With three movies and a quasi-remake/sequel that is officially part of Evil Dead lore, there is a lot of existing material to pull from in creating Ash Vs. Evil Dead for TV. And while there will be more than enough obvious references and homages to the original trilogy resting on the surface throughout this 10-episode run, there are also plenty of Easter Eggs hidden deep within the show itself. If you're a huge fan of Ashley Williams and his fight against this all-consuming force of darkness, you'll notice some of these treasures right away. Some are more obscure. And a lot of them are layered on top of each other in scenes that require a quick eye and a fast pause button.
In Ash Vs. Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell reprises his role as Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons -personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its "Evil" grip. The first season will span 10 episodes, and a second season has already been announced.
The cast is led by Bruce Campbell in the role of Ash Williams, Lucy Lawless as Ruby a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash's loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner.
Starz announced a marathon of all the Evil Dead movies this past Friday, October 30, which was hosted by Bruce Campbell. The marathon started at 8 PM ET with 1981's The Evil Dead at 8:00pm ET/PT, followed by 1987's Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn at 9:30 PM ET and concluding with 1991's Army Of Darkness at 10:55 PM ET. The marathon also featured a new sneak peek at the series. Fans were encouraged to join the social media conversations throughout the night using #EvilDeadMarathon and other scene-specific hashtags that will appear within each movie. This was a great opportunity for everyone to relive the original movies, and then be able to discover some of the Easter Eggs that are hidden in the new series. Of which there will be plenty. About all the goodies left for enterprising fans to find, Bruce Campbell had this to say in an earlier interview with EW.
"You just have got to pretty much look closely on your high-definition television set. There's a lot of stuff in Ash's trailer that is similar to what we had in the past movies. There's references to things like Michigan State University and Faygo Redpop! The art department really went crazy making it as authentic as possible. I remember Sam and I walking through it and we were just blown away. So for the intense fan there's a lot for them to look at. We're also going to revisit - I have to be careful how I say this - but we're going to revisit some things that are familiar, and the recreations are amazing."
Way back in 2012, we were allowed to visit the set of the 2013 Evil Dead remake, and as we were shown through the woods and the cabin, the set decorators pointed out that some artifacts from the first two movies had been preserved and placed back into this sorta-sequel. If you see the piano or the wall clock while watching, know those are the original props that appeared in The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. If you look close enough, you'll be able to spot some of those exact same items in various scenes throughout Ash Vs. Evil Dead.
So far, we've only gotten an advanced look at episode 1, titled El Jefe. And held within it's tight 40 minute runtime are quite a few obscure and not easily noticeable Easter Eggs that will likely take you a second or third viewing to spot. But some are going to pop right out at you. We'll have to wait for a future episode before Michigan's favorite Faygo Redpop makes it's iconic appearance. Though, right out of the gate, we get to see Ashley sucking on a Hi-C juice box, getting hyper and rehydrating before he heads out to a night on the town drinking at the local Woodsman Tavern. The Boppin' Strawberry box art looks like blood splatter, and you'll notice that motif running through the duration of this initial episode. You may also marvel at how much it makes Ash seem very childish. Which he is. First, watch Ash Vs. Evil Dead. Then come back for these 8 Easter Eggs you probably missed!
1 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88
The classic returns! This is the easy one to spot. The 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 was the car driven by Ash in both 1981's The Evil Dead and 1987's Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. It was turned into a War Wagon for Army Of Darkness, and was even seen in the Evil Dead reboot in 2013. But more than that, this is the quintessential Sam Raimi Easter Egg. It has appeared in every single movie he has ever directed. Even the period fantasy Oz: The Great and Powerful. Though, you'll have to get a magnifying glass out to find it in that movie. While this is an easy Easter Egg to spot, as the car is back up and running, serving as Ashley's main mode of transportation, what you may not have noticed is that the address for Books from Beyond is 1973 Olds Road, Berkley, Michigan. Books from Beyond is going to play a key roll in the future of the series. And we'll likely get to meet the owner of the shop Lionel Hawkins at a later date.
2 The Axe and The Shovel
The iconic chainsaw hand isn't the only weapon returning in Ash's fight against the darkness. First up, we get to see the shovel that Ash used to chop off Linda, his girlfriend's head in the original The Evil Dead. The same shovel he uses to bury her. It makes a return here in a scene that finds Williams being attacked by a demonic doll named Lil Lori, a nod to the much hated Lori Grimes from The Walking Dead. Once Ash finally breaks free of this tiny monster, his new sidekick Pablo steps in, bringing the head of the shovel down on the poor dolly, splattering her like an insect, which sprays blood everywhere. He then swings the shovel over his shoulder in an ode to Ash's iconic, cocky stance. Later in the episode, we see the original Axe that Ash used to dismembered the possessed Ed in Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn. It hangs on the wall in his Airstream. As a Deadite breaks through the window and grabs his other sidekick, Kelly, by the throat, he throws the axe in a brave act of heroism, and it chops the demon's hand off. Which is off course in homage to Ash losing his hand in Evil Dead 2.
3 Michigan State Alma Mater
Though Ash Vs. Evil Dead is being shot in New Zealand, the story is set in Michigan. Perhaps it's been a while since you last saw the original Evil Dead. But in that movie, we learn that Ashley Williams actually went to college at Michigan State University. He arrives at the lost cabin in the woods with four other alumni. Did he graduate? We're not sure, but perhaps that will come up further along in the series. In the first episode, we see that he still cares about his Alma Mater. If you look closely, you'll see a Michigan State shirt in Ash's Airstream. And when he opens the foot locker, where he keeps the Book of the Dead hidden behind old 8 tracks and copys of Club Broad magazine, there is a Michigan State baseball cap. The Fish Market in Erie, Michigan also gets a shout out in the form of a T-shirt hanging outside of Ash's neighbor's house. And police detective Amanda Fisher goes to grab a quick bite outside of Blue Lake Diner, another fine establishment in the real area of Michigan. Director Sam Raimi even attended Michigan State before dropping out to make the original Evil Dead.
4 The Cabin in the Woods
The first two Evil Dead movies take place in a secluded cabin in the woods. And the third film took place during medieval times. Ash Vs. Evil Dead is the first time that we really get to see Ash interact with the outside, modern world. But the idea and concept of the Cabin has not been abandoned. In fact, it is represented twice. Once during the opening act, when Ashley visits the local Woodsman bar. The establishment is very reminiscent of the original cabin, and serves as a visual representation. And if you look closely in the background, you will see the axe iconography all throughout the layout of this set. And then, in the bathroom, there is a very cool saw blade lamp. The very next location we see in the show is the home of Ash's former lover. It has been leveled by Deadite activity. Police detective Amanda Fisher arrives to investigate, though we're not sure why. Before they enter the house, we get Sam Raimi's iconic tracking shot through the woods, which is seen in all four of the previous movies. And it enters this house much like it enters the cabin in the woods. Once inside, if you look closely, you'll see a lot of original props from the cabin itself, including the rocking chair that Ash sits in to guard the door, and a lot of the antlers hanging on the wall. Between the Woodsman Tavern and this nondescript house, its almost as if we haven't left the cabin at all.
5 Book of the Dead Bloodsplatter
Here's a quick blink and you'll miss it Easter Egg that is more subliminal than anything else. After having been attacked by a Deadite, Fisher's partner becomes possessed. He goes to attack Amanda, but she is quick on the draw, and blows his brains out. Its a spectacular explosion of bright red blood. Slow it down frame by frame, and you'll see that the CGI viscera actually forms the shape of the face seen on the cover of the Book of the Dead. Otherwise known as the Necronomicon. Interesting tidbit. While the remake takes place in the same universe as Ash Vs. Evil Dead, it had a decidedly different look. The new Starz series brings back the original book, and its incantations. The book plays such a key role in the series, though, pointing that out shouldn't really be considered an Easter Egg.
6 The Yellow Shirt Antler Kill
As we pointed out, the house that Fisher and her partner enter in the second act of the pilot has a very similar decor as the cabin in the woods. But that's not all. Fisher's partner is wearing the exact same yellow shirt as Annie in Evil Dead 2. Even creepier. If you look at some of the press photos, she is seen in that shirt standing underneath the same Antlers that Fisher's partner is thrown into, thus killing him. And, he is thrown in the exact same manner as Annie is, when she is confronted by the possessed Ash in Dead by Dawn. The home investigation is a nice little homage to that second sequel. And it's as though Sam Raimi is purposely revisiting both movies with the first two acts of his pilot. The Woodsman Tavern represents Evil Dead 1. And the home in the middle of nowhere is the visual representation of Dead by Dawn. Pretty neat, right?
7 The Three Stooges
Sam Raimi is a huge fan of The Three Stooges. And has paid homage to them in his previous Evil Dead movies. In the past, he has pulled scenes directly from the old black and white shorts, giving them a horror twist. He does that again here, with one of the pilot's best moments. As we mentioned earlier, Ash is possessed by a demonic doll named Lil Lori. The horrifying thing attacks Ashley's face, biting his nose. To get her off, in a direct ode to The Three Stooges, he slams his face with several flower pots over and over again. It's a brilliant bit of physical comedy from star Bruce Campbell, and recalls some of the funnier 'splatstick' schtick from the second movie. This single scene certainly makes this all feel like an honest to god follow-up to what has come before it.
8 End Credits Song
What is that catchy end credits song? It sounds like something from a 70s kids show. Rock enthusiasts from that era will know it well. It is The Amboy Dukes 'Journey to the Center of the Mind'. And it's also the name of a famous TV trope that is often used. A relative to the "Fantastic Voyage" Plot, this trope happens when, instead of traveling into another character's physical body via Applied Phlebotinum, they enter their mind. The problem this is supposed to solve can range from recurring nightmares to memory loss to psychological disorders, and even the odd Convenient Coma. Sometimes psychological aspects of the character can manifested as physical beings, as seen in the show Herman's Head. Since it lays bare all the innermost thoughts and feelings of a character, it can be used as an extreme case of the Big Ego, Hidden Depths or In Another Man's Shoes. Is Sam Raimi using this song to hint that everything we're watching is actually taking place in Ash's mind? Is this a dream he's having after he took that sleeping potion in the alternate ending of Army Of Darkness? What exactly are we supposed to take from this? Its a clever way to end the show, and has a lot of students of TV and subliminal idealism asking big, deep questions. It certainly answers the question about those two alternate Army Of Darkness endings in a clever way. Perhaps, Sam Raimi just thought it was a catchy way to end the episode. But we all know he's smarter than that
Raimi directed the first episode of Ash Vs. Evil Dead that he wrote with Ivan Raimi (Darkman, Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell), and Tom Specially ("Chuck," "Reaper," "Desperate Housewives"). Raimi also serves as executive producer, with Rob Tapert (Evil Dead, "Spartacus," Xena: Warrior Princess") and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, "Burn Notice") along with Craig DiGregorio ("Workaholics," "Chuck") who serves as executive producer/showrunner. Ivan Raimi serves as co-executive producer and Aaron Lam ("Spartacus") and Chloe Smith ("Spartacus") serve as producers. Take a look at the first four minutes of Ash Vs. Evil Dead below.