Yesterday’s Ash vs Evil Dead Comic-Con panel was catnip for all the gorehounds who turned out to see Bruce “El Jefe” Campbell in person—as well as Sam Raimi, Lucy Lawless, Lee Majors, Ted Raimi, Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago and Rob Tapert. Most also participated in a press room earlier in the day.
One big change for the Starz show’s second season, which kicks off on Halloween, is that television legend Majors (The Fall Guy, The Six Million Dollar Man) is aboard to play Ash’s cantankerous father. (Campbell joked that they had to cast Majors, since he’s “the only other actor working in Hollywood who still has hair on his body,” and prompted Majors to give proof.) Majors—who was attending Comic-Con for the first time—explained how he came to be involved with the show.
“When they approached me, I was not that familiar with the show, but I knew what it was,” he admitted during the press room, in a tale he repeated for the panel. “I viewed the first episode, and then I kept viewing and viewing and viewing, all 10 episodes at one time. I said, ‘This is a fun show.’ I never associated so much horror and blood with being fun, but it’s just hilarious, the crew is so good, and the chemistry all seemed to work very well. It’s so well-done, and I don’t mind being a part of it.”
Majors and Campbell both mentioned how much they admire each other, and how well they get along off-camera, but that doesn’t extend to their characters. “[Ash’s father] doesn’t like his son,” Majors said. “[Ash] goes back to his home town, where he created the mess to begin with, and left me there trying to clean up his mess. The town kind of went against me, also, because they didn’t want to be associated with the father of ‘Ashy Slashy’.”
The show-biz veteran, who called himself “old-school,” had to quickly dive into the show’s very bloody aesthetic. “The chainsaw starts and things start happening and I didn’t even get a chance to close my eyes,” he remembered. “I think [the other actors] get used to it, and they know what’s coming, so they close their eyes before [the blood comes]. Anyway, it was all good and fun, but you walk around after that and have to stay in the same costume for hours. My pants and my shirt dried, so it felt like cardboard.”
DeLorenzo and Santiago enthusiastically revealed that season two is even gorier than season one. In the first episode, DeLorenzo had to contend with 85 liters of stage blood. “And I Google, OK ... that’s 26 gallons. Just on me. For one moment of one scene. And then Ray, Bruce, and I all got blasted with a cannon full of blood. And that wasn’t enough blood, so they just honestly took a bucket of blood and dumped it over our heads. So yes, double the blood, bigger stunts, bigger action sequences.”
After explaining that all that blood takes “no less than five showers and a bottle of shaving cream” to remove, DeLorenzo hinted at what that one of those bigger action sequences might entail.
“The one thing that will stand out [this season] will be the most disgusting yet hilarious Ash physical fight that [has happened] in the franchise. You will know what I’m talking about, because you will be talking about it around the water cooler at work when you are horrified, but laughing at what you just saw that you will not unsee.”
Campbell offered even more intel on that fight scene. “There’s a fight with a colon. An extended fight with a colon.”
Of course Ash would fight a colon. “Ash is a flawed hero, and that’s the beauty of it. I don’t like heroes who are perfect. That’s snoresville, man. I’ve turned down hero parts because the bad guy is so much better,” Campbell said, noting excitedly (as he also did during the panel) that Ash smokes angel dust this season.
Going back home to Elk Grove, Michigan, where his father and his high-school best friend, Chet (played by Ted Raimi), still dwell is no simple task for Ash.
“Chet is a very questionable character on his own ... he makes drinks laced with ketamine. So that’s not a healthy situation,” Campbell said. “And [Ash’s] relationship with his father is terrible. He hasn’t seen his father in 30 years. His father thinks he’s a serial killer, a maniac. The whole town gave him a nickname, ‘Ashy Slashy.’ So when he comes back to help the town, they don’t really want it. So he’s gotta fight the evil dead and his town.”
Season two will also feature a yet-to-be-known character who will play a very important role. “There’s also a new main, main baddie, who is a nasty fucker. But we’re gonna take him down. If we can,” Campbell said.
“It’s somebody who was intimately connected to [Lucy Lawless’ character] Ruby,” Rob Tapert—who produced the original Evil Dead movies, including Army of Darkness, which will get shout-outs this season—explained. “[This character] now knows that Ash is the chosen one, and he must be stopped at all costs.”
What paths might the show take if, as Campbell offered frequent and fervent hopes at the panel, it gets renewed for even more seasons? That’s “the struggle of the show,” according to Tapert.
“We kind of figure it out as we go. When we started this season, we thought we knew exactly where this is going. But the devil’s in the details. Once you get into it, you go, ‘Oh, it really wants to take this road, or you really want to follow this character in a new direction.’ So that’s been the creative challenge this season. You have an overall goal and you know, thematically, what you want to accomplish. But then the events that create that have been like jello.”
While Sam Raimi is still involved in Ash vs Evil Dead, his role in season two is somewhat reduced, according to Tapert. “Sam had a huge footprint in the first season. [The season two plot of] going back home, some of the casting decisions, including Lee, and some things we played around with involving his beloved Delta [car]—[those are things] that he had to sign off on, and he was very much ultimately behind those things. He was very involved in the first part of the second season, getting that all set up. But he’s been involved in some other big movie projects that sort of sucked him away for the later half of the season.”
As for Lawless, whose character will have a much bigger role this season, “My fans want to see me kicking ass,” she said. So there’ll be plenty of that. But Ruby is “not entirely trustworthy,” she stressed, and that seems to be a big factor in what happens as season two heats up. “In the end, Ruby is her own worst enemy. So just remember that I said that.”