Ash Williams is back, and he's still battling some really nasty evil spirits. Yes, the sometimes clueless hero of the "Evil Dead" franchise is now the protagonist of a new Starz series, "Ash vs. Evil Dead," debuting Oct. 31 at 9 p.m. And Bruce Campbell returns to play the man whose wooden hand can be retrofitted to hold a chain saw.
"Ash is the only good guy in the horror world," says Campbell of the popular character, who first appeared in 1981's "The Evil Dead." "As much of an idiot as he is, he is a mostly innocent guy trying to do good things, and I think the average guy says, 'That could be me.' "
Known for their over-the-top gore content, the series -- which includes "Evil Dead II" (1987), "Army of Darkness" (1992) and a 2013 reboot of the original -- also features wildly humorous moments. It's this combination that has made the films both successful and influential.
"The humor is a way to subliminally tell people this is entertainment," says Campbell. "We're not out to warp your child's life and give them nightmares. If there's a quip to be said after you blow a head off, why not?"
This time out, Ash is living la vida bachelor in a cozy Airstream, while working as a rather inept stock boy at a local chain store. But when the dead return and threaten humanity, he and two friends decide to take the fight to the bad guys.
"Ash is responsible for the re-emergence of the dead," says Campbell, "and he has to put the genie back in the bottle, which will prove nearly impossible. It will be an evolving, Joseph Campbell-like journey."
It will also involve the kind of horror Bruce Campbell likes. Which means he's done with the current rage for torture porn flicks like the "Saw" series.
"Let's move on," he says about those films. "Within the genre, there are all different ways you can go. I like to see variety. The art of making someone jump out of their seat is difficult. Building suspense, creating a nauseating atmosphere; those are things filmmakers should focus on."