‘Ash vs. Evil Dead': A fitting response to our super-serious zombie mania

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Ash vs Evil Dead’ Exclusive Portraits by TheWrap (Photos).

Today’s TV Talk is on the scary side, because what else do you expect for Halloween weekend? “Ash vs Evil Dead” star Bruce Campbell has found that jumping back into the shoes of zombie fighter Ash Williams is not as seamless at 57 as it was when he first played the role at 23 in the original “Evil Dead” movie. “Stepping back, you step tenderly, cause you’ll blow your knee otherwise,” the actor told TheWrap in an exclusive video shot with “Ash vs Evil Dead” executive producer Craig DiGregorio. “A lot more hot ointment rubs, I gotta stretch more.” In the new Starz series, which premieres Saturday, Ash surfaces from a two-decade-long hiatus from saving the world, working in a shop and ignoring his fate as a hero. Here’s a round-up of news, and Halloween-y programs to watch this weekend. “The Walking Dead” lives!: In no surprise to anyone, AMC has renewed its undead megahit, “The Walking Dead,” for Season 7.

Although there have been three films in the series (four, if you count Fede Alvarez’s unpleasant and unsuccessful 2013 reboot), each negates the one that came before: Cast members change, timelines shift and crucial narrative details get rewritten. Ash is surrounded by some fresh, young blood including Kelly (Dana Delorenzo), Pablo (Ray Santiago), and State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones). “These are all beautiful, young, talented actors who I surround the creaky old Ash with, that’s the model that we’ve gone with,” Campbell said. In a press release, AMC modestly reminds us that the zombie thriller, which recently started Season 6, is the top show on TV among viewers aged 18-49, which are exactly the demographic group advertisers most want to get their mitts on. The actor also noted that the Starz production is considerably safer than Sam Raimi‘s original 1981 film, in which he carried and fired a loaded shotgun — and that wasn’t even the craziest aspect of the first shoot. “I held a real, live, running chainsaw over an actress’s neck, it was just dumb,” Campbell said. “But now we have rubber chainsaw blades, we have better harnesses that won’t snag… guns that don’t have real stuff in it.” One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the look of the series. Evil Dead,” premiering Saturday on Starz, feels like a king-size candy-bar bonanza for a holiday sorely in need of some full-contact, rock-and-roll gross-outs and good times.

None other than William Shatner passed down a technique that led to some stunt driving for Campbell in the first episode of the new TV series “Ash Vs. Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Hellraiser – none can boast a consistent cast of characters or sturdy mythology, just a fresh roster of nubile victims and the same old bogeyman who almost always gets goofier as the series wears on. Here are some highlights: Exorcism: Live!”: Feel free to raise an eyebrow, but Destination America wants us all to get excited about what they’re calling the first-ever live television exorcism.

View Archive Once again dipping into the lore and gore of a franchise begun with his 1981 hit cult film “The Evil Dead,” creator Sam Raimi and his collaborators have found a strange but perfect node between ghastly horror and glib humor, a style that is often duplicated but never quite matches an “Evil Dead” gestalt. That would be Ash Williams, a stock boy who repeatedly finds himself stumbling into a battle against the Deadites, interchangeable demons fond of possessing Ash’s loved ones and re-enacting Three Stooges bits. Bruce Campbell started playing the reluctant hero in 1981’s The Evil Dead, and has carved a career out of the role (including 2007’s My Name Is Bruce, in which the actor is mistaken for a real-life monster-killer). This is, Destination America says, the true-life case that inspired “The Exorcist.” And “no one has ever attempt to cleanse the house of the spirits and demons that remain there, until now,” says the press release. In the years since he last tussled with the demonic creatures he calls the “Deadites,” Ash has been keeping a low profile in rural Michigan, living in a trailer park and once again working as a clerk in an appliance store.

For good reason, too: Campbell brings an endearing and comforting cockiness to the role, allowing Ash to be a quippy good guy and a comforting distraction from Raimi’s extreme gore. Members of the cast of the Destination America series, “Ghost Asylum,” including “the Tennessee Wraith Chasers,” will be on hand, along with “psychic medium” Chip Coffey. Not only can viewers watch from the safety of their presumably demon-free homes, they can watch live camera feeds on their computers and comment on any nasty spirits that may spot. Campbell learned how to do it when he met Shatner on the comic-con circuit, where stars mingle backstage between autograph sessions and photo ops. “When Shatner comes in, I always check in with him, see how he’s doing, then I leave him alone,” Campbell says. Just as TV has become the go-to arena for franchise resurrections (Fuller House, Heroes Reborn, X-Files, Gilmore Girls), so have Raimi and Co. brought back their chainsaw-handed doofus, though once again the details of his previous exploits have been reworked.

Despite their frightening makeup and acrobatic abilities, the Deadites are still hams who have a delightful gift for gab: “Stop fussin’, muffin — I just want to put [my fingernails] through your eyes,” hisses Ash’s now-possessed landlady. No longer battling hellions at discount store S-Mart or transported into a postapocalyptic future (as various endings of the third Evil Dead film put forth), Ash is now a past-his-prime clerk at the Value Stop electronics shop. Evil Dead” is a reminder of how solemn we’ve become since AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (followed by “Fear the Walking Dead”) came into our lives. The Deadites no longer fit our rather strict definitions of what a zombie should be; their clownishness (which is to say their essential harmlessness) seems almost outré now that we’re so deeply invested in “The Walking Dead’s” realism and a narrative in which beloved characters often lose the battle and meet their demise. Plots were never the franchise’s strong suit, but Raimi excels at producing lots of over-the-top violence, all accented with a streak of slapstick and one-liners.

The key, Shatner told him, is “you have the stunt guys shave the emergency brake, so it doesn’t lock up the wheels when you pull it,” Campbell says. Friday, Oct. 30 on NBC/8) Scream Queens” Marathon: The new Fox series about mean girls at a college sorority and the serial killer in the Red Devil mask who’s murdering students gets the Halloween marathon treatment, as the first six episodes air. (6 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31 on FX) “The Simpsons” “Treehouse of Horror” episode marathon: All 25 of the annual Halloween episodes air in order, beginning with “Treehouse of Horror I.” (11:30 a.m. When the stump of Ash’s right arm connects once more with his famous chain saw, you know it’s time to party, and pretty soon everything in the show looks like an explosion at the Ragu spaghetti-sauce factory.

However, if you simply can’t stand all that fun, you can slink right over to SundanceTV, which on Saturday begins airing the second season of Fabrice Gobert’s spooky French drama “The Returned” (“Les Revenants”). Yes, this is the same show that A&E remade as a U.S. version — a pointless and possibly insulting exercise, much as when Fox remade “Broadchurch” as a stink bomb called “Gracepoint.” Back in the sad little lake town in the Rhône-Alps region of France, things are the same as far as the mood and the pacing go, but something ineffably crucial about the show has changed since season 1. The story is still focused on the fact that some residents of the town who had died in years past began mysteriously returning, not as zombies so much as living ghosts, with no explanation for their resurrection. As a marker of just how long it has been, the saucer-eyed little boy Victor (Swann Nambotin), who was the show’s most memorable returnee, is now verging on pubescence, which sort of ruins the trapped-in-time effect. Morose aesthetics aside, it also feels as if Gobert and company are pawing around in the dark, looking for a way to extend “The Returned”and not coming up with anything other than to further puzzle the viewer.

Others may find that the show still hits just the right spot between beauty and philosophical creepiness, but two episodes in, I was elegantly yet irretrievably bored out of my mind.

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