After three seasons and 30 episodes, Ash vs. Evil Dead slaughtered its final Deadite last Sunday. The show may sadly be over, but its many, many gleefully gruesome fight scenes will live on in our hearts and nightmares forever. Here are our 13 all-time favorite amazingly disgusting moments from the Starz series.
Ash (Bruce Campbell) and Pablo (Ray Santiago), along with Ash’s long-lost wife, Candace (Katrina Hobbs), race to Elk Grove’s high school to rescue Brandy (Arielle Carver-O’Neill), the daughter Ash didn’t know he had until this very moment. Unfortunately, evil gets there first and turns Brandy’s best friend into a Deadite. In a demented fight in the school’s music room, Ash gets brained by a trombone, has drumsticks shoved up his nose, and watches as his ex gets decapitated by a rogue cymbal. Revenge comes in the form of a harp, which works as an efficient slicer when applied directly to the demon’s face.
Ash and his long-estranged father, Brock (Lee Majors), have a very contentious reunion when Ash returns to his hometown for the first time in decades. They’ve just started to mend fences when Brock is mowed down by Ash’s beloved Delta, which happens to be possessed at the time. The moment is shocking for many reasons: it obliterates a key character (and a fantastic guest star) super-early in the season; it happens at the exact moment that Brock is about to tell Ash something of utmost importance (fortunately, that cliffhanger’s resolved in season three, when Brock returns as a ghost to finish delivering the message); and it’s nauseatingly horrifying, with a lingering final shot of Brock’s brains splattered all over Elk Grove’s main drag.
At the end of season one, a weary Ash capriciously agrees to give the Necronomicon, and its attendant burden of constantly being chased by Deadites, to the mysterious Ruby (Lucy Lawless). But in order to turn the bound-in-human-flesh book over to a new owner, Ruby explains, Ash will need to deface it, literally. This in itself is a gory process—even the book shrieks in horror—but things get exponentially worse when the bloody, carved-off cover peels off the floor and splats right onto poor Pablo’s face. In a show with tons of body horror, the act of saddling a living, breathing, terrified person with a Necronomicon mask is somehow still an exceptionally repulsive moment—it’s like the facehugger in Alien, except with tons of demonic side effects.
Not every cringe-worthy moment on Ash vs. Evil Dead came courtesy of a supernatural foe. After Ash and company travel back in time, hellbent on preventing Pablo’s untimely death, Ash encounters Professor Knowby, the man who discovered the Necronomicon before the events of the first Evil Dead movie. Turns out the aging academic has a diabolical streak, bringing an unsuspecting young student to the cabin to “assist him,” i.e., be a vessel for the Kandarian demon he’s accidentally unleashed into his poor wife, Henrietta. He’s got a particularly hideous method of keeping the girl close by: a bear trap clamped on her leg. Things get even worse (as they always do) when Ash tries to rescue her and his chainsaw gets tangled in the mechanism. Owwwww!
After switching sides to be a Ghostbeater ally in season two, Ruby reverted to her immortally evil form in season three, thanks to Ash’s adventures in time travel. Her grand plan to unseat Ash from his destiny begins when she uses herself as a vessel to spawn a replacement “Prophesized One,” with a little help from the ol’ Necronomicon. The creature arrives with lightning speed, taking even Ruby by surprise when she goes into “labor” while speeding down a rainy highway. As two very unfortunate hitchhikers soon learn, if you think giving birth to a human baby is a messy affair, just wait until you see all the bodily fluids, danging ribcages, distorted internal organs, and gnashing teeth that come when a demon baby enters the world.
Season two antagonist Baal (or “Bill,” as Ash called him) immediately starts causing trouble the instant he slithers into Elk Grove. Some of the citizens, including the sheriff, fall prey to his mind-control powers; others who are far less fortunate are stripped of their skin so that Baal can take over their bodies. And since this is the realm of Evil Dead we’re talking about, there’s one ornery skinless corpse that won’t stay dead. After Ruby blasts off its head with the boomstick, Ash finishes the job by sawing the still-stumbling body in half, spraying a seemingly endless waterfall of gore over everyone and everything in the process.
When Ash realizes Ruby is out to kill not just his teenage daughter, but the entirety of his “seed,” he hustles to the Elk Grove sperm bank, intent on finding out if he’s got any other kids drifting around the wide world. But he just can’t resist stepping back into his favorite booth to make a fresh deposit. That’s when evil zooms in, possessing not just the hapless lab tech but also the cheesecake centerfold in Ash’s nudie magazine, who launches an attack that’s played as a direct homage to A-ha’s classic video for “Take On Me” (complete with the actual song blasting in the background). Things take a turn for the mega-mega-gross when the brawl upends test tubes galore and sends semen flying through the air like bullets, splattering everything with gallons of sticky, slippery “seed.”
Ash’s ex, Candace, dies in the first episode, but it takes until episode three to get to her funeral. Unfortunately, Elk Grove’s local mortician doesn’t at all understand how the whole Deadite thing works, so he re-attaches the dearly departed’s head to her body. Naturally, she springs back to undead life, yanking Ash inside her coffin for what’s gotta be the Evil Dead series’ most claustrophobic dust-up ever. Making matters so much worse, the chatty corpse is bursting with repugnant sexual innuendos, not to mention gallons of fetid embalming fluid.
Season three introduced an ancient secret society called the Knights of Sumeria, a group sworn to protect humankind and assist the Prophesized One in his fight against evil. After Ash (with a little help from Ghost Brock) realizes there’s an interdimensional rift in the basement of his hardware store, the Knights who’ve tracked him to Elk Grove decide they need to see what’s out there. The first volunteer is yanked into the swirling green void and is spat back after just a few seconds... but that’s all it takes for him to pick up what Ash calls “a seriously demon vibe”—and indeed, the man has become a freaky mega-Deadite with the ability to fuse himself to other people. It doesn’t take long before he’s a two-headed, misshapen monster with boils all over his body, which would be nasty enough if he didn’t also have super-strength and a very bad attitude.
When Ash rolls back into Elk Grove, nobody’s happy to see him, and that goes tenfold for his father, Brock. The turning point in their relationship comes when Brock realizes the young woman he’s about to have a bar-bathroom quickie with (like father, like son) is actually a demon—and Ash appears just in the nick of time to show his dad exactly what kind of heroics he’s capable of. It’s a touching moment of father-son bonding, but it’s also a moment that involves giving a Deadite a swirlie in the toilet bowl before chainsawing her head off.
Ash realizes the woman who’s pretending to be Brandy’s kindly guidance counselor is actually Ruby in disguise, so he heads to the woman’s house for a showdown. That’s where he encounters Ruby’s demon spawn, a pint-sized creature skilled in some of the dirtiest combat tactics that Ash has ever faced. The Ash vs. Evil Dead list of “things you cannot unsee” would not be complete without the image of a tiny toddler wriggling up inside a decapitated woman’s corpse and popping his giggling head out of her neck hole... before reversing his orientation and poking his head out of a completely different body cavity. We have to agree with Ash, who shouts out “That is so wrong in so many ways!”
A fight scene so epic it stretched across two episodes, this face-off was particularly special for Evil Dead fans because it brought back Ted Raimi as the obese, shit-talking, cellar-dwelling Deadite Henrietta, one of the most memorable and terrifying characters in Evil Dead 2. (Raimi, brother of Evil Dead director Sam Raimi, also appeared as Ash’s buddy Chet elsewhere in season two.) You can tell Campbell and Raimi are having a blast filming the scene, which achieves operatic heights of horror comedy (as when Henrietta shoves her dribbling bosom into Ash’s mouth, cackling “How about some nice, warm milk from Granny!”), with both elaborate creature effects and some classic Three Stooges eye-poking moves thrown in for good measure.
Teased months before it aired as “the most disgusting yet hilarious Ash physical fight” ever, Ash’s knock-down, drag-out fight in the Elk Grove morgue showcases Campbell’s incredible gift for physical comedy—while also placing the iconic character in maybe the most stomach-turning scenario imaginable. After Ruby tells him she’s hidden the Necronomicon in a corpse, he rummages through every body in storage until he finds the right one... but it’s not as simple as ripping a book out of a stiff when there are demons involved. Snake-like intestines come to life and wrap around our poor hero, whose protestations as he’s pulled in are a garbled “Not up the butt! Not up the buttttt!” (Of course, he goes up the butt, and it’s all kinds of hairy, dribbling, and horrible.) Further elevating the colon fight to the top spot is Ash’s line as he shotguns the corpse’s troublesome digestive tract into oblivion: “This town is only big enough for one asshole, and that asshole is me.”
Damn, we’re going to miss you, Ash vs. Evil Dead—and all the times, including the many beyond this list of 13, that you made us want to barf and laugh at the same time.