8 Things We Learned on the Set of Ash vs. Evil Dead

by | October 28, 2015 | Comments

Starz is breathing new life into the Evil Dead franchise with Ash vs. Evil Dead, a horror-comedy hybrid chronicling the Deadite-dueling exploits of Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell). Filmed in New Zealand, the 10-episode season debuts on Halloween. Here are eight things we learned while visiting the show’s set in Auckland.

Made in Michigan

Ash vs Evil Dead

Director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and producer Rob Tapert all hail from the Wolverine State, the same place the show is set. Kiwi prop master Marney McKenna snagged a bunch of Michigan memorabilia on eBay and peppered it around the set for authenticity.

To wit: A T-shirt from The Fish Market in Erie dangled from a clothesline outside Ash’s Airstream trailer. Bottles of Jolly Pumpkin and Motor City Brewing Works beer were strewn around a fictional watering hole loosely inspired by Detroit’s legendary veterans’ bar, The Old Miami.

“You’ll see other Michigan products like Better Made Potato Chips and Detroit Tigers baseball stickers on cars’ bumpers,” said Raimi, who still has lots of family and a holiday home in the Midwest state.

As a kid, he and Campbell guzzled more than their share of locally made Faygo Red Pop.

“I contacted the company and asked if they’d be interested in having their product in the show,” McKenna said. “They said they were more than interested and sent it all for free.”

‘The Classic’ never goes out of style

Ash vs Evil Dead

Fans of The Evil Dead — or Raimi’s movies in general — will instantly recognize Ash’s yellow cake batter-colored ’73 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The engine’s baritone rumble filled the cavernous soundstage during a trailer park scene.

“You can’t just drive it to New Zealand; it had to be shipped like the Crown Jewels,” Campbell said.

Raimi’s dad bought the set of wheels in the ’70s. It served as Raimi and Campbell’s main mode of transportation when they were students at Wylie E. Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Michigan.

“We’d go to movies in that car, we’d make movies in that car,” Campbell said about ‘The Classic,’ which has several replicas. “Sam has put that car in every movie he’s ever made, that same piece-of-s–t car that I’m going to kill if I ever get the chance because it’s an unhealthy obsession.”

S-Mart is out, Value Stop is in

Ash vs Evil Dead

When we last saw Ash in the 1992 film Army of Darkness, he had a retail job at S-Mart. (Who could forget the catchy logo? “Shop smart. Shop S-Mart!”)

These days, our aging under-achiever makes bank by stocking shelves at a joint called Value Stop.

“It’s the equivalent of S-Mart,” Campbell said. “It’s just a fictitious place where a loser would work.”

His fellow employees are Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas), described as a moody wild child trying to outrun her past.

“She’s a tough but lovable ball-buster,” said DeLorenzo, who fronted an Amy Winehouse tribute band in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles for her acting career. “When we first meet her, she’s gone through a tragedy — so she’s a little lost, trying to find a purpose in life. She finds her calling with Ash and the fight against the Evil Dead.”

Another one of their coworkers is Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago), an idealistic kid from Honduras who desperately wants to be an all-American boy.

“As somebody who comes from a different country and is here illegally, he’s struggling with fitting in,” said Santiago (Touch, Meet the Fockers). “But he’s smart and very Americanized. He’s USA all the way.”

He must be a hard worker, too. A sign in the Value Stop break room lists him as employee of the month.

Get ready to rumble

Ash vs Evil Dead

Fantastical fight scenes are the stock-in-trade of The Evil Dead franchise, and the TV series seems intent to carry on that tradition.

Ash’s Airstream trailer — built nearly twice as big as normal to accommodate the camera equipment — is the site of an epic, bloody brawl. So is a country home where Michigan State Trooper Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones, Sleepy Hollow) responds to a call in the series premiere.

“Stuff goes down in this house,” Jones said while sitting on the set of the vacation home under a row of ominous-looking mounted deer antlers, just waiting to impale some poor sucker.

“In episode one there are so many set pieces and action sequences,” said production designer Nick Bassett. “It’s kept us busy.”

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Or just Ash.

Ash vs. Evil Dead

The Deadite-slaying protagonist is a superhero of sorts and that’s meant to come across in Ash’s wardrobe, which includes a royal blue shirt topped with a red jacket.

“I’m trying to portray the Superman look,” costume designer Barbara Darragh said. “It’s based on a very sad Superman.”

“We have racks and racks of blue shirts,” she added. “It’s also a good color to show blood.”

Rubber hands feel weird

Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash lopped off his right hand with great fanfare in 1987’s Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. When he isn’t wearing his chainsaw glove, his arm is capped off by a dark, swollen-looking appendage with five sausage-like fingers.

“It’s just a rubber hand,” Campbell said. “You put baby powder on there and slip it on and off. Everything has to be fast and modular in television.”

He was wearing it when we were introduced on set and he reached out to shake hands — a sensation I won’t soon forget.

“It’s like a dead fish,” Campbell said. “I give a real limp handshake just to freak people out.”

Camp Tamakwa Easter egg hunt

Raimi first gave a shout-out to his childhood Camp Tamakwa in 1981’s The Evil Dead. A T-shirt emblazoned with the Canadian summer camp’s beaver logo hung in the closet of the haunted cabin in the woods.

Souvenirs from the camp have popped up in myriad movies since then, both in Raimi’s films and others, like American Pie.

The trend continues. I spotted a Tamakwa decal on the rear window of Ash’s car.

Tapert sold them on TV — and New Zealand

Ash vs Evil Dead

“Sam’s always threatened we’d do this,” veteran TV producer Rob Tapert said about resurrecting The Evil Dead. “Sam’s not a TV guy. It’s not in his DNA. He and his brother [Ivan Raimi] had been working on an idea and I said, ‘Guys, we should do this as a TV series.’ The reality is the Evil Deads were never very successful theatrical motion pictures. They succeeded in their longevity after developing a fan base. That’s the model for television. And the half-hour format is good for a show that doesn’t want to get bogged down in heavy drama. We want to horrify the audience but we also want them to laugh.”

Tapert (Xena: Warrior Princess, Spartacus) is no stranger to making TV in New Zealand.

“Financially it was advantageous to shoot it here with the incentives, the dollar exchange,” he said. “There are cheaper places to shoot in the world but not better places.”

It’s also where he lives with his Kiwi wife, Lucy Lawless, who’s in the show.

“She plays Ruby, a mysterious figure — our version of The Smoking Man from The X-Files,” he said.

“It’s ridiculous on some level that we’re here doing a TV show about a movie that we made way back when,” Tapert said about reuniting with Raimi and Campbell. “The last time we were all on set together working on something was Army of Darkness. We forgot how much we like it.”

Ash vs. Evil Dead premieres on Starz this Saturday, Oct. 31, at 9 p.m. Read reviews here.

Tag Cloud

Lucasfilm San Diego Comic-Con Sony Pictures archives Adult Swim travel facebook LGBTQ disaster Disney+ Disney Plus witnail movie BBC Emmys Tomatazos Disney streaming twilight Disney streaming service OneApp APB Apple TV+ USA Network boxoffice japanese based on movie crime richard e. Grant golden globes Logo a nightmare on elm street Reality 72 Emmy Awards Tarantino CW Seed Marathons Calendar Academy Awards Mystery video dramedy 99% Horror 007 die hard Ovation Mary Tyler Moore SXSW Rocketman Summer 20th Century Fox Trophy Talk Crunchyroll 2019 Paramount cancelled television Podcast anthology New York Comic Con Film Festival Dark Horse Comics strong female leads spy thriller El Rey psychological thriller classics FX on Hulu ratings Film Mudbound Teen Avengers Heroines nfl all-time reviews The Walking Dead Sundance Now movies unscripted MCU cults biography WarnerMedia binge Western DC Universe zombies TV renewals Polls and Games Creative Arts Emmys Spike police drama canceled TV shows comiccon Brie Larson CMT Apple Endgame Rom-Com indie FX documentaries dark Premiere Dates X-Men Apple TV Plus comedies BBC One Hulu Lifetime Musicals sag awards First Reviews SDCC USA video on demand animated IFC composers directors Pop TV adaptation natural history A&E SundanceTV Writers Guild of America TCA Travel Channel dogs zombie kids Reality Competition stop motion TCA Awards parents Crackle satire war comic Amazon Lifetime Christmas movies Country spinoff teaser YouTube Premium DC streaming service sitcom TIFF sequels harry potter robots HBO Max batman TCM The Academy Black History Month award winner GoT IFC Films black casting Kids & Family concert E3 Comic Book comic books Set visit DGA Binge Guide diversity cancelled TV series Interview television VICE ESPN obituary Fox News Ghostbusters criterion Rocky Amazon Prime Video canceled NYCC Black Mirror Sundance TV christmas movies Peacock Holidays book Elton John Freeform Turner Thanksgiving mockumentary TBS superhero cats versus Pirates Winter TV supernatural historical drama Quiz BAFTA LGBT sports political drama Extras spain TruTV Food Network spanish Oscars rotten Comics on TV Star Wars Shudder Hear Us Out Biopics Schedule Britbox CBS All Access cinemax football 45 elevated horror GLAAD adventure NBC GIFs spanish language festival crime thriller Awards Tour Mary Poppins Returns hist Animation cooking Music ITV BBC America Disney Channel Certified Fresh Cannes MSNBC TCA 2017 aliens cartoon Emmy Nominations free movies DC Comics Pet Sematary chucky Alien Martial Arts quibi Stephen King 2016 theme song YouTube Red Baby Yoda doctor who 2020 jamie lee curtis fresh Esquire Vudu Superheroes CNN ghosts Mindy Kaling Red Carpet dc National Geographic boxing Paramount Network period drama FXX RT21 OWN Grammys Musical scorecard Comedy Central ABC Christmas Fox Searchlight Chernobyl films james bond politics critics 2017 PBS Box Office The Witch Starz rt archives talk show First Look Star Trek game of thrones docudrama news Tubi foreign Marvel Television PlayStation Video Games WGN History dragons E! TV Land Hallmark italian blockbuster slashers green book The Purge Cosplay comics blaxploitation game show mission: impossible child's play Disney Plus Marvel Studios Tumblr spider-man Countdown deadpool cancelled reboot Captain marvel Valentine's Day remakes Spectrum Originals YA BET Awards cancelled TV shows Spring TV name the review french Drama science fiction technology rotten movies we love halloween tv documentary asian-american Chilling Adventures of Sabrina TCA Winter 2020 HBO Go Ellie Kemper Netflix Christmas movies A24 crossover Comedy ABC Family singing competition medical drama toy story President Pop The CW screenings scary movies Lionsgate romantic comedy best Sneak Peek Funimation zero dark thirty cops Year in Review Fall TV hollywood Television Critics Association Pride Month Action what to watch Warner Bros. universal monsters The Arrangement Masterpiece Character Guide Netflix HBO romance worst finale Toys Fantasy worst movies 71st Emmy Awards Family crime drama Mary poppins Trivia psycho Song of Ice and Fire Sci-Fi discovery Hallmark Christmas movies Cartoon Network Syfy 2018 Superheroe Amazon Studios Best and Worst Classic Film emmy awards werewolf 24 frames australia cars halloween sequel revenge 4/20 Arrowverse TV Television Academy children's TV stand-up comedy Turner Classic Movies joker Walt Disney Pictures Columbia Pictures breaking bad nbcuniversal festivals franchise Sundance Showtime serial killer independent BET Epix Nominations latino ID Women's History Month miniseries venice Bravo series anime American Society of Cinematographers AMC FOX laika MTV social media Amazon Prime Super Bowl Election toronto TLC Infographic justice league Opinion dceu Watching Series renewed TV shows Rock 21st Century Fox true crime vampires mutant transformers space Nickelodeon tv talk Trailer DirecTV PaleyFest 2015 Nat Geo Winners Anna Paquin VOD fast and furious Holiday Discovery Channel Pixar thriller TNT Awards Marvel hispanic indiana jones stoner screen actors guild nature VH1 YouTube See It Skip It south america Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Shondaland Universal Acorn TV CBS RT History Photos