Tag Archives: Ray Santiago

A Year after ‘Ash vs Evil Dead,’ That Scene Still Resonates

“That’s the key,” Bruce Campbell noted on the DVD commentary of the Ash vs Evil Dead series finale, “give the actors something appropriate to do.” In the end, the lasting image of the EVIL DEAD franchise was not a one-liner or practical effect or or even gallons of blood, but the connection shared between a handful of performers and the audience which followed them on a journey that came to an end one year ago today.

Ash vs Evil Dead offered a surplus of splatstick, but over 15 hours of series life, it also provided a peek behind the curtain at who Ashley J. Williams (Campbell) truly was. Perhaps its greatest achievement, though, was getting a die hard fan base to fall in love with characters it had never known before 2015.

THE EVIL DEAD premiered in Detroit, Michigan on October 15, 1981, with origins that stretched back even further, but didn’t introduce Pablo Simon Bolivar (Ray Santiago) and Kelly Maxwell (Dana DeLorenzo) for 34 years, and it would be another two before Brandy Williams (Arielle Carver-O’Neill) entered the fray. By the time “Mettle of Man,” came to a close, however, they were just as beloved as El Jefe, a testament to the writing team that brought the show to life.

James Eagan was responsible for 11 episodes, while Nate Crocker, Zoe Green and William Bromell all had a hand in penning 10 chapters. DeLorenzo was and continues to be a champion of the team effort responsible for making Ash vs Evil Dead what it was, and never was that more evident than the series finale. Campbell, Santiago, DeLorenzo and Carver-O’Neill assembled in the back of a military truck, armed only with Rick Jacobson’s words (Jacobson wrote and directed the final two episodes), and provided EVIL DEAD fans with the farewell we needed, but didn’t deserve.

On that same commentary track, Campbell said “This is very potentially the last time you will ever see these characters, and story-wise, we’ve been through too much to give them short shrift, as they say.” A concept Jacobson understood as well as the most ardent of AVED fans.

With a six-story, Kandarian demon looming in the distance, the Ghostbeaters all remained true to character.

Amid chaos and gunfire, Pablo rushed to rescue a frightened little girl cowering on the street, Kelly picked up a weapon and defended the soldiers facing off with oncoming Deadites, and Brandy held tight to the ride or die stance that put her firmly at Ash’s side.

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 2017And as the Godzilla-like monster roared and the blades of a helicopter whirled overhead, the Prophesied One glanced at the faces of his family and “finally, for once, own(ed) up to who the hell [he] was.”

Brandy questioned what he was doing and Kelly barked “Ash, come on. Get in the fucking truck!” but Ash knew that nearly four decades on, the time had come. And Campbell, along with his partners in crime hit every note Jacobson had poured onto the page.

“My father always said I ran from my fights, Brandy. I’m not runnin’ from this one.”

As NYPD Blue methodically unveiled the soul of Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) over 12 seasons, so too did AVED reveal that Ash was not only the hero we always believed him to be, but that he was no longer a caricature, rather a human being willing to lay down for those he cared about.

As Jacobson commented, “[Ash] knows that most likely, [his decision] was going to be a one way trip.” For the first time, it was not one-liner that left tears in our eyes, but the heartfelt emotion Campbell exuded saying goodbye.

Like a father stingy with a compliment, Ash picked the perfect time to show the Ghostbeaters how he truly felt about them.

“Kelly, people are going to need a strong leader. Someone they can depend on, someone they can believe in. That’s you.” Maxwell, the focused leader to Ash’s reluctant, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants Chosen One, finally knew that she didn’t have to be like Ash, that who she was was exactly what the world needed.

PabloTurning to El Brujo Especial, “Pablo, you’re the Jefe now.” A quick cut to Ash’s right-hand man found his orbs moist with sentiment, but he said nary a word, just pursed his lips with a pained smile and nod of understanding. Nothing needed to be said. Perfectly written and perfectly acted. I’m not ashamed to admit that for all the times I had to pause Ash vs Evil Dead because I was howling with laughter, that reaction shot was the only time I paused it because I was overwhelmed. It was a good minute or two before the tears had stopped.

“You save them.” Once more, it was no longer about Ash or even those he held most dear, but the citizens of Elk Grove and the world at large, because the savior of humanity was finally ready to fulfill his destiny.

But not before parting ways with the daughter he’d only begun to know, but loved deeply.

“You said you wouldn’t leave me.”

Holding back tears, Ash responded “I’m doin’ this for you. I’m doing it for all of you.” Brandy placed her hand on the window, and Ash answered in kind, his head bowed, and a gentle, loving double tap of his fingers on the glass. As the truck pulled away, we saw Ash standing alone as the camera widened the distance between them.

“Now Rick, you know I’ve butchered dialogue before, I’ve butchered mercilessly,” Campbell said. “I didn’t change anything in that dialogue because I really liked it.”

It’s been a year since we said farewell to Ash vs Evil Dead, but much like Ashley J. Williams, those final fleeting moments when Rick Jacobson’s words were shared between the Ghostbeaters will stand the test of time.

DeLorenzo silhouette

 

 

 

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Memories Won’t Fade even as Ash vs Evil Dead Says Goodbye

After nearly forty years, we’re sad to say goodbye to a franchise that has given us three films and thirty television episodes. That heartbreak has less to do with Ash Williams, and everything to do with our memories of watching The King ham it up.

Those memories are different for everyone. It could be where you were when you first laid eyes on The Evil Dead, or the people with whom you watched Army of Darkness, or or perhaps the way the splatstick of Ash vs Evil Dead helped you put your troubles on the back burner, if only for 30 minutes. It goes without saying that memories are a very personal thing, but make no mistake, the reason Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead universe resonate so deeply with fans comes down to individual circumstance.

For me, it was the routine of waking on Sunday mornings after a night of shenanigans and grabbing my phone to pull up the latest chapter of AVED. It’s been my way for three years now, and I’d be lying if I said I weren’t going to miss the hell out of it. To be honest, though, I must admit that it’s been the interactions I’ve blessed to experience with cast members that endeared me most to Ash vs Evil Dead. Hell, I almost set Ted Raimi up on a blind date, but I’ll get to that.

I’m not even going to discuss the interview I scored with the King two days before the Season 2 finale (though it took two years to land, and I was never so nervous in my life), because in a matter of seconds before our discussion came to a close, Campbell provided a gift that can never be repaid.

CampbellSince entering the arena of horror writing, one relationship has towered above all others, and that is my friendship with the owner and operator of Nightmare Nostalgia, Patti Pauley. Many times she’d mentioned that Bruce Campbell was her son’s hero, and I always told her that should I get the opportunity to speak with the man who was Ash, I’d see about getting a personal message for her boy. So when the time came, I asked Campbell if he’d be good enough to share a few words, and he didn’t disappoint.

While the message itself was vintage Bruce — short and not-so sweet — her delight when I told her that he’d agreed to say something had me grinning from ear-to-ear. However, it wasn’t until later that night that I realized that she’d not only shared that message with her son when he got home from school, but on Facebook as well. I watched as her child gasped and faux-fainted when he discovered that a message from Bruce Campbell existed that was for his ears only. Thinking about it now makes me giddy beyond belief, because it’s a moment that doesn’t belong to the masses, but the three of us, to be cherished forever.

Like the conversation I had with Dana DeLorenzo in my kitchen.

It wasn’t that she’d no doubt done innumerable interviews with other outlets, or that she found it funny that I’d been involved with the “Thanks for talkin’” conference call months earlier, but my discovery that she was every bit as charming and hilarious off screen as she was fierce as Kelly Maxwell on. DeLorenzo shared that she couldn’t wrap her head around the fact that she was doing a Q&A with a popular horror outlet in the same room where she’d played with Barbies as a child, before offering exquisite teaser after exquisite teaser.

DeLorenzoI won’t lie, it was a fantastic discussion, but while the thought never crossed my mind that I was “in” with her (and still don’t), it led to a shot in the dark that I’m glad I took. About a week into Women in Horror Month 2017, it dawned on me that securing a true horror heroine to wrap the month would be fantastic, and the first person who came to mind was Ms. DeLorenzo. So I messaged her to ask if she’d be interested in penning a piece for HorrorGeekLife about her experiences in the genre, with zero expectation. To my surprise, she agreed, and shared a beautifully poignant and inclusive piece that left HGL’s editor in tears. Till my last breath, I will never believe that she said yes, but if you ever want to know how incredible Dana DeLorenzo is, look no further than that act of generosity.

Which brings us to her partner in crime, the powerful vagina himself, Ray Santiago.

With a telephone conversation during or prior to each season, Santiago is the only Ghostbeater whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with more than once. After Baal sliced and diced Jefe’s right-hand man near the end of Season 2, I chatted with Santiago and wasn’t entirely convinced that we’d seen the last of Pablo, and felt compelled to say that if it was the end, I spoke for Evil Dead fans everywhere in thanking him for the franchise’s finest character not named Ash, and a job well done.

AvD-Pablo2

To my shock, Santiago was touched by the sentiment, stammering through “Dude, you literally just made me…that makes my day.” The thought of that exchange still makes me smile, to say nothing of the shit-eating smirk that appeared on my mug after Kelly and Pablo finally locked lips during the current season which led to my tweet “Can we just agree that Kelly and Pablo are the Jim & Pam of horror?” Santiago responded with a message that was short, but much sweeter than Campbell’s – “Love you for saying this!”

Just because I’ve written for a couple of newspapers doesn’t mean I don’t have occasion to geek out from time-to-time.

Like the summer of ’16, for instance.

When I found out that Mr. Raimi had joined the cast for Season 2 (long before any of us realized that he’d reprise his role as Henrietta, or that Chet housed a monumental secret for three decades), I made it a goal to score the genre legend. Having delighted in his responses and ridiculous, infectious laugh for half an hour, the moment arrived for me to tell him that a colleague of mine at iHorror, Waylon Jordan, wanted me to inform Raimi that he loved Ted in a “totally non-weird way.”

Once again, Raimi cackled, and sans hesitation, shot back “Well, you tell him back that I love him in a completely weird way. Like, I’m just in love with him, and I would very much like his phone number.”

RaimiMy “alright” was met with more laughter and “Tell him if he’s ever available for dates, I’m a great date. And I promise not to be too grabby on the first one.” I cannot begin to describe my elation at sending that clip to a friend.

But that’s what it’s all about.

Look, if you’re still reading this, then you love the Evil Dead universe and probably have similar experiences that you hold dear. And that’s the reason none of us are ready to say goodbye and that this franchise has life almost forty years after it began.

Yes, the films are fantastic fun, but it’s not just about watching and re-watching those movies or the series, but of the times you spent with family and friends as you took it all in, or interactions you’ve had with Campbell or Raimi or DeLorenzo or Santiago at conventions or chance encounters on the street.

More than a scene or a kill or a one-liner, those are the moments that stay with you. We’ll always have three seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead (and, of course, the features), but I will carry the memories that I’ve collected over three years and thirty episodes for the rest of my life.

So I will savor Ash vs Evil Dead’s conclusion with a smile on my face, and maybe even shed a tear or ten.

For irreplaceable memories, both on screen and off, I offer a heartfelt thank you to the cast and crew of the best show on television.

To the Ghostbeaters.

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