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Will the Real Ash Please Stand Up: My Favorite Thing About the Evil Dead Remake

Evil Dead remakeFor the first time in 23 years, iconic horror hero Ash Williams returns this coming October in the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead, which will finally put Bruce Campbell’s stump back into a chainsaw. Pretty exciting for all fans of the franchise, as it’s kind of an impossible dream come true.

Of course, this isn’t the first Evil Dead project to come along in the past two decades, as a remake of the original film was released back in 2013. It was a divisive remake, as most are, but I still have a hard time accepting any fan of the original series not being totally in love with what Fede Alvarez brought to the table.

An unrelenting 90-minutes of pure brutality, Evil Dead 2013 was a blood-soaked gift to Evil Dead fans, chock full of all the gruesome carnage one could possibly hope for. The fact that the film was given not just an R rating but also a wide release is quite frankly proof that somebody upstairs is looking out for us gore-hounds.

Many fans were disappointed by the fact that Ash Williams was not in the remake, though if you’re asking me that’s one of the most brilliant choices the film makes. It would be impossible to watch anyone else in the role and not compare that person to Bruce Campbell, and so it’s often best for remakes to throw iconic characters like Ash right out the window and start fresh.

Which brings me to one of my favorite aspects of the remake. Though there is no character named Ash Williams, nor one that fully embodies all the qualities of that character, the character’s traits are very much present throughout, as the clever script has a whole lot of fun playing around with the idea of which character is the Ash character.

Let’s take a closer look at those characters, to illustrate my point…

Evil Dead David

If there’s any character in the remake that most feels like Ash it’s Shiloh Fernandez’s David, who immediately appears to be the film’s hero. With his short black hair and familiar-looking blue work shirt, David very much plays the Ash character throughout the majority of the film, as he’s the brother figure who seems most equipped to deal with the Deadite invasion.

A couple of David’s scenes even pay direct homage to Ash scenes from the original Evil Dead, such as him finding a chainsaw in the work-shed and performing a live burial. As you can see in the image above, a scene of David slicing somebody up with a chainsaw was featured in the trailer, though for whatever reason it did not end up in the film.

Evil Dead Mia

Whereas David is Ash throughout much of Evil Dead 2013, and Mia is essentially the film’s main villain, the tables take a surprising turn in the latter portions, with Mia assuming the role of Ash. With all the other characters dead, Mia reverts back to her human self and becomes the badass heroine, slaying the demonic creature known as ‘The Abomination.’

In a brilliant little twist, Mia loses her hand during the battle with the monster, when a car falls atop it and forces her to rip it off her body. It’s a moment that echoes the fact that she has become the remake’s pseudo Ash, and it’s no surprise that she uses a chainsaw to finish off the villainous beast – oh yea, and she totally delivers a corny one-liner before doing so.

There’s a brief blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment during that climactic battle that I particularly love. After arming herself with the chainsaw, Mia inserts her bloody stump into the handle, almost making it look like the chainsaw has become an extension of her arm. It’s a nice little touch that further drives home the level of character homage that was paid to Ash, by Fede Alvarez.

By the end of the film, Mia has fully become a bonafide female Ash, and it’s surely no coincidence that both characters share a three-letter name.

Evil Dead Natalie

Though Ash is most represented in the characters of David and Mia, there’s also a fun little strand present in Natalie, whose hand becomes possessed by the evil force. Just like in Evil Dead 2, it’s a bite to the hand that spreads the infection, and just like Ash, Natalie resorts to cutting her own arm off – with an electric kitchen knife, rather than a chainsaw.

So you see, even though Ash himself isn’t in the film, his spirit very much resides within it, and that’s one of my favorite things about the Evil Dead remake. By infusing aspects of the character into the brand new cast of characters, the remake distances itself from comparison to the original, while at the same time paying proper tribute to it. And that’s pretty cool.

Of course, the real Ash does indeed stand up after the end credits, as Bruce Campbell pops up and spews one of his most iconic lines. It’s but the icing on what is one hell of a tasty cake. And by tasty, I mean really, really, really, really, REALLY gory. What more could you want, from an Evil Dead film?

Evil Dead 2013 is, in so many words, pure fan service.

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.
  • @SBofSelfAbuse

    This was way too long for Twitter, so…

    These are all valid points, and I can totally see why people like it, but the overall feel of the movie just didn’t arouse much enjoyment for me. To me it felt very Platinum Dunesy, and their remakes tend to have the same kind of effect on me. I know you’re a fan of both the TCM and Friday remakes. I like both of those better than the ED remake, but neither evoke much enjoyment from me. They have their moments for sure, but they just don’t capture the magic of the earlier films in my opinion. Maybe I’m stuck in the 80s (at least for ED and F13), but overall, they just don’t do it for me.

    I think with F13, a big part of that was the absence of Harry Manfredini, and I’d have to watch it again, but the sound may have played a role in ED too. I love effective sound in movies. It’s one of the most crucial elements for me. Part of it is the overly glossy look, and I get that they’re not going to make them old and shitty looking for new audiences (though I wish they would sometimes), but that doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it.

    I think with the original, Sam Raimi’s passion shows through very brightly. I think with the remake, the trying to please people with winks and nods show through.

    I find the characters in these remakes dull and flat. You could say that about the original ED if you wanted, but I would disagree. I love that blonde guy. I love the over-acting (the “horrible noise” scene comes immediately to mind)….maybe it’s the actors themselves more than the written characters… I just love the down and dirty feel as opposed to the over-produced one. The slick look is great in many movies, but I don’t like it for these particular ones. Just my personal taste.

    I’m sure I’d get a lot of shit for this if people bothered to read my rambling, but I like The Thing remake/prequel better. I would never call it great or say that it comes anywhere close to being as good as the original, but I thought they did a pretty decent job of trying to re-create its look and feel. Not saying all remakes should do that, but I appreciated it in that case. In fact, I liked the Black Christmas remake for the exact opposite reason.

    Before I stop blabbing, I’ll just say that it’s sometime hard to pinpoint why I like or don’t like a movie. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling. When I left the theater after Evil Dead, I just walked out feeling unfulfilled. I just didn’t leave excited about what I’d just seen.

  • This movie was everything I wanted.

    It had the tone of the original, and none of the campiness of Army Of Darkness. It didn’t pull any punches with the violence. CGI was only used to hide the seams on the practical effects. I liked that the intro showed that Ash wasn’t the only person to be attacked by Deadites in the cabin. And the addiction storyline made staying in the cabin plausible, and added extra creepiness by making it clear no one would believe anything Mia had seen, dismissing her fears as withdrawal hallucinations. And while I wish the post-credit sequence had been longer… it was enough.

    I haven’t enjoyed most horror remakes, and I really expected to be disappointed with this one. It was such a pleasant surprise to enjoy it as much as I did.

  • dave

    I’m sorry but the fact that you say you like The Thing prequel (The John Carpenter one isn’t the original by the way) just makes your whole argument ridiculous. And then adding Black Christmas…. Both of these were absolute garbage. The shitty CGI in the Thing was shameful and the movie felt nothing like the original. It also looked nothing like the original because they used no practical effects, just CGI, and really bad CGI at that. I won’t even go into Black Christmas because I can’t think of any redeeming factor in that movie. The reason the first Evil Dead felt “down and dirty” is because of the lack of budget. That’s why the second one looked so much better (even though that budget wasn’t huge either). 80’s movies looked like that also because that’s what horror in the 80s looked like. I mean look at Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th, Prison, The Prowler, Silent Night Deadly Night, etc, etc. Cameras and lighting, etc have come a long way since then and that’s why they look “slick”. The Friday the 13th remake was good in my opinion because it gave reasoning to some of the issues of the originals (like why they can run for ages and he suddenly pops up behind them even though he was way behind, and how he knows where the kids are without wandering the woods all night). 99% of Evil Dead fans loved the remake because it was gory (which doesn’t happen these days) from start to finish as it should be, the slight nods to the originals without going over the top, etc. I’m glad Ash wasn’t in it for the reason mentioned above, Bruce Campbell is Ash, no one could replace him (just like Robert Englund is Freddy, although they replaced him in the remake which was the worst remake of them all). If you’re saying that you like the look and feel of 80s movies, saying you like the Thing prequel and Black Christmas remake shows just the opposite. They are the furthest thing away from feeling like 80s horror.

  • John Squires

    It really is the perfect remake, in terms of delivering exactly what you’d want it to deliver. People criticize it for having dull characters and not a great story, but they look past the fact that the original was also mindless gore – and it wasn’t really until the sequel that Ash became Ash.

    Basically, I went in looking for nonstop brutality, and that’s precisely what I got. So I was very pleased. It was a true Evil Dead film, and I don’t think anyone can say it wasn’t.

  • @SBofSelfAbuse

    Okay. As I noted, I knew I’d get shit for the comment about the The Thing, which is fine. And my feelings about that aren’t so much related to the effects as just the movie in general. I liked the way the story was handled and I felt they got the tone down reasonably well. Like I said, it’s not great, or anywhere close to the original, I just thought it was more entertaining than ED. I don’t hold it up as the pinnacle of remakes. I’m not going to get more into Black Christmas here. I think I shared my thoughts on that on John’s recent post about that movie. I like that for different reasons.

    Also, I’m not really trying to make an “argument”. John said he has a hard time “accepting any fan of the original series not being totally in love with” the Evil Dead remake. As a fan of the original Evil Dead and a non-fan of the remake, I’m just trying to sum up why I think it is that I didn’t like it. I understand the “lack of budget” on the original, which I also like much better than part 2. I don’t think bigger budget means improvement. I also understand that equipment has improved, leading to a “slicker” look. I just think it sometimes takes away a lot from what’s so magical about the originals in the first place. I’m not even saying they shouldn’t have made the movie. I’m just saying I didn’t personally enjoy it. A lot of people really like it, and that’s fantastic. I wish I was one of them.

    I didn’t meant to imply that I think all remakes need to look and feel like they’re from the 80s to be good. But I love 80s horror, and to say that anyone who loved the one from 1981, which has a completely different look and feel than the one from 2013 isn’t quite a fair statement. To the point about non stop gore, I like good practical effects and gore as much as the next guy, but sometimes that’s not all I want from a movie. If it were, I’d probably have liked ED a lot more. I just didn’t get much more than that out of it. And frankly, I don’t remember a whole lot of the gore effects blowing me away in terms of showing me something incredible that I haven’t seen before. They were fine and all, but I’d be hard pressed to even remember most of them two years later.

  • dave

    Each to their own man, thats the good thing about movies.

  • @SBofSelfAbuse

    Absolutely. As far as Evil Dead is concerned, I’m glad it’s managed to lead to a continuation of the franchise and the show. Still looking forward to checking that out. Also with TCM and Friday, I’m just happy that Jason and Leatherface continue on. I wouldn’t want a world where they didn’t.