Ash vs Evil Dead: Season Two (Blu-ray Review)
Release Date(s)2016 (August 22, 2017)
Studio(s)Starz/Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: B-
After the success of Ash vs Evil Dead’s first season, it was all but a full-blown conclusion that a second season would materialize, and it did in the fall of 2016. As with the previous year, it was the horror event of the season, not only topping its predecessor but surpassing it. The entire cast returned (those who survived anyway), along with a few new faces, but the creativity and imagination of the show kicked into an even higher gear than its loyal followers were anticipating.
Attempting to expand upon the mythology of Ash’s character, we get to see a little bit of what his life was like before the events of The Evil Dead, even paying a visit to his hometown and attempting to reconcile with his estranged father. Nicknamed “Ashy Slashy” by locals, it is believed that he went up to that cabin in the woods with his friends and murdered them all, including his sister. Whilst the plot is underway, things get truly outlandish, including what happens in the infamous episode The Morgue. In terms of over-the-top gore effects, it’s the bee’s knees of the entire series. The Bruce Campbell one-liners and bizarre visuals also make their return, making for a mostly satisfying second outing amidst new settings and characters.
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the most controversial aspect of the second season, which is its finale. In a move that was totally out of character for the series up to this point, the last episode suddenly takes a creative nosedive, the likes of which could potentially kill the show in the long run (which remains to be seen). The reason for this is due to disagreements behind the scenes between the showrunner and the producer, who were in a constant tug of war over which direction the show should take, with the showrunner usually winning out. In the case of the finale, the showrunner lost, despite the nearly unanimous positive response the season was getting. It felt like a betrayal of sorts, or at the very least, an unsatisfying and unfulfilling conclusion to a mostly perfect season. And while the third season is rapidly approaching its October premiere date, the lack of creative freedom that saw most of the show’s second season through is now all but gone. Only time will tell what’s in store for us the next time around.
Thankfully, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the Blu-ray presentation of Ash vs Evil Dead. Shot digitally, it’s dripping with fine crimson and excellent detail. The color palette is slightly more varied than the previous season, but natural skin tones remain. Blacks are inky deep with excellent shadow detail, while brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. The CGI from the previous season is integrated a tad better this time around, using even less of it. Soundtrack options include English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround, and French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Like its predecessor, 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 have plenty of muscle. Speaker to speaker activity is also abundant as it’s a very aggressive soundtrack. A rock solid presentation, overall. Subtitle options include English SDH, Spanish, and French for those who might need them.
As for the extras, there’s more featurette-based material than the previous season, but less audio commentaries. On Disc One, there are audio commentaries on the episodes Home and The Morgue with Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, and Ray Santiago; and another for Last Call with executive producer Rob Tapert, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Also on this disc are a set of short EPK-type featurettes, including a Season 2 First Look; Inside the World of Ash vs Evil Dead, which that takes a look at all 10 episodes separately; Up Your Ash; Women Who Kick Ash; Puppets Are Cute; Dawn of the Spawn; Bringing Henrietta Back; The Delta; How to Kill a Deadite; and a Fatality Mash-Up. On Disc Two, there’s an audio commentary on Trapped Inside with Rob Tapert, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless; another on Home Again with director/co-executive producer Rick Jacobson, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, Lucy Lawless, and Ray Santiago; and for Second Coming, another with Rick Jacobson, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, Dana DeLorenzo, and Lucy Lawless. Again, like the previous season, none of the “next on” episode previews have been included, nor have any trailers, TV spots, outtakes, or deleted scenes.
As I said of Season 1’s Blu-ray release, a more extras-stuffed package sometime down the road is quite likely, but for now, Ash vs Evil Dead: Season Two is definitely one worth running out and picking up. It’s a terrific follow-up that only gets better as it goes along... aside from that pesky final episode, that is.
- Tim Salmons