Sam Raimi Says ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ Was Originally Going To Be a New ‘Evil Dead’ Movie
For decades, Evil Dead lovers have begged, pleaded, and pestered director Sam Raimi and star Bruce Campbell for another movie. None of the three films were huge box office smashes, and none were critically acclaimed in their initial release. But on home video and cable they methodically built one of the most passionate and loyal fanbases in all of horror moviedom. And that fanbase wanted more.
Video games and comic books didn’t satisfy their zombie-like hunger. Neither did a 2013 Evil Dead remake that more than delivered in the gore department but lacked in the areas of Bruce Campbell acting like a macho jerk and/or a dope. They wanted more Ash.
This month, some 23 years after Army of Darkness opened in theaters, Raimi and Campbell are finally giving fans a new Evil Dead that continues the old storyline. But now, in a twist, it’s not a movie; it’s a TV show — Ash Vs. Evil Dead, which debuts on Starz this Halloween. Raimi developed the series with his brother Ivan and also directed the pilot episode, which sees Ash thrown back into a war with unholy evil.
As part of the promotional tour for the show, the crew and cast — which also includes Jill Marie Jones, Ray Santiago, Dana DeLorenzo, and Xena: Warrior Princess herself, Lucy Lawless — are hosting a bunch of screenings of the pilot. Earlier today, I had the pleasure of moderating the Q&A after one of those screenings, where Raimi revealed a real cool tidbit: Ash Vs. Evil Dead originally started life as Evil Dead 4. And the original storyline for Evil Dead 4 would have been really ambitious.
The story came in response to a question about the alternate (technically original) ending to Army of Darkness. Raimi initially planned to end the movie with Ash, who’d been tossed through time back to the Middle Ages, messing up his return trip to the present. A wizard provides him with a sleeping potion that will allow him to hibernate his way back to 1992. In the original ending, Ash messes up the dosage, sleeps too long, and wakes instead in a post-apocalyptic future.
That ending played on the film internationally, but Army of Darkness’ American distributor, Universal, hated the downbeat conclusion and demanded a happier alternative. Here’s what Raimi and his team came up with:
Like Ash taking his potion, that brings us back to the present. An audience member asked Raimi if they'd ever considered using the darker original ending from Army of Darkness as the jumping-off point for the new show. He replied — and I am paraphrasing here — that before Ash vs. Evil Dead fell into place, he and his brother Ivan were working on a script for a fourth Evil Dead movie. And at that point, their bold plan was to actually make a movie starring two Ashes, one from each of Army of Darkness’ endings. In other words, this Evil Dead 4 would have continued Ash’s journey along both possible timelines in two parallel stories: Present Ash in one, future Ash in the other.
It was a cool idea — at least I think it’s a cool idea — but the Raimis ultimately felt it would have gotten too confusing and convoluted. So they decided to just focus on present-day Ash from the theatrical ending, and eventually Evil Dead 4 morphed into Ash Vs. Evil Dead. And it’s great that we got that, but man; what a tantalizing what-if. An Evil Dead 4 featuring two different Ashes in two different time periods? Sounds pretty incredible.
But hey; maybe Ash Vs. Evil Dead will be a big hit and run for years and years on Starz. This could be the perfect idea for a future season. Campbell and company could take a trip into a dark alternate future. Who knows what they could find there.