There’s a lot of ballyhoo about Evil Dead recently, specifically because of the remake. A common comment made in regard to it is that Ash IS Evil Dead, and that an Evil Dead film without him, would be a bad thing. Technically, they are correct. It’s impossible to imagine the Evil Dead trilogy without Ash in tow, spitting wisecracks, blasting away deadites with his boomstick, and let’s not forget that amazing chainsaw hand. While the remake doesn’t feature Ash, in a way it would be disrespectful to try to have him in the film in the first place. Unlike the film itself, which can exist outside of Ash, (Evil Dead 1 is a prime example of a movie that doesn’t really “have” Ash in it), Ash cannot exist outside of Bruce Campbell.
Bruce Campbell of course, is the long-established B-Movie icon who plays Ash, and the thought of anyone attempting to play the Ash we all know and love truly is sacrilegious. He’s a character so firmly entrenched in the natural charisma and delivery by Bruce Campbell, that fans often have a hard time differentiating the two. So much so that Campbell often signed his own name as “Bruce ‘Don’t-Call-Me-Ash’ Campbell” on a printing of the Army Of Darkness extended cut DVD. It’s so prevalent in fact that it became the entire premise behind a full feature-length film called My Name Is Bruce, where he plays a fictionalized version of himself forced to battle undead horrors by a rabid Evil Dead fan. For horror fans they’re practically one and the same, but it’s important to recognize what makes Ash such a great character.
Ash is a great character because he represents the everyman, pansy schlub who tags along with his friends, who overcomes incredible odds to become a fully fledged badass. I truly think a lot of fans forget just how much a useless dork he was in the original Evil Dead film, only to mature and develop into what we all secretly wish to be if undead horror were to ever arise around us all. We’ve all had our fantasies of surviving in a zombie apocalypse, and seeing Ash turn from zero to hero is wish-fulfillment to the 9th degree. In Evil Dead 2 we see Ash turn from the pansy last survivor of the first Evil Dead, into a chainsaw wielding, shotgun toting, one-liner quipping badass. This is the movie that really introduces us to the Ash we all know and love. It’d seem that losing his hand really inspired him to man up and tackle the supernatural forces around him dead on.
Throughout Evil Dead 2 Ash is a guy who is put through possibly the worst imaginable day ever, including not only losing his girlfriend, but as I previously mentioned, his own hand. That really seemed to be the catalyst for change that he needed, and his change in attitude and demeanor is perfectly verbalized the moment he slaps on that chainsaw to his wrist and says possibly the most famous one word line in cinematic history, aside from Rosebud:
That’s precisely the moment that our favorite character is born, as the film progresses we’d seem him shoot, punch and saw his way through a bevy of Deadites, only to fall victim to a Kandarian incantation meant to spirit away all the evil forces in that forest. All the way back to medieval times, where he’d end up going full steam into the amazing character we all know and love, whilst regaining some of his selfish, cowardly, but ultimately humanizing traits from the first Evil Dead. It’s in Army Of Darkness where we get to see Ash not only as a Deadite slaying mofo, but as a man who’s desperate just to get back home, and end this whole madness that started two movies ago in a cabin in the woods. It’s here that he literally battles himself to gain control of his own demons. He also takes some time to unite the warring peoples in medieval times, teaches them all how to fight evil skeleton monsters in siege warfare, and even has time to bed a sexy lady on the side.
In the end, what separates Ash from other one-liner spouting heroes, is that he’s relatable. We’ve all had those moments like in Evil Dead 1, where we feel overshadowed by our friends with more gregarious personalities, and end up all alone because of it. In Ash’s case he was the last one to survive of it. In Evil Dead 2, you can relate to the prospect of a dude having a horrendously awful day, who sucks it up and takes it head on. In Army Of Darkness, we all can understand the plight of a dude stuck in a strange land and time, who just wants to be done with all these monsters and madness, and just go home. Sometimes though, a character has a certain appeal simply because the guy playing him is so naturally charismatic and charming, that there’s no way you can hate him despite any or all of the stupid/selfish/dumb decisions he makes. Especially depending on what ending of Army Of Darkness you watch. Personally I prefer the one in S-Mart, where we see Ash dispatch another Deadite in a supermarket, and get the hot girl he just met right then and there.
If that scene in and of itself doesn’t remind and/or convince you of why Ash is an amazing character, I don’t think anything will. The dude is quite simply, groovy.
Stay tuned tomorrow night at 12:01 when we unveil the #1 character in our Countdown to Halloween! You can check out the rest of the Countdown HERE.