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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The artistry in horror

Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson 20.
Graphic by Kaitlyn Patterson ’20.

Why “Ash vs. Evil Dead” is one of the best shows on TV.

Horror is something that most audiences approach with a “love it or leave it” attitude. Either viewers embrace their chosen franchises, from “Halloween” in the 1970s to “The Walking Dead” in the 2010s, or those without a taste for it reject it altogether.

To put it plainly, horror isn’t often looked upon as a prestigious genre. It’s not likely to be nominated for Oscars, with films like “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Get Out” being rare exceptions. Blood and gore don’t exactly lend themselves to winning gold.

As a fan of movies like “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Re-Animator” and “Slither,” it’s disheartening to see a genre I like get overlooked so often. Even in the rare instances that a truly gory horror movie gets mainstream attention, like last year’s “It,” it usually takes itself too seriously, unwilling to have fun or keep a distinct personality.

It’s for these reasons that I’m so glad there’s “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

The Starz series, which just premiered its third season, is based on the “Evil Dead” film trilogy. It even features its original star, B-movie sensation Bruce Campbell, as his signature character Ash Williams, an immature renegade with a chainsaw for a hand.

Campbell first played the character in 1982’s “The Evil Dead,” as a scared college student who witnesses the demons of the Necronomicon (Book of the Dead) destroy his friends, girlfriend and sister. His heroics only increased in “Evil Dead II,” where he acquired the chainsaw hand, and “Army of Darkness,” where he saved the past from the so-called “Deadites” of the book.

Thirty-five years later, the writers of “AVED” have followed this trajectory to make Ash a pathetic, washed-up and egotistical middle-aged man, whose only marketable skill is “demon fighter.”

When he unwittingly reads the Necronomicon and unleashes further evil, Ash is back in the game. He’s joined in his quest by loyal sidekick Pablo (Ray Santiago) and sardonic fighter Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo).

Also present in the series is Lucy Lawless, the once and future “Xena, Warrior Princess,” who plays a multitude of characters. The interactions between Ash, his allies and the foulmouthed demons from the Necronomicon are both scary and funny, proving effective in intense situations.

In addition to clever writing, “AVED” reflects its source material in elaborate and bloody action scenes against the Deadites. It’s in these moments where the show revels in the original films’ grimy and gory roots, while still keeping a fun and lighthearted tone. The March 4 episode, for example, saw Ash fight a demon in a doctor’s office, with the whole clash set to “Take On Me” by a-ha.

It all sounds very silly. And it is, in the best way possible.

“AVED” has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek, but it succeeds because it knows how to keep balance between its horror and comedy elements. Campbell, also an executive producer on the show, conceived the series with Sam Raimi, director of the film trilogy and the filmmaker behind the first three “Spider-Man” movies, and this expertise and care is clear in each episode.

Call it lowbrow, but “AVED” is one of the most entertaining works in modern horror, and modern television as well. It hasn’t been nominated for a single Emmy for either of its two full seasons, and that’s a true shame.

In any case, even if the show never receives awards attention, its fans, including me, will still watch and cheer the heroes on through every episode.

How’s that for prestigious?

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