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[Editorial] Can the ‘Evil Dead’ Franchise Continue Without Bruce Campbell?

[Editorial] Can the ‘Evil Dead’ Franchise Continue Without Bruce Campbell?

The biggest horror news of last week sadly paved way for the biggest horror news of this week, with this past Friday’s cancellation of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” leading to star Bruce Campbell officially hanging up the chainsaw-hand this week. According to Campbell, he’s done playing Ash Williams, setting his sights instead on other fish he wants to fry.

So where does that leave the Evil Dead franchise, to which Campbell is inextricably linked? Could it continue beyond Campbell, or does it die along with his retirement?

The good news for Evil Dead is that there’s certainly no shortage of other characters to take up the mantle, and Fede Alvarez’s exceptionally grueling remake already proved that Evil Dead doesn’t *need* Ash. Lest you think such a statement is sacrilege, check out what Campbell wrote this week, in his official announcement about his Ash retirement:

“Is Ash dead? Never. Ash is as much a concept as a person. Where there is evil in this world, there must be one to counter – man or woman, it matters not.”

In other words, in Bruce Campbell’s own words, “Ash” is merely the hero who stands up against evil in the world of Evil Dead, and Jane Levy’s Mia already proved that back in 2013. Ash himself may be the “chosen one,” tasked with vanquishing Deadites and saving the world, but Mia proved that Ash isn’t the only one who’s cut out for that particularly unpleasant line of work. And though nothing is in the works at this time – we reached out to Fede Alvarez over the weekend, who told us that he hasn’t heard a peep – we’d *love* to see Mia return in a sequel to Evil Dead. Granted, what we all wanted was an Ash/Mia team-up film, but a Levy-lead remake franchise sounds just as good to me.

Let’s not forget that Mia, like Ash in Evil Dead 2, lost a hand in her first battle with the Deadites, so she could even be affixed with a chainsaw hand to truly become a new Ash!

But Mia isn’t the only Evil Dead character who suggests a promising future for the franchise, as “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” though it may have only lasted three seasons, gave us three main characters who we’d love to see back in action either individually or together, perhaps even with Mia by their sides. I’m of course talking about Kelly Maxwell and Pablo Simon Bolivar, Ash’s two sidekicks throughout the entire run of the Starz series, as well as Brandy Barr, Ash’s teenage daughter who we first met (as did Ash) in Season 3.

Kelly, played by Dana DeLorenzo, is a badass, take no shit fighter who would herself be a worthy replacement for Ash going forward, as she’s become the most fan-favorite character introduced in the Starz series. As for Pablo, played by Ray Santiago, he rose to his destiny as “Brujo Especial” in Season 3 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” essentially making him the first superhero in the Evil Dead universe (sorry, Ash). Imbued with both good and evil powers, Pablo is perhaps even more equipped to protect the world from the evils of the Book of the Dead than Ash himself, so there’s endless potential there.

And then there’s Brandy, played by Australian actress Arielle Carver-O’Neill. Brandy unfortunately didn’t get all that much to do in Season 3 of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” and one of the biggest bummers of the series being cancelled is that Brandy was just coming into her own as a great character in literally the final two episodes. Brandy has finally embraced who she is – the daughter of the “Chosen One,” meaning she’s going to have to carry on her dad’s work – and we really would’ve loved to see Brandy and Ash fighting side-by-side in Season 4. With Campbell retired as Ash, that’s looking very unlikely in any iteration of the Evil Dead franchise’s future, but it’d be fun to see Ash’s daughter continue on in her old man’s stead. She’s the only other Williams there is, after all.

But perhaps the most exciting potential for the future of Evil Dead is that the stage has been perfectly set for the blood-soaked insanity to continue, in some form, with three ass-kicking females at the helm. The thought of Mia, Kelly and Brandy joining forces to continue Ash’s work is nothing if not a hugely exciting one, as it’d allow for the remake and original franchises to be blended together in a really fun way. Such a mash-up could go down in a variety of ways, either with a sequel to the Evil Dead remake or perhaps even a sort-of continuation of “Ash vs. Evil Dead” on a platform like Netflix or Amazon. You can’t have “Ash vs. Evil Dead” without Ash, this much is true, but a simple name change could allow for the spirit of the series to carry on in a different form. “Kelly vs. Evil Dead” has a nice ring to it, and DeLorenzo is certainly deserving of top billing.

No matter what the future holds, one thing is for certain: Bruce Campbell will always be greatly missed in any project bearing the Evil Dead title that he’s not a part of. But with a strong roster of other characters at their disposal, the franchise’s creative forces certainly have a lot to work with if they choose to continue on without the guy with the gun.

Here’s hoping the last of Ash doesn’t mean the last of Evil Dead.



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