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Ash vs Evil Dead: Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell on the Evil Dead legacy

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Matt Klitscher/Starz

Fans have been clamoring for its return, and that return will finally come when Starz premieres Ash vs Evil Dead on Halloween night. It marks the triumphant next chapter in the Evil Dead franchise — a franchise that delivered three cult classic movies in the 1980s & ’90s that hardcore horror fans still hold dear to their hearts. So when I sat down with director Sam Raimi, star Bruce Campbell, and new addition Lucy Lawless, I couldn’t help but wonder if Raimi had any fear about tarnishing the legacy of the trilogy by bringing it back.

Turns out he had plenty. “Yes, that fear filled me for years,” says Raimi. “And a lot of it is why I didn’t approach it again, because people really liked them, and why should I risk making another one? Maybe they won’t like it. We got really lucky with those. But the fans kept at it, they kept asking for it. Even when I would be making these bigger pictures like Spider-Man, they’d say, ‘It’s fine, but we really want to see Bruce Campbell with you directing him in Evil Dead.‘ I’d think, ‘You still want to see that? How about asking for one of my other movies? Why do you keep asking for that?’ “

For Raimi, the concern was living up to the love fans had of the first film, and the solution was making himself one of those fans and trying to please his own sensibilities. “I was afraid of meeting some standard that they had. [Brother Ivan Raimi] and I wrote draft after draft. We tried to keep in mind what we thought we’d love to see, and we hoped that we were still connected to the audience and that the things that we wanted to see was what they wanted to see. And we didn’t know until we had that show [at New York Comic Con] if it would work or not. And I was so relieved — not even happy, just relieved — that they seemed to be getting into it and they loved watching Bruce. It was quite an extraordinary feeling to have that weight, after so many years, lifted off my shoulders. It happened all during that show.”

For his part, star Bruce Campbell had fewer reservations about bringing Evil Dead back to life. “I’m not as worried,” says the star. “The reason being this show looks as good or better than any of the other Evil Dead movies. As far as the sophistication of the effects, as far as the look, the quality of the cinematography, the art direction — pretty much every department all down the line. These are the people who did Lord of the Rings. These are the people who did Spartacus. These are the people who did Xena and Hercules. This is the crew to go to.”

Campbell also welcomes the chance to revisit the character of Ash. “I’m actually most excited to come back to this character after I’ve had 25 years of experience. I did Ash when I didn’t know s— from Shinola, and that’s the role that I’m the best known for? That guy, when I couldn’t act my way out of a wet paper bag? I would like to revisit that, please. I would like to revisit Ash 25 years later with more experience, and work with Sam 25 years down the road.”

For more from our Ash vs Evil Dead roundtable with Rami, Campbell, and Lawless, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now, or buy it here. And for more Ash vs Evil Dead intel, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.