The peaceful confines of Comic-Con International were temporarily disrupted when Starz’s shared the first look at the eagerly anticipated “Ash vs. Evil Dead.” Showrunner and executive producer Craig DiGregorio, co-creator and executive producer Ivan Raimi, co-creator, executive producer and director of the “Evil Dead” trilogy Sam Raimi, actor Lucy Lawless and Ash himselfm Bruce Campbell, led a raucous panel moderated by Scott Aukerman. The atmosphere was electric, as fans were treated to the first look into the madness, comedy and gore that arrives on Starz this Halloween.
The panel began with the debut of the series’ first trailer. Greeted with loud applause and cheers, it has the right mix of laughs and blood that fans of the franchise expect. “We always come to Comic-Con with other projects but it’s the fans who say, ‘Screw that, where’s ‘Evil Dead?'” Sam Raimi exclaimed once the appluase died down. Campbell agreed, adding, “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your incessant hounding about this goddamn movie.”
Aukerman asked why the return of Ash will be a TV series rather than a new film, to which Sam Raimi answered, “My brother Ivan and I were writing a movie, and it got really big and we wanted to spend more time with Ash than we were able to in the picture. [With ten half-hour episodes], we really can delve into the character and spend more time with Bruce.”
Aukerman mentioned that there are some fears regarding the show’s tone because of the move to TV, to which Sam Raimi responded, “What’s great about Starz is that they recognized just what the fans want to see, and they didn’t want us to teenage it. They wanted to go to town with the gore and push it.” Campbell agreed, adding, “The first two ‘Evil Dead’ movies had no rating whatsoever. The function of this is that we can do the same on Starz, and give you the carnage and mayhem you truly deserve.”
Lawless commented that she knew Starz liked to push the envelope because of her time on “Spartacus,” a show that did not flinch away from showing sex and gore. Asked if there will be any Roman orgies in “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” Campbell replied, “Every chance we get.”
“It picks up thirty years after we first saw Ash,” Sam Raimi said of the show’s basic premise. “It’s in the present day. Ash has spent his time being Ash, the lovable asshole. He has spent his time womanizing and drinking in a trailer park. What happens early on is that, in very Ash-like fashion, he releases evil. But now, he will have a team of monster fighters with him.”
“In his prime, he had trouble saving the world,” Campbell said. “Now, thirty years later, he has to save the world again. We can’t just have him in a cabin again breaking stuff over his head. Part of the fun of this show is seeing him talk and react with other humans… We’re not portraying him as the same sort of guy. He might be wearing dentures; he might have a box of Depends in his trunk.”
“You got the boomstick — it’s mandatory,” Campbell said, andsweting a question about the essentials of the show. “He still is missing a hand, so he has to have a chainsaw. He’s still the only hero that will trash talk a demon, and then blow its head off and trash talk it again.”
Asked about her mysterious new character Ruby Knowby, Lawless implied that she’s will be connected to “Evil Dead” character Professor Knowby.
The next question dealt with Raimi’s style of directing the “Evil Dead” films, such as the tracking shots that show a monster’s point of view, and whether that same approach will be used on the show. “In the original films, we were trying to present the supernatural by presenting monsters we couldn’t afford. It turned out to be more frightening. In the third film, Bruce’s character became the core. The new series will be a combination of the two. On a TV schedule, we can present Bruce as we always wanted to.”
Raimi, who directed the show’s pilot, promised that if the series gets a second season, he will direct more episodes, saying that if fans get behind the show, it will run for as long as there is support. “This is not a hobby for us,” Campbell stated. “This is hard work and passion.”
Asked if the series lead to more films, Sam Raimi replied that he’s been developing a complex plan. “We have reached out to Fede Alvarez, who directed the wonderful ‘Evil Dead’ remake, to possibly work out a way we combine everything.” Raimi added that he would love to see Ash team with the remake’s protagonist, Mia.
The first fan question dealt with whether the show will utilize Ray Harryhausen-style stop motion animation like the original “Evil Dead.” “We have one or two stop motion shots, not claymation,” Sam Raimi replied. “The Harryhausen style takes more of a film budget, but we are doing all practical effects.” Campbell talked about a pressurized beer keg that sprays blood to replicate chainsaw induced arterial blood spray, and something he called a “blood mortar,” while Lawless closed out the presentation with the revelation that her favorite effect involved “the pus rig.”
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