I was more than a little bit skeptical when Stan Against Evil premiered last year on IFC. From the commercials, it looked like an Ash vs. Evil Dead knock-off trying to capitalize on the fanbase and success of the bigger budget and, arguably more original series. Bored out of my wits over the weekend, however, and in the wake of a Netflix purge of some of my favorite shows (including Scrubs), I decided to get my John C. McGinley fix by binge watching the first season on Amazon. What I expected was a lackluster outing full of one-liners and horror stereotypes with contrived plots and wooden characters all set against green screen generated monsters and backdrops. I’m happy to report I was completely wrong. Yes, some of the effects are total CGI (as is to be expected) and the show itself does have a cheap B movie feel to it but this only adds to the charm. The best part of it all (other than John C. McGinley kicking monster ass) though are the practical effects for the monsters and makeup. Too much television and film is relying on green screen and CGI for every conceivable effect. From complex creatures and transformations to things as simple as a spurt of blood or a muzzle flash from a gun barrel, if they can’t splice it in during post production, they don’t want to bother with it. Look at the creatures and effects in almost every horror movie released in theaters over the last ten years or any of the monsters on network television shows. Unless they can quickly airbrush something over an actor’s face they’re unwilling to try and create anything real. They rely on the cost-effective and woefully inartistic computer renderings of giant monsters and snarling muzzles while holding a tennis ball in front of an actress with the word “dragon” Sharpied over it. It creates a noticeable difference in how a performer reacts on screen or the way a director frames a shot. Stan Against Evil doesn’t suffer from this problem, however. Yes, they still use more than a little CGI over simple things (like some blood spray) but the effects are largely practical with the CGI used to shore up any shortcomings. In the second episode alone we find Stan and his replacement Evie facing off against Baphomet, referred to repeatedly as The Beast. He’s a seven-foot tall fawn (think a really large, pissed off version of Pan) with giant horns, cloven hooves, and the ability to warp a person’s perception from several yards away to make a person see whatever he wants them to see. The creature is almost 100% makeup and prosthetics which, as we all know, instantly grants it a place in my heart. The characters react exactly the way you’d expect them to react against a man-sized killer goat monster. The best part, though, is that when The Beast -or any monster- dies, it completely explodes in a shower of gore. In another episode, we have a group of succubi draining the life force from the cast in a spectacularly creepy fashion. Their bodies gradually begin to wither and deteriorate while their skin and veins take on a severely marbled tone. While the succubus draining Evie is a more traditional monster in a human disguise, the one attacking Stan’s daughter Denise is in the form of a tiny, adorable piglet named Mergatroyd. Well, tiny and adorable is a stretch as the banishing/break up spell used to destroy the succubus forces him to reveal himself as a giant pig monster complete with prehensile tail and fangs. Again, it’s another fine example of a monster being built around an actor and I loved it…even if you could see the open seam between the head and torso in a couple of frames and stills from the episode. The show is a horror comedy and is rooted firmly in the schlock and cheap jump scares. Every witch, demon, goat monster, spider creature, pig demon, and murderous plant (yeah, a couple of those in the mix) are all done practically and touched up later with CGI and computer rendering where needed to help give them the proper look for the episode. The show isn’t going to win the same sort of acclaim that Ash vs. Evil Dead has but that’s in large part because this is a new story without the 35 years of cult following that has grown into mainstream success. There again, it’s not really in any kind of direct competition either. No more, really, than it would be with shows like Grimm, The Walking Dead, or Supernatural. The look and feel of Stan Against Evil is that of an independent horror movie with a small to moderate budget devoted to script and character/creature design rather than huge salaries and a marketing budget. The second season is scheduled to premiere later in 2017 so do yourself a favor and catch up on season one now. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.