Yes you read that title right….
The Evil Dead has had a complex history with both Universal and Halloween Horror Nights, which all started in 1989 when HHN was just pipe dream in the minds of the creatives at Universal.
Sam Raimi who was hot off the back of the initial success of the early Evil Dead movies was approached by Universal to direct their next feature. Raimi had tried to springboard from the success of these movies to direct his “ultimate” comic book movie. Universal knew that he had attempted to obtain the rights for The Shadow and had been in the running to direct the new Batman movie, losing out to Disney alumnus Tim Burton. When Universal approached Raimi with a deal to create and then direct his own comic book movie he grabbed at the chance. That movie would ultimately be Darkman, (who incidentally would appear at HHN2 in his own house), and it was released in 1990 to much praise and solid box-office returns.
After the success of this comic book movie, Universal were keen to see Raimi do another fantasy based movie though Raimi was more keen to make another Evil Dead movie. The Studio and the director meet in the middle and created Army of Darkness, the sequel to the two original movies. Creating the sequel would prove complex as with new distribution partner Universal on board (who had no handling of the original two movies) would see them having to step change the sequel away from traditional lodge in the woods setting, which was not as bigger deal as many people made out, as Raimi had plans to set the movie in the Middle Ages (which is what happened). The movie was not the success that Universal had hoped (though was profitable) and both director and studio parted ways amicably.
Away from the movies and TV shows the franchise picked up steam in the renaissance that the comic book industry was experiencing in the 1990s, all the while the movies were garnering cult statuses on VHS and later on DVD. Universal saw the popularity of the franchise pick up with horror fans and planned to have an boomstick handling Ash at HHN in the early 00s – this however never came to pass. It wasn’t until 2009 that the idea seriously came onto the table.
The idea was to create a house based on Army of Darkness where guests would follow in the time traveling footsteps of Ash all the while he protects his bunch of traveling companions from a fleet of gruesome deadites. The house promised to be gory, have splattering special effects, chainsaws a-plenty all wrapped up with elaborate sets with a healthy comedic twist. Unfortunately the house would never come to be.
2009 proved to be a bumper year. It would be a big year with big ideas and a much increased use of IPs. The house got planned and it got pitched. Initially, the house was thought to be an easy win for the event, a “quick add to the roster” but unfortunately it wouldn’t come off. As USF had obatining the rights to some very big names in horror for that year (SAW, Chucky; Wolfman movie to promote etc.) they decided that the house should be condensed into a single scene and placed in the Silver Screams house of that year.
Ash and the Pit Hag were in the scene but there was a problem, it was rumored that someone in Legal had spotted that the movie was not outrightly owned by Universal. On this basis and just to cautious it was rumored that the scene would be downplayed. To keep Ash in the house but without the full rights they altered the film poster seen in the connecting scene leading into the room – the movie was given the title “Medieval Dead” instead (which was the actual original name for the film!) Furthermore the prop located next to the poster was the Necronomicon from the film – especially made by USF’s prop department. HHN fans have argued whether this was in fact Ash or not. For me, it was, the name was pulled but the detail wasn’t – that scene had Ash – the Ash we know.
Skip forward to 2013 and Universal were keen to circle back on their original idea. Unfortunately, TriStar along with Raimi were about to release a new reboot of the series (what with reboots being the ‘in’ thing in the last few years). Universal were supposedly counter offered and the new reboot was accepted. In 2013 on both coasts we received the rebooted movie house which made fine houses. And although the movie was not a huge success, the houses proved to be very popular.
Shifting to 2015, the same production team of Raimi and Campbell wanted to make a sequel to their original movie franchise. Countless comic books, video games and even a popular musical had ensured the brand was very much ‘undead’. For whatever reason, the will they had manifested into a brand new TV show. Universal, however were not on board. It appears that shortly before this time, Universal started making preparations to make a sequel to Army of Darkness but without Raimi or Campbell – an ability they had being that they handled just the third film in the franchise. Likely due to this no mention of the third film would be seen in the new TV show. Bloody Disgusting wrote about the issue last year:
In fact, when we talked to producer Robert Tapert back in April, he eluded to this…“’Army of Darkness’ doesn’t exist,” says Tapert before clarifying a bit. “Well, certainly Ash went through a bad experience, but we’re not really referencing it [on the show], specifics from that, but he certainly has that in his memory.”
However, after the show was a hit, the legal issue was quickly resolved, Universal became on board and now the third series is in production and will make reference to AoD. Which leads us to 2017 where Ash will once again return to HHN and finally get the house we have been waiting on for so many years!
Are you excited for the Ash Vs The Evil Dead house? Let us know in the comments!