All you need to know (and all we can tell you) about Season 2 of Ash Vs Evil Dead
As anyone who knows who read my recent article on Evil Dead and Bruce Campbell, we here at After Movie Diner towers (namely me, Jon Cross) are right aboard the Ash versus Evil Dead train with gusto and verve. Sure is there trepidation? Was season one a bit of a mixed bag? yeah but the faint of heart never won the farmer's good meats in a raffle (or something along those lines). Ultimately there was enough sheer genius and enough authentic Evil Deadery in those first 10 episodes that it got my little, weak, fanboy soul fluttering again like (as Bruce in Bubba Ho-Tep would say) "A pigeon having a heart attack".
If you want to watch the series as it airs or if you want to take a look back at season one, head over to Starz and subscribe today. I get nothing out of saying that except that the more people that subscribe to Starz because of this show, then the more series we get and I want ALL the series possible!
So, with that, we present all that we can, right now, about Season 2 and promise that there is a lot LOT LOT! more to come, ok? So when you want the good shit, come to The After Movie Diner (and tell your friends).
"I'm not drunk enough to know if this is good weird or bad weird." Foreshadowing words uttered by our reluctant hero, Ash Williams, when he returns this fall in the second season of the critically acclaimed "Ash vs Evil Dead," based on the classic Evil Dead film series.
The 10-episode half-hour series picks up in Jacksonville, Florida with Ash and his Deadite-fighting compadres Pablo and Kelly, enjoying retirement after making a truce with Ruby at the end of Season One. But like most things in Ash's life, this retirement is short-lived. The team is summoned back to his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan by an unlikely ally to lead the charge against evil once again!
Campbell says, "Season Two is going to throw some ringer-dingers in there. It's not the same old, same old. We're going to find out that Pablo is more than a typical sidekick, and Kelly is more like Ash than she realizes. There's more to Ruby than she is letting on." Also planned for Season Two is a dive into where Ash came from, why he left and why he stayed away.
"This particular season, Ash is returning to his hometown, where he hasn't been for 30 years," explains Rob Tapert. "One of the great characteristics about Ash is he doesn't grow up. He makes very small, incremental changes and has accepted these two other people into his group of friends. Ash's dream of retiring in Jacksonville and just hanging out in bars on spring break, doing shooters, and playing with his chainsaw to impress girls is ruined by Ruby. She calls him back. She needs his help back in his hometown of Elk Grove, Michigan and she sends a calling card." That calling card is in the form of Deadites.
Campbell says of Season Two, "We find Ash having a pretty darn good time in the amazing city of Jacksonville, Florida. Wearing Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, he's effectively retired. I couldn't tell you why it's his favorite place. He's there because he's just seen postcards and has passed the baton to Ruby in order to save his friends." But Ruby sends a pair of Deadites to Jacksonville and, "Ash has to go home. The Deadites are very clever, very tricky. They're thinking creatures, they're not shufflers. They're like the mafia and go after Ash's family. He was doing just fine in Jacksonville, but now he has to get serious again and go back to his hometown, which is not necessarily a good thing because he has a bit of a reputation in that particular town."
Campbell says, "Ash is a reluctant hero. He doesn't want to go to Elk Grove, but he knows he has to because it's his dumb fault there's evil running wild in the first place. So it's not like a college football hero going back, they have an urban myth about him." That urban myth has left a casualty in its wake: Ash's father, Brock.
"When Ash returns to Elk Grove, only Chet and Linda B. are happy to see him. Everybody else, his father, the whole town, really do not like Ash," says Tapert.
Campbell explains the origin of the urban legend: "Many years ago Ash had an incident at a cabin in the woods and it's been horribly misinterpreted. He's Ashy Slashy, the boomstick butcher with the chainsaw hand."
Bruce Campbell returns as Ash Williams with Lucy Lawless as Ruby, once an enemy, now in need of Ash's help to control evil; Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar, Ash's loyal sidekick who looks up to him like a father figure; Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell, a woman hell-bent on avenging her parents, who were the victims of Deadites; Lee Majors as Brock Williams, Ash's bitter dad left behind to deal with the cabin aftermath; Ted Raimi as Chet Kaminski, Ash's childhood best friend; Michelle Hurd as Linda B., Ash's high school sweetheart who is now married to the local sheriff and former victim of Ash's bullying, played by Stephen Lovatt.
Returning to the small screen this fall, the series is Executive Produced by Sam & Ivan Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell – the original filmmakers – and Craig DiGregorio, who serves as Showrunner.
ASHLEY “ASH” WILLIAMS
Ash returns as the blowhard heroic monster fighter now struggling with the limitations of his middle-aged self. It was over 30 years ago, while vacationing in the woods with friends, he encountered creatures of unspeakable evil. Ash survived the battle, but it cost him his hand and his sense of security. Responsibility and ambition are not part of his limited vocabulary.
PABLO SIMON BOLIVAR
Pablo is Ash’s loyal sidekick struggling to seal with the trauma suffered in the cabin. He recognizes that fate has put Ash in the center of a battle of good vs. evil. Pablo feels that his destiny is to fight alongside Ash. Originally trained to follow in his uncle’s footsteps to become a Brujo, a Honduran shaman, Pablo has left his legacy behind to pursue the American Dream. Pablo is the only one who believes in Ash even when Ash doubts himself.
Santiago says, "Pablo is Ash's main homie, and there's a dynamic of this weird motley crew that have come together to save the world."
"Pablo is, in some ways, Ash's son, in other ways an outsider who has been brought in. He has a good heart and is somewhat innocent," said Tapert.
Campbell recalls, "Pablo is more than just a sidekick. His uncle was a Shaman and he picked up some stuff from him. I think we're going to see Pablo a little more connected to the Necronomicon. Kelly is a survivor and together with Ruby she is much more fearless, much more empowered, and doesn't take any shit."
Kelly was always rebellious but has become hardened and cynical by the cards life has dealt her. Now she only desires payback for what the Deadites have done to those close to her. Unwilling to let go of her rage she won’t let others get too close. With her family destroyed, she turns to Ash and Pablo, the only ones who have ever stood by her. She will not stop until the last evil Deadite is destroyed.
"Kelly is definitely the intelligent one; Ash is the brawn, Pablo is the heart. She's proven she can hold her own, and that she is a badass in her own right. She can make a weapon out of just about anything, but prefers guns," said DeLorenzo about Kelly's transformation this season.
Tapert says, "Kelly is the daughter Ash never had. She's on the run with an old man and perhaps an illegal alien. She is a strong, independent woman and is coming into her own. In the first season, she got to fire a gun and fell in love with the power, so now she's becoming a kind of weapons expert."
"Kelly is fearless," says DeLorenzo. "She's proven she can hold her own and that she's not afraid to get her hands dirty. She has gone full speed with evil, and it has given her a purpose."
A seductive and reclusive figure well steeped in the ancient mythology surrounding the Evil Dead. She currently possesses the Necronomicon but her hopes for her spawn don't go quite as planned. As havoc ensues, she has to rethink the deal she made with Ash as well as acknowledge his part in fighting evil.
"Since Ruby claims she wrote the Necronomicon, Season Two reveals what kind of baddy she used to be and why she doesn't want Ash to get a hold of the book," said Campbell.
Tapert gave some clarity on the mysterious Ruby when he said, "Ruby is the dark one. We find out in the first season, Ruby is the author of the Necronomicon. In Season 2, She has been stripped of some of her powers, and it's going to cause all kinds of problems; she now needs Ash to help her."
Lawless says, "Ruby has gone from buttoned up to busting out. She's over it. Her children have grown into evil spawn and they're totally out of control. She needs Ash's help to put them back in the box, so she's part of their family now. Ruby is looking for peace, and that means getting those wretched children back down to their hell with their hideous father who is like Keith Richards with a bad attitude."
When asked about the alliance of Ruby and Kelly this season, Lucy said, "Ruby and Kelly together are an unbeatable team. The women of 'Ash vs Evil Dead' are strong, powerful, independent women who kick ass!"
A diabolical demon, Baal, is an enemy more powerful than any that Ash and team have encountered. Released from the underworld, he has bigger plans than just destroying Ash. He conjures hysteria to carry out his evil deeds and is Ruby's ex-husband.
Ash’s best friend from High School who never left the party. He’s always willing to help Ash when he’s in a bind especially if the solution includes hitting up a strip club, throwing a rager or breaking and entering.
"Chet is Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High all grown up," says Tapert.
"He's a guy who stays with Ash no matter what happens. He's the guy, on a dare, who would probably eat a worm… He's a little off-center," said Raimi of his character.
"Chet is everyone I grew up with: a little behind the times, frosted hair from the 80's and he thinks that's cool. Thinks he's wired into the town. Driving his Gremlin up and down the streets of Elk Grove, honking at chicks and giving the two-fingered wave. You know if you're really cool, that's how you wave. Chet is that buddy to Ash, and the only buddy of mine I go that far back with is Ted [Raimi], and we got him," Campbell says.
The girl that got away. Ash regrets taking another Linda to the cabin way back when, but then again this Linda would be dead if he hadn’t. She’s married to the Sheriff, but deep down she may still be harboring feelings for her high school sweetheart.
A homecoming would not be complete without running into an old flame, and in pure "Ash vs Evil Dead" fashion, we meet Linda B. – not the ill-fated Linda A., whom Ash took to the cabin in the first Evil Dead movie.
"Linda B. is Ash's high school sweetheart, the one that got away," says Michelle Hurd of what her character represents for Ash. "I think Ash has some sort of twisted obsession, and she cannot resist his charisma. When Ash enters the bar Linda works in, I think she is so surprised and swept up in the memory and the romance of seeing her high school sweetheart, the whole urban legend and his murderous reputation."
Daughter of Linda and the Sheriff. She’s a rebellious 20-something that finds herself in the wrong Delta 88 at the wrong time. Thankfully she finds solace and safety with Pablo until her own father makes her a pawn in his game to take down Ash.
Ash’s surly father. He was once the owner of Elk Grove’s thriving hardware store, but ever since his son was labeled a serial killer his business has tanked. Now he spends his days in his easy chair watching television or enjoying a beer or ten at the Elk Lounge Bar. He is none too pleased to see his son is back in town and makes sure Ash knows it. But deep down he might just love him a little, little, little bit.
Lee Majors really dove into the series. "Before I began work on the second season, I viewed the entire first season. I thought the sets were fantastic and production design and cinematography were outstanding. The actual sets looked totally spooky, as if they had been there 50 years! The crew deserves great applause for bringing them to life," said Majors.
On sharing scenes with Campbell, Majors said, "Playing opposite Bruce Campbell was a blast. We had great chemistry! He's underrated as an actor! Don't know if I got used to him calling me Pop!" The characters find out this season, genetics aren't the only thing they've shared.
Campbell recalls, "He picked up on the humor, but I'm not sure the other parts of the show are really for Lee; the carnage, the mayhem, the talking about boobies… you know. But Lee has the chops, he's a pro and one of those guys that never leaves the set. He even referred to Ash's utility hand as bionic!"
Campbell said, "Ash's father, Brock, is bad, really bad. It was important to me that Brock have some Ash-isms, so that the audience actually knows some of that stuff Ash wasn't making up."
Lines like, "You're filthy and fine" and "I'm through conversatin' it's time for fornicatin'" among others not suitable coming out of Lee Major's mouth was a shock-laugh to both cast and crew during filming. It was television heaven to have a legend be a part of the Evil Dead world.
According to Lee Majors, "Ash vs Evil Dead" is "Great entertainment. Great fun. The show looks like a million bucks!" Or maybe six million?
A former high school Hall Monitor turned town Sheriff. He claims to love the law, but really he uses his badge to hide his insecurities and with Ash back in town, he’s got a lot of them. He’s married to Ash’s former flame, Linda B. When a town on the brink of Armageddon pushes her into the arms of his biggest nemesis, the Sheriff turns to the dark side for help to get rid of Ash once and for all.
Even an anti-hero needs an antagonist, and the high school sweetheart reunion is not all roses and chocolates because Linda B. is married to the local sheriff and former bully victim of Ash and Chet, Thomas Emery.
"Ash, Thomas, Linda, and Chet all went to high school together. Thomas was kind of the nerd in school and bullied by Ash and Chet. Once he graduated, he went right into law enforcement. Thomas still holds a grudge and when Ash returns, all he wants to do is take him down a few notches," Hurd says.
Creating Michigan in New Zealand
Principal photography for "Ash vs Evil Dead" was shot in Auckland, New Zealand and marks the return of Season One's Production Designer Nick Bassett. From crematoriums and morgues to rundown houses and outdated sheriff's offices, Bassett and his team of talented artists design the locations where the battles with evil take place.
Bassett says, "The look this season is keeping with the '80s kind of horror aesthetic. It's very atmospheric, moody, and textured. The whole season has a real texture to it and a real dilapidated feeling that all adds to the mood and the atmosphere of the show."
When asked where he got his inspiration, Bassett said, "This season I was lucky enough to get a trip over to Michigan and actually went and checked out the hometown of a lot of the producers. They've talked a lot about Michigan and the spirit of Michigan and what it feels like, and I got to actually go this time. It made a massive help to me really, that was a huge advantage. That set me up really because once I'd seen what Michigan's actually like, then I get to put a little spin on it so it feels authentic."
"Ultimately Ash's childhood home is a time capsule, specifically Ash's bedroom that is kind of little piece of '70s and '80s nostalgia. In many ways it is similar to the trailer, so it's sort of his natural habitat. We kind of get into Ash's history of music. There's some Iggy Pop things there, Alice Cooper and the kind of the classic music that we thought he'd listen to. We assumed he was probably at one point kind of a normal everyday guy, and the cabin — the event at the cabin changed him a lot. So there's some quite typical things there, there's a lot of the Michigan things, there's Faygo posters, a beer can collection. There's a classical instrument that he plays, which people would look out for and think it was slightly out of character now, but once upon a time it probably made sense," said Bassett.
On a larger scale, Bassett and team were tasked with creating Main Street. Complete with storefronts, lamp posts, intersections, and the Elk Lounge where Linda B. works.
Regarding the Elk Lounge, Bassett said, "The Elk Lounge is my favorite set, and it's inspired heavily from an actual bar in Michigan. It's kind of the heart and soul of town, and it's got a lot of history. It's full Americana really."
Campbell said, "Nick took a tour of Michigan, and he went through all these small towns. He liked my little town of Gladwin so much that was some of the basis for our Main Street."
Even a new set this season – the crematorium – harkens back to Michigan. Bassett describes, "The crematorium is little piece of industrial Michigan. It looks probably more like a neglected iron works or an old industrial building. It's not a typical crematorium, I think nothing in our town's kind of typical so it's a gloomy, rusty, dark place with furnaces and dark corners."
To get the design of the sheriff's office just right, Bassett spent some time with Michigan locals. He said, "I met a sheriff, and he showed me around. The outside of the sheriff's station is literally a building I saw there, and it reminded me of a western town, what a sheriff's station might have been in the wild west."
In conclusion, Bassett says, "This season is a real homecoming for Ash. He's arrived at home after 30 years and we really take a lot of time to get the detail of that time, that town right. It needed to feel authentic, it needed to feel like part of where the story began at the cabin. So it's a really big responsibility to actually add to that town and make it feel believable."
Goo, Gore & Prosthetics
Season Two introduces more than Deadites to the evil army. Spawn, meat bodies, and evil body parts also make an appearance.
Says Prosthetics Designer, Main Reactor's Roger Murray, "One of our essential characters in is Baal, and he has the ability to skin people alive, leaving their muscles and sinew and stuff underneath their skin showing." This is called the "meat body."
Murray continues, "We made a full silicon body suit for one of our thin actors, and he comes back and attacks Ash without any skin on. He's a complete visual."
To create this meat suit, Murray and his team took references from, the '70s artist Gunther von Hagens, who specialized in plasticized, skinned bodies with muscles that were actually thickened with a form of epoxy. They took a lot of his imagery and translated it into a full body suit that can actually move with the actor. Stunts are challenging, but possible, and the suit is rigged with blood tubes from the Special Effects team for the true Evil Dead effect.
Ruby's spawn are just as menacing. Shay Lawrence, Prosthetics Supervisor for Season Two says, "The demon spawn are the most labor intense makeup prosthetic that we have to do only because they are actually a transition of full-body makeup. The look of the demon spawn is a dark, slimy, menacing creature. We apply a silicone prosthetic, which is an extension onto what they had as creepy kids on the first season. Then where the spawn makeup is applied and we actually apply this in layers to give them dimensions."
To get the veiny textured effect on the body paint, Lawrence reveals, "We have this amazing product and it's called 'demon goo' that is a slime that we string like cobwebs all over them. And that basically gives them a vein and a texture effect that really brings them to life." This arduous process takes two hours to put on and about that long to take off.
The look of the Deadites is still a homage to the original films. Lawrence says, "We've kind of kept the same original look and original style, but obviously we've reworked it for 2016. To achieve the Deadite look, we use a combination of silicon prosthetics and a three-dimensional paint technique to create the textures and the layers of the character." Their eyes have gotten some help from the VFX department.
Special effects doesn't make the heart that may be ripped from a chest in an episode of "Ash vs Evil Dead," it makes the heart beat and squirt ridiculous amounts of blood all over the cast member holding it.
There is no shortage of new fluids in Season Two with the introduction of new evil characters like Ruby's spawn and an antagonizing internal organ Ash has to deal with. Along with blood, Lucy's character has to deal other liquids in massive quantities at various velocities.
"The war against evil is absolute carnage, and it involves vomit. It involves snot. You've never lived until you've been hit in the face by a snot cannon from one foot away. That was a big day in my life. That was a banner moment," said Lawless of her experience.
"The most thrilling splatter experience I've had this season was getting vomited on by my demon spawn because when they vomit they can just go for three minutes. It's a waterboarding with black, chunky vomit, but don't feel too sorry for me. Tastes like cola!"
Practical effects like explosions, or gunshot squibs and blood cannons are a staple to the Evil Dead franchise, a series that relies heavily on the physical effects and less on digital effects to get their point across. Brendon Durey, Special Effects Supervisor for Season Two says, "I think one of the core things that I feel about practical over [VFX], is empathy. When, people are watching a show like this, you can generally tell when there is a large amount of CGI use within a sequence. People tend to struggle to have the same level of empathy for the plight of the protagonist if they know that they're not necessarily experiencing an explosion or a gun hit near them. Viewers tend to have a real empathy when they know that the actor has actually been splattered in the face and it could have hurt."
Tapert says, "On a very practical level, dealing with the demise of a Deadite is a big event in our world. It's quite complicated because we do not want to rely on CGI, so it becomes a big prosthetic [and special effects] build. Dummies, heads, and different body pieces are built to deliver an old school kind of chopping-off effect. We've done it before, using visual effects to deliver that same thing, but the audience rejects it."
Teamwork is a theme this season with special effects, prosthetics, visual effects, and props all working together to bring the best splat-stick result possible.
"When we kill a Deadite, there are four different departments working in concert who need to design and resolve various aspects of the death in such a way as to meet the scripted vision. Props provides the physical knife going into a Deadite's chest, the Prosthetics and Makeup team would create wounds and visual effects would have an extension on the blade. Special effects would have tubes and rigs running behind the prosthetic to create the blood flowing down the chest. All these tend to come together on the day in the middle of a sequence to simulate the death as it was envisioned in the script," said Durey.
Click on the pictures below to enlarge.
So, there you have it! All the gory details about Season Two, a few surprises but no real spoilers! What more could a deadite like you desire?!
We'll be reviewing the episodes as they come up and reporting any stories etc. on the series from now on, so, please do keep coming back!