Sandweiss chews as much scenery as possessed Cheryl chews flesh. In a callback to the movie’s most infamous scene (the “branch bang” as Ash puts it), Cheryl delivers one of my favorite lines from a series full of great lines: “I’m gonna make like a tree and fuck you!” It’s a joy to see these actors back together again. This episode is a great example of how Ash vs. Evil Dead makes the most of its history while adding to it in fun and clever ways.
4. Seeing the Drafter
Conceived as a inexpensive way to represent the demonic evil summoned by the Necronomicon, the low angle POV tracking shot utilized in The Evil Dead and its sequels gave the action a dynamic energy that was unique and genuinely threatening. But it begged the question, what in hell (literally) has been chasing Ash through the woods? After decades of wondering, we’re finally given our first look of the “drafter” (as Ash calls it) in “Brujo.” We only get glimpses in the Delta’s rearview mirror, but when it destroys that passing car, I got tingles.
3. Kelly and the Meat Slicer
Ash vs. Evil Dead is built on a solid foundation of bloody fight scenes with demons, and there’s easily a dozen that could have occupied this spot on the list. But I decided to go with the Western Moose restaurant fight from “The Killer of Killers.” Boy tossed into a ceiling fan, Ash’s “what, you never saw a guy with a chainsaw hand before” line, Pablo’s slide across the floor shooting a gun, and Kelly using the meat slicer to dispatch the demon waitress (“Thin slice, just how I like it”) while Ash looks on proudly. Bloody good fun.
2. Ashy Slashy
Ash has encountered some weird manifestations of evil but none quite as cute as Ashy Slashy, the hand puppet. “Ashy Slashy” was the nickname the town used to taunt Ash after he returned from killing his demon-possessed friends at the cabin so many years ago. But in “Delusion,” Baal disguised as Ash’s shrink gives him a “stunningly handsome” hand puppet of himself (chainsaw hand and all) to use in his therapy. Hero and puppet trade quips in this episode, and in the next episode Kelly fights Ashy Slashy in a delightful Child’s Play meets Evil Dead mashup.
1. The Colon Monster
My favorite moment of all by quite a margin is also arguably the grossest scene in the entire franchise. In “The Morgue,” Ash fights what those behind the show have dubbed “the colon monster.” Without spoiling the best (or worst?) parts of this episode, suffice it to say that Ash gets neck deep in the grossest fight of his career. According to Craig DiGregorio, the showrunner at the time, executive producer Robert Tapert hated this idea and DiGregorio had to fight to keep it in the show. It’s divided the fans a bit, but when I saw it I giggled and squirmed in the same way I did when I first saw Evil Dead II. That’s a gift, and it’s why it’s my favorite moment from Ash vs. Evil Dead.
Agree or disagree? What did I miss? Tell us your favorite moments from the show in the comments below.
Curtis G. Schmitt has been a writer for most of his life, Curtis keeps busy these days writing the non-profit fundraising appeal letters that fill your recycling bin, fiction that only his girlfriend cares to read, and the occasional article for his friend Bob.