Favorite Fictional Characters, #82: Ash Williams
My first taste of the Evil Dead movies came at a Splendor cast party in Angus Merry's basement twenty-four years ago. The original Evil Dead seemed standard cabin-in-the-woods horror fare, demons, zombies, yadda yadda. But sometime during the sequel, Evil Dead II, Bruce Campbell became Bruce Campbell, and the horror began to give way, grudgingly, to comedy. By the time of the iconic third film, Army of Darkness, Ash has fully shed his everyman cloak of incompetent victimhood and instead embraces the goofiness of it all. He navigates the world with a weary cynicism, animating only when some iteration of Deadite threatens.
The role of Ash Williams gives Bruce Campbell full latitude to release every ounce of ham he possesses - and he possesses a lot. His treatment of the denizens of the 14th century ranges from dismissive to patronizing to exploitative, and it's all deliriously funny. The one-liners, snide asides, and charmless put-downs are as classic as his chainsaw prosthetic and legendary boomstick, even if some of it is just pillow talk, baby.