Ash Williams


Ash Williams

Ashley J. Williams (called Ash in the films and named "Ashly" in the original "Evil Dead" shooting script) is the protagonist in the "Evil Dead" horror film franchise, played by Bruce Campbell, and created by director Sam Raimi.

First appearing in the film "The Evil Dead", Ash has become very popular in modern cult horror and one of the few protagonists of said cult horror films to have such notoriety. He is most easily recognized and envisioned in later material based on his final appearance in the second film however, armed with a sawed-off shotgun and a chainsaw strapped to the stump on his right arm where his hand once was.

Conception and history

Ash's name according to Sam Raimi is a reference to his originally intended fate at the end of "Evil Dead", stating "that's all that was going to be left of him in the end." Campbell however suggested the name was short for "Ash Holt", indicating Raimi's opinion of the character. When creating "Army of Darkness", director Raimi toyed with giving him the full name "Ashley J. Williams", [Warren, Bill (2001). "The Evil Dead Companion". Macmillan. (2001). ISBN 0-312-27501-3. p. 181] which was later used by video games and comics involving the character. Campbell later confirmed in "Cinefantastique" that the full name was official. [Clarke, Frederick S. (1991). "Cinefantastique" 22-23: p. 29]

Fictional biography

Ash is in his twenties and usually lives a "normal" life. He is employed at the superstore, S-Mart [It is revealed that Ash works at S-Mart in Army of Darkness] (where he works in the housewares department), and had a girlfriend, Linda. Based on the engineering textbooks in the trunk of his car, it appears that he is (or at least was) studying at Michigan State University. Also, in the first Army Of Darkness comic book released by Dark Horse in the 90s, Ash says his father blew $20,000 on his engineering degree showing that either he completed his schooling and had done nothing with his education, or dropped out.

The Evil Dead

In "The Evil Dead", Ash and his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, and friends Scotty and Shelly stay at a log cabin in the woods, where they find the "Naturon Demonto" (renamed or possibly translated to "Necronomicon Ex-Mortis" in the sequels), the "Book of the Dead", along with a tape recorder. The tape is a recording of the owner of the cabin, who was translating a passage of the book. By playing the tape, Ash and his friends awake the evil spirits who can now possess the living. Ash's friends and sister are consequently possessed and killed one by one, until he's the last survivor. He finally destroys the Necronomicon by throwing it in the fireplace, and in doing so causes the possessed bodies of Scotty and Cheryl to rapidly decay and 'die', and the evil seems to be driven back. However, the film ends with Ash being attacked or possibly overtaken by an evil spirit himself.

Dead by Dawn

"Evil Dead II" continues the story from the previous film after a stunted recap in which the audience is only introduced to Ash's girlfriend Linda [Sam Raimi was unable to acquire footage from the original Evil Dead. He tried shooting some scenes featuring the other characters but they were abandoned. This was mentioned in the Evil Dead II audio commentary] (who still subsequently gets possessed, decapitated and buried) and Ash himself, to the point where the evil spirit attacks Ash. From this point, the film continues the story from where the first film left off. Carried a good distance by the demon, Ash is slammed hard against a tree and falls in a puddle of water. From here he becomes a deadite (see Deadite Ash, below) but shortly afterwards is released from the spirit by the coming of dawn, only to pass out. Ash regains consciousness moments before sunset. Deciding to get out of there as fast as he can, he climbs into his car and drives to where the bridge was, only to find it completely destroyed by the evil force. As the sun quickly sets, said force starts climbing up the cliff, and Ash hops into his car, driving away as fast as he can and as a result, crashing right into a treestump that sends him flying through the windshield. With the evil close behind him, he runs into the cabin and through it trying to hide, and ducks into the trapdoor, waiting until the evil force leaves. After it does, Ash comes out, only to find himself stuck at the cabin with the spirits of the Evil Dead for yet another night. Later, the cabin owner's daughter, Annie and three more people arrive. It is near the end of this film that Ash gets his famous chainsaw in place of his right hand. The film ends with Ash being sucked into a vortex and traveling back in time to 1300 AD, where the locals claim, according to their prophecies, that he is "The Man That Falls from the Sky" who will save them from the "Deadites" (demon-possessed zombies).

Army of Darkness

The next film continues the story from there (though he receives far less of a warm welcome than the end of the previous film suggests). Ash has to defeat his alter-ego known as "Bad Ash"/"Evil Ash" who is leading the Army of Darkness to steal the Necronomicon. In this movie, Ash constructs a mechanical prosthetic hand out of a gauntlet from a suit of armor, using it throughout the film in place of the chainsaw (though he still carries it with him). The movie has two different endings, one where he returns to his own time and defends S-Mart from a possessed woman, and another, the director's cut (or Japanese version entitled "Captain Supermarket"), where he ends up in a post-apocalyptic future.

Characteristics, equipment, and abilities

Ash is known for two main weapons: his "boomstick", a sawed off double-barreled 12 gauge Remington shotgun (although this weapon has changed several times), and the more noticeable chainsaw, which was adapted to replace his right hand, amputated in "Evil Dead II" after being possessed by a Kandarian spirit. Later, during "Army of Darkness", Ash builds himself a new, mechanical right hand using a plate, chainmail gauntlet, and customized springs. The mechanical hand is fully functional, and even allows Ash to exhibit an otherwise superhuman grip, although he seemingly does not have it in any media set after "Army of Darkness". The shotgun also possesses a strange ability to consistently fire more rounds than Ash has loaded and has been shown to disappear at inconvenient times for Ash, only to reappear several moments later. His chainsaw can run for a remarkably long time without running out of gas, as seen throughout the final scenes of "Evil Dead II".

The Deathcoaster is seen in the latter parts of "Army of Darkness", made from the remains of his car and powered by a steam engine. The main feature of it is a massive rotating blade on the front of it, akin to an angled upright lawnmower blade. The Deathcoaster was destroyed during the film's final battle. At the end of the film he takes what is left of it with him, though it hasn't been seen or used in any later material. The Deathcoaster was not referred to as such in the film; the name only appears in scripts and publicity material.

Besides the sawed-off Remington shotgun, Ash is also skilled in the use of other firearms like the Winchester Model 1894 lever action rifle. Strangely, Ash seems to lose possession of both his chainsaw and shotgun during "Army of Darkness", as he is not seen to be carrying the chainsaw after dismembering Bad Ash and is not seen with his shotgun after crashing the Deathcoaster. A possible continuity error exists within the series; while Ash claimed to have obtained his shotgun at S-Mart in "Army of Darkness", he really found it at Professor Knowby's cabin during "Evil Dead II", though as some point out, Ash only says that the gun "can be found" in S-Mart, and never explicitly says that he got it there.

Bruce Campbell has stated Ash is pretty much incompetent at everything except fighting the Evil Dead ["Audio commentary for Evil Dead II, Bruce Campbell: "As dumb as Ash is, he's actually a capable guy with dealing with monsters"] . Campbell also added that Ash is "a bad slow thinker and a good fast thinker". He knows some degree of hand-to-hand combat techniques, and prowess with a variety of weapons in various situations [In Army of Darkness, Ash trains the people of Arthur's kingdom in martial arts] . His main strength seems to be his ingenuity: although he is repeatedly noted in the audio commentaries for "The Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead II" for his stupidity and ignorance, he has from the second film on been shown creating such things ranging from his chainsaw bracket and shotgun harness, gunpowder from mainly referencing its elemental makeup in a chemistry book, a fully functional prosthetic hand from a metal gauntlet, and the short-lived "Deathcoaster". His inventing skills are further expanded on in the games: in ', he creates fully-functional weapons such as a flamethrower and a harpoon gun from spare parts that are merely laying about; and in ', the inventiveness seems to run in Ash's family, as his blacksmith ancestor in the Colonial Dearborn level is quickly able to make a flamethrower and a gatling gun from spare parts Ash finds for him, when Ash says those things "haven't even been invented yet".

In addition, during the second time he was possessed near the climax of "Evil Dead II", Ash displayed some degree of superhuman strength (see "Deadite Ash" below), as seen when he easily lifted Jake over his head and threw him at least ten feet into a tree and ripped the back screen door of the cabin off of its hinges with his one remaining hand.

Ash's personality and state of mind change drastically throughout the franchise. In "The Evil Dead" and the beginning of "Evil Dead II", he is something of a laid-back everyman who is cowardly and inexperienced, but by the middle of "Evil Dead II" and into "Army of Darkness", he has grown into a much braver, even arrogant person, and becomes the voice of encouragement and confidence in Arthur's castle. It is at this point that Ash becomes known for his one-liners, and his personality takes on a more cynical, embittered tone. Sam Raimi has said that he feels Ash's personality transformation in "Darkness" was very out of character [Sam Raimi's comments on the DVD audio commentary for the "Army of Darkness" Director's Cut.] .

Ash's experiences with the Necronomicon have left him cynical, irritable, and slightly insane; some of the horrible things that happened to him in the film trilogy (such as his reflection in Evil Dead II) were merely his hallucinations and not the doings of the "Evil Dead".

Variant incarnations

Bad Ash/Evil Ash

Ash's dark side manifests itself as a separate entity first in "Evil Dead II", where he hallucinates his reflection tormenting him over dismembering 'their' girlfriend with a chainsaw, and then proceeds to try and choke him (only for Ash to realize he was choking himself). This side of him later splits off his body in a drawn out painful event in "Army of Darkness" (unlike the original, having both hands intact), becoming 'Bad Ash' and getting first blown away at point blank range by Ash's shotgun, then cut to pieces, and finally buried (though even in this state he still 'lived').

When Ash blunders and accidentally awakens the Army of the Dead, Bad Ash re-emerges from the grave quickly piecing himself together as the decayed 'Evil Ash' and takes command of the undead troops, even corrupting Ash's then-love interest Sheila into a deadite-like hag. He battles the original Ash as he makes a bee-line for the Necronomicon, and gets lit ablaze by a torch, only to re-emerge as 'Skeleton Evil Ash', a much more agile and dangerous version. As Henry the Red's troops arrive to assist in the battle against the undead and break their ranks, Evil Ash, ironically, has his right hand holding the Necronomicon chopped off by Ash, and is then catapulted into the sky riding a lit sack of gunpowder to be blown to pieces.

He returns in "" after Ash's possessed hand releases the evil force once more into the world by playing Knowby's tape recording, emerging from the mirror in the cabin (a la his first appearance), tossing Ash aside and taking off. Unlike before, Evil Ash is closer in appearance to a zombified version of Ash, and has the ability to launch fireballs and shapeshift. Ultimately he was destroyed once more by the original. Beyond this, Evil Ash has appeared in comic spin-offs, appearing more akin to his decayed Army of Darkness version. In the comics, as he is the evil side of Ash separated, Ash is "the purest soul on Earth". He is one of the central antagonists in the A.O.D. comic books and is obsessed with defeating the original.

Deadite Ash

'Deadite Ash' is another story. In ' this version is referred to as 'Evil Ash' (and Sam calls him 'Bad Ash' in the game). Deadite Ash is Ash himself possessed by a Kandarian demon and turned into a monstrous version of himself with greatly increased strength and brutality. In "Evil Dead II", sunlight and the memory of Linda seems to drive the demon out (or possibly just 'back') and reverts him to normal. In ', Deadite Ash actually is shown to be a complete berserker, attacking anything in his path (namely the deadites) and with Ash having some degree of control, later on, over his actions, though the effects are short-term. Enemies in the last area of the game speak of how Ash is "already one of them", possibly a reference to this. The shotgun and chainsaw are augmented during this period also, the gun notably firing bolts of energy.

Ashley G. Williams

This Ash Williams is native to the Marvel Zombies universe (Earth-2149). A lowly employee of S-Mart, Ash takes up arms against the zombie superheroes. However, while distracted by seeing Ashley J. Williams, he is attacked and eaten by the zombie Howard the Duck (who said his brain tastes like chicken). Unlike regular Ash, this version apparently never got involved in the events surrounding the cabin or the Necronomicon, as he has both hands and lacks the regular's facial scars. Instead he feels that he was meant for greater things, but in the world of superheroes was never considered much in the public eye and stayed at S-Mart, seemingly living alone; this outcome is most especially decided by the fact that the Necronomicon, in the Marvel Zombies Universe, is kept in the private library of Doctor Doom. Like Ashley J. Williams, this Ash used both a shotgun harnessed to his back and a chainsaw. It is uncertain just how much he managed to do before Howard killed him, though he is shown encountering a zombified and duplicated Multiple Man and dismembering Hulkling's remains with his chainsaw.

Other appearances

Films

In 2005, there was talk of Ash appearing in a sequel to "Freddy Vs. Jason"; however, Sam Raimi eventually decided against it. Though tempted, Raimi thought it would be unfair to the other director to dictate rules for what Ash could and could not do, which would be required as Raimi has plans for Ash in the future. As of late 2006, a new crop of rumors had begun to circulate about a team-up of Freddy, Jason and Ash, but Raimi, New Line and Campbell have yet to make any comment. Campbell said of the original rumors that if he were to sign up, " [Ash] would have to win, or I wouldn't do it." [ [http://www.bloody-disgusting.com/news/742 Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash has a Sperm Problem?] ] When Campbell was at a booksigning, during a Q & A period a man asked him if he was going to make a Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash movie. Bruce Campbell replied "You're an idiot."Fact|date=August 2008 However, Wildstorm/Dynamite have announced that they would be presenting the sequel in comic form as the six-issue mini-series "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash". [ [http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=125014 WW: Chicago - "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" Coming in November] , 12 August, 2007, Newsarama]

An upcoming movie titled "My Name Is Bruce", set to be released in 2008, directed by and starring Bruce Campbell, as himself, being mistaken for the character of Ash.

Comics

In 1992, Dark Horse Comics released a three-issue miniseries written by Sam Raimi himself. Accompanying it is "Evil Dead (2008)" a comic from Dark Horse Comics retelling the story of the events of the original film. [ [http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=12044 Dark Horse Comics Solicitations for January 2008] ] In this version of the tale, Cheryl is not Ash's sister, but just a friend of his girlfriend Linda, and the book is called "Nacheron De'manto". The professor and his wife are depicted as younger adults rather than the middle-aged version seen in the film. For as-yet unknown reasons, the only character in the book that looks like their film counterpart is Ash. Every other character has been completely redesigned for this "expansion".

Dynamite Entertainment has made their own line of comics featuring the character. "Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes (2004)" a four-issue miniseries that picks up directly after the film's ending, taking place on the very day Ash and his friends travelled to Knowby's cabin, and leads into "Army of Darkness: Shop Till You Drop (Dead) (2005)" a four-issue miniseries. Another mini-series, Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator (2005), featuring Ash confined to a mental institution and forced to go up against Doctor Herbert West and his zombie minions, came out in 2005. In 2006, Dynamite started releasing an ongoing series, showing the events after the Re-Animator crossover.

"Marvel Zombies vs. The Army of Darkness (2007)" is a spin-off from this comic line (after Ash's 'death' in "Army of Darkness #13"), taking place in the Marvel Zombies universe. The series serves to fill in certain gaps left in the Marvel Zombies storyline that even "" didn't flesh out fully. The crossover lasts several issues, with Ash finally returning to his own world (and own comic) with "Army of Darkness: From the Ashes (2007)".

Dynamite has created several crossovers and side stories of their own. "Tales of the Army of Darkness (2006)" is a one shot comic featuring several stories about Ash and the Necronomicon. "Darkman vs. Army of Darkness (2006)", a four-issue miniseries features Ash teaming up with fellow Raimi created character Darkman to stop the Deadites. Ash then starred in "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash (2007)", a six-issue miniseries from Wildstorm and Dynamite Entertainment where Ash must face off against the legendary horror icons.

Musical

In is a loose musical adaptation of Evil Dead series, mostly combining the plot elements of "Evil Dead" and "Evil Dead II". The musical is notable for being the only time when Ash is not portrayed by Bruce Campbell, but instead Ryan Ward. The role in the musical is soon to be taken over by Michael Scott Wells.

References

External links

* [http://www.bruce-campbell.com/ The Official Bruce Campbell Website]
*imdb name|id=0132257|name=Bruce Campbell


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