Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thoughts on Ash in Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2

Warning: So many spoilers

There are a bunch of posts about the new Evil Dead movie,which I have not seen yet (and having read some of these reviews I am unsure I want to see) but when I first heard it had absolutely no CGI and a female Ash I had wanted to. I also wanted to see it with The Boy because I get jumpy and need someone to cling to and cower on and he finds it endearing while my other friends make fun of me. There was just one problem, he had never seen the first three.

"I'm pretty sure you don't need to. It's basically taking the concept of the first movie, which is really just a cabin in the woods flick, and trying to do what it failed at. Making it actually scary."

He shook his head, determined, "We can see it, but I wanna see the original ones first."

Fine. So we've been working out way through them and as we watched the first one, I was stunned. Not by the treatment of women, and not even by the actually pretty good gore. I was stunned that I was being given a white male hero who was freaking the fuck out. We see Ash be cute and romantic with his girlfriend, and loving to his sister. We see him do the "wrong" thing when he can't cut up his dead girlfriend's body because it will probably come back to try and kill him because he loves her and can't. We see him actually stop to dig a grave in all this mess to bury her, even. We then see him get the shit beat out of him, we see him powerless, we see him cry, we see him get scared senseless. We are given a hero who is weak and flawed and still heroic and I loved it. I saw the movies for the first time years ago, and I was not as aware of things like tropes then as I am now. I don't remember being shocked by Ash being allowed to be weak and still manly. It seemed... progressive, really.

Then we get Evil Dead 2. The movie where they realized how silly this series could be and no one ever breaks their neck and we see where The Thing from the Adam's family came from. Evil Dead 2 is a fun movie, and it quickly recaps the events of the last movie in the intro (although it cuts it down to just Ash and his girlfriend, his girlfriend dies, and he can't chop her up still) before getting on with the ancient evils and such.

The Evil Dead 2 is a fun movie and I have pages of snarky notes* (which were helped by The Boy, Will, and another friend) but the thing that really impressed me about Evil Dead (Ash's character) was just totally mutilated. In the second movie we see him getting possessed, and when the new female lead starts attacking him with an axe, he snaps out of it. Shockingly, she isn't convinced and keeps trying to axe him (I'm on her side here). Ash's response is to grab her, shake her, and scream a bit. Because that worked before. For some reason it does work, which I think is kinda BS. We see the often pants-shittingly scared Ash from the first movie become a one-line spitting bad-ass action hero. His character is still fun, and since Evil Dead 2 is self aware of how absurd it is not the same old same old (dude has a god damned chain saw arm, after all). Still, as much fun as Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness' Ash are, I was sad to see Ash from Evil Dead 1 get replaced by him. I felt he was a much more unique and interesting character.

When they re-made the movie and I heard of a female Ash, I admittedly thought of the more iconic Ash in the later movies, but the remake is trying to be the first movie only. Which means we have taken a very progressive character (pants shittingly scared man) and swapped that over to a woman. The pants shittingly scared woman isn't nearly as interesting. Mostly because women are often expected (or at least certainly allowed) to be scared and irrational on screen while men rarely are and that was what made Ash so interesting to me to start with (there's a lot more to be said but I have yet to actually see the movie myself and that would be ALL the spoilers) however if they were to remake the whole trilogy and have female Ash swap into the more over the top character that we see in the later Evil Dead movies, we'd loop around to progressive and interesting character again.

*Enjoy some of my notes:

"Did he just have a stroke or an orgasm?"

"Horror rides a vespa."

"He needs sunshine to protect him. Why is he driving into the dark forest?" "Because he's being chased by a shakey camera"

"They had sharpies 4000 years ago?"

"Such welcoming music! It's like faeries are playing harps! Made of human hair."

(On the naked zombie) "Worst wetdream ever."

"Dude, you're safe. She's stop motion."

"Wait, which part of the chair is the structurally important mouth?" (This is an on-going joke with my Call of Cthulhu group when discussing how to kill the monsters)

"Did Bruce Chinbell just grope a ghost?"

"So, there's two of him now. Think he'll make out with himself?"

"So he has a zombie demon hand. That's like The Stranger, but better."

"Oh, so that's where The Thing came from" "Go home Thing, you're drunk."

"I think this movie is really about man VS self." "Really? I think it's man vs house."

"I'm just saying, being out of frame does not make you invisible."

"Oh, sure, hit the disabled guy with both your hands."

"Does it still count as a unibrow if it's half blood?"

"If I take my glasses off, the camera work gets better."

"Are all trees into bondage or just evil demon trees? I think this has some negative implications about bondage."


"You take the thing you just used to stab a guy, and then you stab another guy!" "It gets easier after the first one."

"She screams like she forgot to scream."

"See? Even as a zombie Ash is sensitive."

"Car=Smashed. Ankles=Fine."

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