Release Date(s)2018 (August 21, 2018)
Studio(s)Starz/Lionsgate Home Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C+
After three years on the air, Ash vs Evil Dead came to an end with its third season, all but concluding the adventures of Ash Williams and his unwitting battle against the evil Deadites spawned from the Necronomicon, bringing a few friends and enemies along for the ride. Ultimately, the decision to end the show was a bittersweet one for fans. Not only did it mean that it might be Bruce Campbell’s last time in the role, but also that the new characters that had come to be loved and accepted as a part of the Evil Dead universe were going away as well. However, it’s comforting to know that the show exists at all, and that it’s mostly good, even without Sam Raimi’s hand fully on the wheel.
This time around, Ash is the hero of Elk Grove upon defeating the Deadites, but it isn’t long before someone finds the Necronomicon again and unleashes on the world, not just more Deadites, but the giant demon Kandar as well. Meanwhile, Pablo is still dealing with the effects of being changed by the book while Kelly has been off with one of the Knights of Templar, waiting for the evil to return. Ruby is up to her old tricks again too, getting her hands on the book and attempting to destroy the Dark Ones in order rule over all that is evil. Ash, on the other hand, is busy getting to know the newly-discovered daughter that he never knew he had.
It took me some time to warm up to the idea of revisiting the world of Ash vs Evil Dead, mainly due to how poorly the previous season had ended. It was a major disappointment in a season where every episode was better than the last. So with great reluctance, I pressed on. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, while it didn’t top the previous season, it had a little bit more going for it on a character level. A tug of war of feelings between Pablo and Kelly emerges while Ash is learning a bit more about responsibility, something that he hadn’t had to truly worry about before. It’s good, meaty stuff that I wish they had gone even deeper into. Unfortunately, it’s all for naught based upon the show’s ending.
My biggest nitpick with the show overall is that it didn’t fully embrace any kind of an arc for Ash’s character. While it’s always fun seeing him as a blowhard braggart with a heart of gold, a bit of a softer and more interesting side to him would have been appreciated as well. After all, you can only play one note for so long before it loses its value. The third season seemed to be angling towards that, but it was all but abandoned at the finale with Ash winding up right back where he started, exact same music cue and all. Above all, more good times had in the world of Evil Dead is a-ok with me, and with roughly 16 hours’ worth of it, it’s difficult to complain all that much.
For Lionsgate’s Blu-ray release, you can expect the same great A/V quality as the previous two seasons that were released through Anchor Bay. Shot digitally, it’s dripping with bold crimson and strong fine detail. The color palette becomes more varied from season to season, but natural skin tones remain. Blacks are inky deep with excellent shadow detail, and brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. The use of CGI stands out, but the practical effects are well-shot and look natural, even in high definition. Soundtrack options include English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital, while subtitle options include English SDH, Spanish, and French. The 7.1 track is incredibly immersive and packs a real punch, particularly when it comes to low frequency and ambient effects. Dialogue is always clean and clear, while the score and music selection has plenty of muscle. Speaker to speaker activity is also abundant. Rock solid presentations, overall.
As far as extras, there are audio commentaries on every episode. For Family, there’s an audio commentary with director Mark Beesley, Campbell, and actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill; another for Booth Three with Tapert, Beesley, and Lucy Lawless; another for Apparently Dead with Tapert, directors Diego Meza-Valdes and Andres Meza-Valdes, and Carver-O’Neill; another for Unfinished Business with Carver-O’Neill, Dana DeLorenzo, and Ray Santiago; another for Baby Proof with Jacobson, stunt coordinator Stuart Thorp, DeLorenzo, and Santiago; another for Tales from the Rift with Tapert, visual effects supervisor Tim Capper, and DeLorenzo, Lawless, and Santiago; another for Twist and Shout with Beesley, Bruce Campbell, Carver-O’Neill, and Lawless; another for Rifting Apart with Tapert, Carver-O’Neill, DeLorenzo, and Santiago; and another for Judgment Day and The Mettle of Man with Jacobson, Campbell, and Carver-O’Neill. In addition, there’s a Season Overview, an Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead featurette in 10 parts, and a paper insert containing a Digital Copy code. Sadly, none of the trailers, TV spots, or “next on” episode previews that ran on Starz during the show’s original run have been included. There’s also a lack of outtakes, gag reels, and deleted scenes as well. Still, the cream of the crop here are the commentaries.
Oddly enough, Ash vs Evil Dead is one of those strange franchises that actually benefited from small, half-hour, 10-episode chunks, which, as previously documented, I wasn’t totally on board with at the very beginning. However, it managed to jam pack its time slot with enough good stuff that, ultimately, all mistakes and nitpicks were forgiven. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show double and even triple dipped on home video in the future, but for the now, each season, including this one, offers fans excellent video and sound quality and a decent, if incomplete, set of extras.
– Tim Salmons