As sequels go, it's long been sitting on the top of the pile marked 'pipe dream'. Frankly, there seemed to be more chance of playing pat-a-cake with Ash's severed hand than of seeing Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell collaborate on Evil Dead IV.
But, lately, with excitement about all things evil and dead building to fever pitch thanks to the forthcoming Evil Dead remake, things have changed. A couple of weeks ago, while promoting Oz The Great And Powerful, Raimi let slip that he and his brother, Ivan Raimi, were set to begin work on writing the fourth instalment of the Evil Dead series. Producer Rob Tapert confirmed as much the other day - and today, Empire spoke to Ash himself, Bruce Campbell, who confirmed that it's very much on the trio's radar.
"The reception to this movie [Fede Alvarez' remake] has been pretty good so far, so it encouraged Sam and I to go, 'well crap, maybe we should dust the old chainsaw off', " laughs Campbell. "If this movie helps us make another Army Of Darkness – Army Of Darkness 2 – then so be it."
So, it would seemt that this isn't so much Evil Dead IV as a direct continuation of Raimi's goofy 1992 medieval dead flick, Army Of Darkness, in which Ash - the one-handed, chainsaw-wieldin', shotgun-blastin' hero who's the scourge of Deadites everywhere - was transported back to ancient England to face off against an undead menace. "Evil Dead IV, Army Of Darkness 2... however you want to slice it," says Campbell. "It's random ideas in Sam's head. Let's not go crazy here. He's just finished doing Oz, and he's going to take some time off and he says he's going to work on it this summer with his brother. He could be smoking cigars at a lakeside cabin for all I know, or he might actually be working, who knows?"
Although the brothers Raimi will be in charge of the story direction for Evil - sorry, Army Of Darkness 2 - Empire asked Campbell, who'll once again star and produce, where he thought the movie might pick up. Famously, Army Of Darkness has two endings - one in which Ash returns to his own time and faces off against a Deadite in the S-Mart where he works; and the other, original ending in which Ash winds up in post-apocalyptic London. Which would Campbell choose to kickstart the sequel?
"I would think the post-Apocalyptic because it gives great possibilities for an Omega Man movie, and who he might be fighting against," he says. "It would be a very interesting world. But I'm fine either way. I'm sure Sam will concoct some ridiculous story and an outrageous journey, so I don't really care where it starts and ends.
"The fun thing is working again with Sam Raimi," he continues. "That's the only reason to do these incredibly difficult movies than work for a guy who you really like working with and who you respect."
Campbell confirms that there was never any prospect of Ash appearing in the Evil Dead remake for one very simple reason; a reason that makes Army Of Darkness 2 a very real prospect. I don't want Ash to be directed by anyone other than Sam Raimi. He has ownership of that character, so it encouraged us." But he does say that he's looking forward to picking up the chainsaw again, with Ash twenty years older, but not necessarily wiser. "He'd still be an idiot and a loser and a blagger," laughs Campbell. "I look forward to him coming back and screwing things up all over again!"
Evil Dead is out in the UK on April 18.