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Ash Williams (Asylum)

Ash vs Evil Dead
by yo go re

Crazy? I was crazy once. They locked me in a rubber room. I died there. Worms ate me. Worms? Did you say worms? I hate worms. They make me crazy.

There's a common trope that shows up in a lot of works where the character we've been following for a while suddenly finds themselves in an often mundane mental care institution, with a healthcare professional trying to convince them the events of the series we know are simply delusions of a plain human character. This can work in a movie or novel, a one-off setting where the continuity doesn't have to extend beyond what we're seeing right now, but no matter how many times TV shows attempt to do the same thing, it never works. We've been watching Buffy for six years now, no one's ever going to buy the idea that everything's been in her head all along.

It doesn't even work for Ashley J. Williams, a character who has never exactly seemed mentally stable. The Ash vs. the Evil Dead Season 2 episode "Delusion" saw Ash hospitalized and informed that he'd been instituitionalized since killing all his friends at that cabin back in 1982. Which is a fine set-up, but still requires a lot of ignoring the first three movies and season-and-a-half of the TV show to believe. No surprise he'd see through it and go on a violent rampage.

Since a (fairly) stable Ash in a (fairly) pristine straitjacket wouldn't have been a very exciting toy, NECA went more rugged. He's dirty and covered in a bit of blood. The sleeves have been ripped away, so he can wield his chainsaw and wear the holster for his shotgun, and overall the restraint he's wearing looks like some strange Victorian throwback - like Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula or something. Inside its torn sleeve, his left arm is bare, but his right still has a long white undershirt covering it. Or maybe gray, if that's the same hospital gown visibile hanging under the lower edge of the jacket.

On the Ultimate figure, Ash was looking pretty old and haggard. Considering how notoriously calm, relaxing, and stress-free being involuntarily committed to an insane asylum is, it makes sense that this Ash looks a bit younger. The figure has two heads, both with unkempt, jet-black hair: one serious, one with the tiniest little smirk ever. The difference is minimal, and there are better things the plastic could have been spent on.

Ash has his chainsaw attached to his hand, of course, but it's not removable (or at least, there's nothing to replace it if you do remove it). And he's got his shotgun, because why shouldn't someone residing in an asylum have access to heavy firearms? But you know what they could have included instead of a head with negligible differences? Ashy Slashy, the therapy puppet Dr. Peacock used in the hospital. NECA released prop replicas of it, so we know they know it exists; why not include one here for the toy to use?

Asylum Ash has typical articulation for a 2018 NECA figure: a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, double-swivel-hinge elbows, swivel right wrist, swive/hinge left wrist, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and balljointed ankles. The elbows work particularly well on this figure, because they mostly get hidden up in the torn sleeves of the straitjacket, pieces which can add to the dynamism of some poses when they look like they're flailing around as he moves. The left hand is shaped to hold the shotgun, as it should be.

Despite its title Ash vs. Evil Dead was an ensemble show, with Ash being helped by Pablo and Kelly, two young people who get drawn into his world of, well, evil dead. Given that, it's disappointing NECA was never able to make either of them in this line. They did make a nice selection of monsters, and three different Ashes, so it wasn't a bad offering overall, just... incomplete. That seemed to be their style at the time. Lucky for us, Asylum Ash is a weird and unpredictable thing to include, but the toy is made nicely.

-- 03/06/22

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