Hail to the King - A Happy Ending for a Heroic Maniac
The Evil Dead has played a hugely positive role in my life and career and, with news of Ash vs Evil Dead coming to an end, I've wanted to say some things, I just haven't known how. I've seen a lot of people bemoaning the series’ ending and the actor's decision to retire from the role. I've also seen a lot of vague articles quoting Bruce Campbell's comments on both topics but none outright saying the things you'd hope to hear at the end of an era. So let me share with you the one thing I haven't come across yet but should have by now: sincere gratitude and admiration.Ash vs Evil Dead has given us Deadites two things we'd have never dreamed of before: hours of additional gore saturated demon killing mayhem, and a fully realized and completed character and story for Ash. As a writer and storyteller as well as just devoted fan, this is everything I ever hoped to see when the series first aired. Instead of dragging out a litany of contrived plots and nauseating gags that would gradually lose their luster over time, the show told the story it set out to tell and, when it got the axe, wrapped things up in a way that fans could appreciate.
Bruce Campbell, whose career and success is in no small part due to Ash and the VHS culture that revived the Evil Dead for an entire generation, has been nothing short of amazing in his commentary and response to fans. With an amount of humility and graciousness unheard of in the braggadocious characters that have made him a star, he's thanked everyone for giving him the chance to create a fully realized person out of a chainsaw wielding demon slayer.
Joining cultural and cult icons like Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger), Boris Karloff (Frankenstein), and Cassandra Peterson (Elvira), we realize there may be others in the decades to come who might take on the iconic role of Ash but there will only ever be one Bruce Campbell.
If an artist is very lucky they will create something in their life that evokes emotion, inspires imaginations, and suspends reality for the briefest moment. And, if those stars align just right, they may even create something that outlasts the artist; a thing that transcends its confines and becomes a legend. In an age where slasher horror was king and villains haunted our dreams, a character was created who took everything that had terrified us and gave us hope. Suddenly that chainsaw wielding, blood soaked maniac was protecting us from the monsters lurking in the darkened cellars and fog shrouded wilderness.
Thanks, Ash. Thanks, Bruce. Have a drink on us and enjoy the retirement. You've earned it.
Dan Lee is a film critic, editorialist, independent author, and horror culture correspondent from Tennessee. You can also follow him on social media @dotdblog
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