I don’t want to “geek out” when I talk about Ash vs. The DC Dead. It might be embarrassing someday. But it’s hard not to be impressed with director Rosenthal’s ability to find the perfect combination of source material to reference. While the short has David VonHippchen’s Ash facing off against big blue DC super-anti-hero Lobo (Derek Russo), the most interesting stuff isn’t Russo or their showdown. Russo’s fine, but he’s not great. It’s a bad part. Rosenthal just needs the right antagonist for VonHippchen to make an impressive short–a lot of DC Dead, if it isn’t intentional, is real showy. In a good way. Rosenthal knows what he’s doing and he should be showy, because he’s inviting the viewer to be impressed.
And even though DC Dead references the “Arrow” TV show, the Green Lantern movie, the Tim Burton Batman movies–not to mention Spider-Man (female lead Lindsay Croucher is Gwen Stacy)–the coolest thing about DC Dead is its Evil Dead sensibilities. Rosenthal’s able to get away with questionable effects because he’s doing a low budget Evil Dead movie. You always give those the benefit of the doubt (because you always have).
Only VonHippchen doesn’t get the best arc; Croucher goes from his annoyed sidekick to his savior (with a wonderful, appropriate final development) and she’s pretty good in the part. There’s some inherent silliness it occasionally stumbles over, but Croucher and Rosenthal work through it.
Ash vs. The DC Dead is awesome. But it’s for a limited audience. Rosenthal’s really good at filmmaking, which can be appreciated without understanding the minutiae, and makes it worth a look alone. You just aren’t going to grin as much as you would if you got the references.
Written, directed, photographed and edited by Brian Rosenthal; music by Karl Anderson; production designer, David VonHippchen; produced by Duke Stephenson.
Starring David VonHippchen (Ash Williams), Derek Russo (Lobo), Lindsay Croucher (Gwen Stacy), Joshua Borcyk (Green Arrow) and Marian Gonzalez (Cassie).