If anyone anywhere ever had any doubts about whether or not Bruce Campbell was born to play Ash, all they need to do is sit down and watch Ash vs Evil Dead. It’s rare for an actor to really get to revisit a character they created decades earlier and update them for a modern audience. Of course, in this case, “updating” really just means playing arrogant, sexist, and just smart enough to get himself into trouble. And in “Bait” he gets to play all of that and more.
After Sam Raimi himself directed the pilot, the second episode recruited the extremely underrated contemporary horror director Michael J. Bassett to run things behind the camera. I’ve been singing Bassett’s praises for years, and even though Silent Hill 2 wasn’t all that, he still did a great job with Solomon Kane (up until the CGI ending) and his feature-length premiere Deathwatch (a supernatural horror film set in the trenches of WWI). He commits entirely to the splatterstick mentality that is necessary with this material and we are treated with two of the bloodiest, nastiest, most hilariously over-the-top Deadite kills you’re going to see on TV.
The episodes are set to run a half-hour each, which seems odd to me. I’m just not used to watching something that’s only 30 minutes and not a sitcom. And yet the pacing on this show is damned near perfect. The runtime is filled with action, comedy, horror, and more gore than you can shake a stick at, all while moving the plot forward at breakneck speed. We even get character development thrown in as an added bonus as Mimi Rogers guest stars as Kelly’s (Dana DeLorenzo) recently deceased (or maybe not) mom.
Okay, I’ll not keep you in suspense. She’s deceased. And back using Kelly as bait to get her ghastly claws on El Jefe himself.
Rogers is delightful, playing the mystery with just the right amount of conviction to keep viewers guessing right up until Ash punches her in the face at dinner (in a laugh-out-loud moment). And then, according to the behind-the-scenes short that followed the episode, she did a lot of her own stunts in full Deadite make-up before being chainsawed back to death in another gorefest that had me giggling like a schoolgirl.
A demented and somewhat frightening schoolgirl.
By the end of the episode, Kelly is fully on-board the Ash train, and Pablo (Ray Santiago) has, if nothing else, gotten himself one step closer to her affections. Even if he had to lie to Ash to do so.
We didn’t see any Lucy Lawless this week, but Officer Fisher (Jill Marie Jones) is hot on Ash’s trail, discovering the business card for the occult bookstore where Ash intends to have the Necronomicon translated. Of course, she’s still on the outs with the department (killing your partner and telling stories about demons will do that to a person), so the investigation is on the down low, but next week promises to begin bringing our storylines together in a much more meaningful way.
And Lucy Lawless is definitely back and kicking ass.
As Lucy Lawless tends to do.