Bruce Campbell is Unleashed in ASH VS THE EVIL DEAD The Complete Collection [Blu-review]

The horror series given new life as a TV show, is now available on Blu-ray

When it comes to horror, the iconic figures are usually the bad guys. Jason, Michael, Freddy, Leatherface. They steal the show, get defeated, and inevitably return, once again laying waste to whatever unfortunate souls cross their path. For a hero to emerge from their shadow, they need to do more than survive the encounter. While Laurie Strode, Nancy Thompson, and Sydney Prescott are worthy adversaries in their respective franchises, there is one character who took a more conventional, larger than life approach to emerging (kind of) victorious. Enter Bruce Campbell and his portrayal of Ash in the Evil Dead series. The seeds he planted with his work in the first film given chance to flourish in the sequel/remake Evil Dead II. An unsettling horror film that also managed to embrace the unhinged, all-in slapstick nature of Campbell’s performance. The third and final film in the trilogy Army of Darkness ramped up the comedy and action even more. A cult figure beloved by many, a TV series continuing his misadventures finished up it’s thoroughly enjoyable three season run recently, and has now been assembled into fine complete edition for your enjoyment.


Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell), the chainsaw-wielding, wisecracking antihero of the legendary The Evil Dead films, is back for more gore-filled adventure in this complete 30-episode collection of the “Ash vs Evil Dead” TV series. Follow Ash’s journey as he returns home to Elk Grove, Michigan, meets his long-lost daughter, and unites with former enemy Ruby (Lucy Lawless) and fellow demon fighters Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo) for a final blood-splattering stand to save the world!

Season 1

The show picks up decades after the events of the films. Ash is ever the showman, using his grand tales of fighting against the undead as a way to cope with the trauma, entertain at parties, and get laid. One such encounter prompts him in a show of bravado, to read from the cursed Necronomicon, the book for the dead that started him on his fateful path in life all those years ago. And so the deadites return to plague him once again.

Simple but effective, and very in keeping with the spirit of the films. A mix of arrogance and stupidity fueling the need for Ash to save the world, from himself. He’s not alone, being paired with some of his S-Mart coworkers Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo). While very familiar in terms of the events that unfold, things are a little more expansive. Taking in a cross-America journey to fix what has been done rather than being confined to a log cabin. Special effects are impressive, with the budget clearly surpassing the original films. Practical effects are deployed well, but it’s not as grimy and lo-fi as the films. While this makes for a less atmospheric piece, it’s surprisingly liberal with the gore and blood-letting.

The real core of the show, as it should be, is Bruce Campbell’s Ash, whose droll humor is tangible. He gets to flesh out the character a little more given the longer runtime, a season clocking in a 10 thirty minute episodes. The new supporting cast proving effective foils to both him and the horrors that unfurl around them. Lucy Lawless is also fantastic as a mysterious figure who seems to stand in their way. Overall it captures much of the tone of the trilogy, while leaning more into the goofy action than the horror. An episode directed by Sam Rami feels the most true to the series origins.

Season 1 Special Features:

  • Inside the World of Ash: A quick recap of each episode, production work (including special effects), interviews, and other fun little tidbits
  • How to Kill a Deadite: Campbell runs through his weaponry and approached to taking out the undead
  • Best of Ash: Montage baby
  • Audio Commentaries: Commentaries for all 10 episodes, all featuring the main trio of Bruce Campbell, Dana Delorenzo and Ray Santiago, while the first two episodes features production/directorial talent including Sam Rami and Bob Tapert.

Season 2

The second season carries on the good work laid out by the first. The major differences are in the introduction of some new supporting characters, notably Ted Raimi and Lee Majors, the latter brilliantly cast as Ash’s father. We also see a villain emerge in the form of Baal, a demonic entity that not only has a plan, but gives a little more structure to the deadite threat. In all, the show seems to find a bit more of a balance between letting Campbell dominate proceedings, and working with the other characters and story a little more. It certainly makes for a more cohesive experience. The show even manages to weave in a time travel conceit that sends Ash & co. back to that original cabin in the woods.

We still get plenty of gold from Campbell, especially when we see Ash return to his hometown and face up to much of the legacy he left behind. His practical work here is again notable, considering he’s no spring chicken he attacks his scenes with a impressive physical gusto. The practical effects and gore content also rise to the occasion with the special effects dept. seemingly given free license to up the gross factor. The action again comes to the fore, and with Ash returning home there is a temperance of the comedy compared to the first season. In all, it’s still a very entertaining time.

Season 2 Special Features:

  • Season 2 First Look: General overview of the seasons driving narrative
  • Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead: Like S1, a number of episode recaps that look at various aspects of the season
  • Up Your Ash: It wouldn’t be the Evil Dead without putting Ash/Bruce Campbell through the wringer. This featurette takes a look at one particularly gruesome scene
  • Women Who Kick Ash: Short featurette about the female members of the cast
  • Puppets Are Cute: Ash gets a fabric friend this season, one who gets his own short extra here
  • Dawn of the Spawn: Look at developing the new villain for season 2
  • Bringing Henrietta Back:
  • The Delta: Ash’s ride for the season gets a little look
  • How to Kill a Deadite: The cast share weapons, tactics, and special effects for dispatching the undead this season
  • Fatality Mash-Up: Kill montage!
  • Audio Commentaries: Commentaries for all 10 episodes featuring a mix of executive producers Rob Tapert and Rick Jacobson, and actors Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, and Ray Santiago

Season 3

Bringing out the series to a close was the third season, one that is a little smarter and more inventive that the first two, refreshingly so. It brings to a climax the threat of Baal, and his relationship with Ruby, a demon clawing it’s way into our world and how Ash has stood in his path for so long. The threat feels real, the stakes are evident in a number of the decisions made creatively which keeps the show from feeling stale. Unexpected things actually happen.

Ash takes another leap forward with the show introducing his daughter Brandy ( Arielle Carver-O’Neill), while it really begins to dawn on your how much Kelly and Pablo have grown over the series. Lucy Lawless also seems to be having a deliciously good time as Ruby. There’s a sense the showrunners are aiming for for quality over quantity too with the action and horror sequences being upped in scale at the cost of frequency. We get some pretty inventive kills and sequences including the hilarious emergence of yet another “Evil Ash” . There is a little cliffhanger here, the showrunners only learning of the shows cancellation just before the finale aired. But even still, the release here represents a solid overarching tale, and more importantly, allows us to bask in the glow of Ash for thirty rollicking episodes.

Season 3 Special Features:

  • Season Overview: Short and succinct overview of season 3
  • Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead: As previous, a little featurette for each episode that gives some insight and frames it against the season as a whole
  • Audio Commentaries: Commentaries that draw on the similar talent as the previous two seasons but also marvelously add in stunt Coordinator Stuart Thorp, actor Arielle Carver-O’Neill, and a number of writers and directors

The Bottom Line

Many fans of the Evil Dead are sure to have already checked out the show, but for those unsure that the deadite threat could sustain an ongoing TV show, fear not, the results are an absolute blast. Ash vs. the Evil Dead is a hilarious blend of horror and action, anchored by the charms of Bruce Campbell. This release offers the perfect way to reunite with the chosen one and go on one more blood soaked adventure.

Ash vs. the Evil Dead the complete collection is available on Blu-ray from October 16th

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