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.
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.
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