Last year’s premiere of Ash Vs Evil Dead on Starz came after years of discussion about the possibility of an Evil Dead 4. The film series, which started as a nearly no-budget indie in 1981, included one sequel that was a slightly bigger budgeted remake called Evil Dead II in 1987, and then the ultimate third chapter called Army of Darkness, which was made with actually Hollywood money, in 1992. For the two decades after that though, it seemed the further adventures of Ash Williams, the series grandiose hero played by Bruce Campbell, were firmly stuck in development hell, but now, director Sam Raimi has shed some light on why, and before you ask it was more a problem with him than anything else.
As revealed by ScreenRant, who listened to the commentary track on the upcoming Blu-ray release of season one of Ash Vs. Evil Dead, the primary reason that Evil Dead 4 never came about was because Sam Raimi just couldn’t complete a script to his satisfaction. As a matter of fact, it seems as though he could barely write it at all. “Ivan [Raimi] and I wrote a lot of different versions of Evil Dead as a feature in the years after Army of Darkness,” the filmmaker said. “We’d get 20 pages into one draft and realize it was not good, do another five pages a different direction.”
What other directions were there? Raimi explained that one idea involved a kind of Scream-like metatextual where Ash makes a documentary about his life and takes it cross-country only to find out to his despair that no one cares. That was obviously a dig at Campbell’s own semi-autobiographical comedy My Name is Bruce, but Raimi ditched the notion because their wasn’t enough of an idea there for a whole movie. There was also another problem, two endings to Army of Darkness, one shown in North America where Ash returns home, and the ending shown internationally where Ash ends up in a post-apocalyptic future.
“So we wrote an Evil Dead 4 that followed both realities,” Raimi explained. “We were going to be following two Bruces – one in the future and simultaneously crosscutting to Bruce here in the present. And we realized, we have really lost our mind now and we must stop.”
And stop they did. In the meantime, there was Fede Alvarez‘s surprisingly decent 2013 remake of The Evil Dead, and Ash finally made his long-awaited return last year on Starz. Ash Vs. Evil Dead is now available on DVD and Blu-ray if you want to listen to the commentary for yourself, and season two of the series will premiere October 2 on Starz.