It’s pretty common for horror actors to come into contact with synthetic blood and get a little dirty from time to time. It’s part of the job. But it’s highly likely that no cast is exposed to as much obscene, over-the-top amounts of gore as the cast of Ash vs Evil Dead, the hit “splatstick” comedy-horror series on Starz. Being blood-soaked head to toe is business as usual for Dana DeLorenzo, who pretty often gets doused with truckloads of the red stuff and viscera just for a single shot, often to the point where it’s beyond gratuitous.
She’s definitely no damsel in distress, and never really was. She is a damsel who causes distress for the pesky Deadites standing in her way, and DeLorenzo plays her to perfection and has undeniable chemistry with Campbell and co-star Ray Santiago.
The first Evil Dead film came out a couple of years before you were born. How familiar were you with the franchise while growing up?
I was definitely a horror fan. I was very familiar with the franchise and saw Army of Darkness first in high school. I’ve come to learn, even before getting this job, that the Evil Dead movies are a rite of passage for boys. So in high school, there were always a bunch of guys quoting it constantly. [Deepens voice] “First, you wanna kill me, now you wanna kiss me. [Spits] Blow.” [Laughs] I asked my two best guy friends, “Why do you guys keep saying that? Where’s that from?” and they were like [deepens voice] “Don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it.” Finally, they sat me down, and I watched it, and I got it, but I feel like I really got an appreciation for that movie when I saw it again in college, after I had seen Bruce in Bubba Ho-Tep. I was like, “Hey, there’s that Bruce Campbell guy!” And then I went and saw Evil Dead 2, but I had not seen the first one.
This is so embarrassing, but I’ve admitted it before. Growing up, I was a huge horror person, or horror kid, I should say. I read all the Goosebumps books, there was this show I watched on Nickelodeon—I’m aging myself [laughs]—but it was called Are You Afraid of the Dark? I have to admit that I am an embarrassment as an adult to my 10-year-old horror self. Like, I was a badass horror person when I was 10.
"When I go through border patrol—even though I inspect everything—somehow, I always wear the piece of clothing or have a bag that border patrol then looks at that’s covered in dry blood that I must’ve missed."
I found it to be so truly terrifying because for me, in any horror film, the scariest stuff for me that gives me chills is when a demon or any horror villain is maniacal—when they giggle, and they enjoy torturing. Oh, God—I’m haunted by it. Here’s the spoiler alert. Any time I have to be scared as Kelly—that’s not acting. In fact, I often ruin shots because I am a jumpy person in general. I’m dead serious. Like, a toaster oven could go off, and I jump and fall to the ground and scream. [Laughs] So, I’ve absolutely ruined so many shots, even though I know a Deadite is going to blast through the window.
In terms of awkward stuff that’s happened to me, yeah, all the time. When I go through security, especially border patrol—even though I inspect everything—somehow, I always wear the piece of clothing or have a bag that border patrol then looks at that’s covered in dry blood that I must’ve missed. And trying to explain that and the myriad of questions—by the end, I’m like, “Can I just go now? I just flew 15 hours.” [Laughs] But no matter how many showers you take, I can tell you, there’s always a spot you miss. It’s usually behind the ear or some place you can’t see, that somebody else, like a server at a restaurant, will happen to notice and point out as you’re ordering a steak medium rare, and it's very awkward conversation.
The fan base for this franchise is very passionate and loyal, and you’ve probably already experienced the love at various horror conventions. What’s the response been like for Kelly, since she’s now a big part of the franchise as Ash’s female sidekick?
I love this question because, first of all, I have to thank every fan for giving me a job. Because the only reason the show exists is because of the lifelong Evil Dead fans who kept pestering Sam and Bruce at every other movie junket they had. “Hey, when are you going to make the next Evil Dead movie?” And so, this show was made. It was a bloody love letter to the fans. I, personally, was terrified at the start that a franchise about one man was suddenly going to have sidekicks, and what would these fans think of that? It could’ve gone a very different direction. I’m so grateful, and it is my greatest joy that not only has my character been embraced by the fans, but I have gotten to do these conventions and Comic-Cons. And I’ll be perfectly honest: I’m more excited to meet them than I think that they are to meet me. Like, they’re the ones who end up backing away slowly because I’m so intense and so, [screams loudly] “Ah, thank you so much!” You know, a little bit too intense.
Bruce has been a part of the franchise for over 35 years now. Do you see yourself doing it as long as him?
When we shoot this show, there are tough days, and there are fun days, but when you get the response from the fans, and you feel their enthusiasm, and they’re quoting it, and they’re asking you all these questions, it reminds you of why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me, that’s what it’s about. That’s why I wanted to be an actor and entertainer. I want to bring that joy to people. If by getting covered in blood and guts and viscera, and getting my head dunked in a bedpan by a perverted, demonic puppet—if that brings people joy, then I will continue to do it as long as they clamor for it.
And I love these fans so much, and I’m indebted to them. I will happily meet with them for as long as they’re interested, but I have a feeling I’m going to continue to scare them away, not in the horror way, but in the “Why is she so creepy?” and the “Why will she not let go of my hands?” sort of way. Watching them dress up—they’re doing the cosplay now as Kelly Maxwell—has blown my mind. I’m so humbled by it. I’m so lucky to be on the show, and I’ll keep doing it for as long as they’ll have me.
Ash vs Evil Dead returns Sunday, Feb. 25, on Starz.