Icon Of Horror: Ash Williams

With a chin that could kill, a vast array of one-liners and weapons and an attitude that would make the fairest of maidens swoon, cult favourite Ashley ‘Ash’ J Williams is the man for the job when it comes to battling demons and monsters…no matter what time period it’s in.

ash 1

The 1981 film The Evil Dead introduced us to a character, who at first doesn’t come across as the type to be battling monsters and demons from beyond the grave. But as the film, and franchise, progressed it was obvious that there was much more to this S-Mart employee, than a blue shirt and a 1973 oldsmobile.

Ash’s story begins in a remote cabin in the middle of the woods; a setting which would inspire many horror films to come. Him, his girlfriend Linda and a group of their friends have decided to take a trip away to the cabin and let off some steam. But after discovering a weird-looking book in the cellar, one of the group takes it upon himself to read an incantation. Unfortunately for the group it is the book of the dead, or the Necronomicon. A book that is bound in human flesh, written in human blood and has the power to raise demonic spirits into our world; and that’s just what happens. Ash is forced to fight off his friends and lover as they one by one become possessed by the entities, although he survives the night his nightmare has only just begun.

Among the many things that The Evil Dead is famous for – a major one involving a possessed tree – the character of Ash Williams is probably the most important. His suave and cool demeanour are what keeps the low-budget horror film together. What makes the groovy monster-fighter even better is the fact that the actor who portrays him, Bruce Campbell, is exactly the same in real life. So for every Evil Dead film you know that Campbell is going to give you the Ash Williams that you love because he is just being himself, with a bit more groovyness.

Bruce Campbell’s cult status continued to grow as The Evil Dead franchise added a sequel; Evil Dead 2 in 1987. However it wasn’t until the trilogy was complete in 1992 with Army Of Darkness that Bruce Campbell and Ash both became cult legends. Whereas The Evil Dead was primarily a horror film, Evil Dead 2 had some comedy elements to it. But Army of Darkness combined horror and slapstick comedy together to create a film that should be in every horror fans DVD collection. When you think about a horror film that has slapstick comedy in it, it is hard to imagine how anyone could make it work, but with Army Of Darkness it does. The reason is, other than the mind of Sam Raimi, because of Ash Williams; his witty one-liners such as ‘gimme some sugar baby’ and his cool rough-tough guy appearance keep us hooked. As we witness him being a complete bad-ass killing demons, and then comically running around with another head attached to him.

As I said before his true cult identity came through with Army Of Darkness, ask any Ash Williams fan and they will tell you that his appearance consists of a chainsaw for a hand and a shotgun strapped to his back (or his Boom-stick). That appearance is definitely one that stands up there with the likes of Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees in horrors best icons.

One of the main reasons that Ash is such a loved character could be because he is just like us, with added wit and looks. If you think about all the action heroes in cinema: Bruce Willis, Wesley Snipes, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Their characters are usually incredibly buff hard men who kick the crap out of the antagonists. But Ash is just a simple person like us who is lost in a world of horrors, and eventually lost in a different time-zone.

ash

For fans yearning after a bit more Ash Williams now that The Evil Dead trilogy has finished, a lot of Sam Raimi’s films have Bruce Campbell making a cameo appearance, including his Spider-man trilogy. Or check out the post-credits part of the 2012 remake of Evil Dead for a snippet of the handsome hero reciting one of his most famous catchphrases.

Remember, the next time you are attacked by a demon and they fall to the floor as if to have been killed. Don’t fall for it, it’s a trick…get an axe.

Original Film Tag Line: The Ultimate Experience In Grueling Terror.

Film Franchise List:

The Evil Dead – 1981

Evil Dead – 1987

Army Of Darkness – 1992

Evil Dead – 2012

 

Oculus: A Review

With the Oculus Rift making horror games so much scarier, it was only a matter of time before a film would be named after the Latin word for an eye-shaped opening.

oculus

An original story-line in horror goes a long way these days, as the vast majority of films are just re-workings of existing plots, remakes, sequels or prequels. To be honest, from the trailer it seemed as though Oculus was going to fit right in as one of those films. But thankfully the trailer didn’t reveal much in terms of the story-line; so you had no idea what to expect. That unexpected feeling stays with you throughout the entire picture.

Oculus starts with a flash of the past, which depicts Tim (Brenton Thwaites) and Kaylie (Karen Gillan, best known for Doctor Who) who are two young children, and are in a desperate attempt to escape from a man with a gun and what appears to be some form of supernatural being. Fast forward 11 years and it appears that the man was their father (Rory Cochrane), and due to their family possessing a mirror called ‘The Lasser Glass’, he was unknowingly forced into killing their mother (Katee Sackhoff). The tale doesn’t end there though as now in present day, Kaylie decides that the mirror needs to be destroyed so that it can never cause anyone pain again. With the help of her recently released from incarceration brother Tim, they prepare themselves for a night of terror in the hope that by morning the mirror will be destroyed and they can put their horrible ordeal behind them. But as The Lasser Glass’ mind tricks begin to engulf them and their reality starts to sink back into what happened 11 years ago, the destruction of the mirror seems almost hopeless.

When a film is only 20 minutes in and you have already jumped out of your skin to man kicking a box then you are probably onto something. The creepy atmosphere that Oculus creates is what, among other things, really draws you in, it grabs hold and rattles about your every last nerve. The viewer begins to embody the characters themselves, their fears become yours, and Kaylie and Tim escaping this nightmare feels all that more vital as you are trying to escape it as well.

Director Mike Flanagan really did an excellent job of intertwining the realities, we are shown both the story from 11 years ago and the one in present day. When the older Kaylie and Tim begin to remember what happened to them, they are thrust back into reliving those horrific days when The Lasser Glass took over their family. Although at some points you may feel lost, as soon as a scare comes through you get your bearings back. You really have to otherwise you won’t be able to prepare yourself for the next jump.

When you look at films such as Signs, Halloween or The Thing, they are such landmark films that give us the shivers even to this day; and one of the main reasons is the music score. Some simple notes can add a lot of terror to a film, tunes that will stick with you even after the film has ended. Oculus is one of those films, its bassy long notes, which are uncovered when the cast are running frantically from the antagonists, almost resemble an air raid siren. Something audiences recently saw in 2012’s Evil Dead remake. When those sirens start-a-comin’, you better be-a-runnin’.

You are constantly guessing with Oculus, although you can follow the plot. What will mystify you is the mirror itself, as it isn’t so much a being, but more a force. We aren’t really indulged into its power until about half way through the film as well, so when the scares come, and they do, you really don’t know what to expect.

Tag Line: You See What It Wants You To See.

 

We Interrupt This Programme

I Spit On Your Grave 3

Most horror fans will know of the 1978 controversial film ‘I Spit On Your Grave’, and the 2010 remake which wasn’t a total disaster. You may have even seen the tedious sequel to the remake which was basically the first film all over again. Well to all those fans who are still, for some reason, eager for more, plans have been put in place for a ‘I Spit On Your Grave 3’ film. Don’t get me wrong I’m all for women empowerment and I loved the original and the remake – to an extent. But nothing new is being brought to the table, it is the exact same story being repeated again. When viewing the sequel, yes it was shocking, but all the way through you knew what was coming because it had just happened in the remake. Perhaps the film makers will make the story different from the first two, because they really need to be more focused on entertaining their audience rather than just shocking them. It is not yet known whether Steven R. Monroe – director of the first two – is returning to helm the third film.

spit

V/H/S 3

In my opinion the best found-footage franchise is definitely the REC films, but following not far behind is the V/H/S franchise. There is just something about the V/H/S films that really made me enjoy them, perhaps it is because I have a soft spot for hand-held cameras. But what really captures my enjoyment are the separate stories portrayed, it means you get to enjoy maybe four or five films in 2 hours. What V/H/S did wrong V/H/S 2 improved upon greatly, and left you eager for another. Thankfully the time has come for the next instalment with V/H/S Viral. A whole host of directors are on board to deliver this third helping of anthology terror, and as the title suggests, this time it goes viral. At the moment what we know is that, as the title suggests, it will centre more around videos on the internet rather than actual VHS tapes; perhaps to appeal to today’s audience more. From the trailer V/H/S Viral does not look set to disappoint, and will hopefully sit nicely as the best in the franchise. The anthology genre is not dead.

viral