Life on the set of “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” after three seasons, means that blood, guts, and other sorts of grossness have become routine. “It’s pretty normal for us to be in the cafeteria eating lunch and see people walk around in full Deadite makeup,” star Ray Santiago recently told IndieWire at SCAD aTVfest. (Deadites, of course, are the zombie-like creatures battled by Bruce Campbell’s iconic Ash and friends in the Starz series.)
But an even bigger part of daily life is the “splatter matter” that Santiago and his fellow cast members Dana DeLorenzo are regularly covered in the course of shooting the horror-comedy based on the “Evil Dead” films.
DeLorenzo wasn’t sure if it was she or executive producer Sam Raimi who first coined the term, but “splatter mattter” serves as a useful catch-all to describe the goop. “It’s not just blood — it’s brains, it’s viscera, it’s colons, it’s vomit. It’s all the things,” she said.
And as IndieWire learned, it’s a major part of cast life when the show’s in production, and not exactly for the reason you think.
“You’ve got to peel your clothes off,” Lindsay Farris, who joined the cast as a fellow fighter of the undead in Season 3, said. “We’re slightly embalmed, because there’s so much goo.”
“You’re ripping layers of skin off when you take your clothes off. People think that it’s just gooey, but it’s not the blood going on that’s the problem. It’s getting it off,” DeLorenzo added. “Because in five minutes it suddenly turns into that scene from ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin,’ where you’re turning your head and suddenly you’re Steve Carell shouting ‘AHHHH KELLY CLARKSON.’“
DeLorenzo turned to Farris and asked, “This is your first year doing this. Do you find that you were asking to be covered in more, just to stay wet?”
“That’s true,” he said, “particularly around lunchtime, when you can’t tell the difference between what you’re eating and where your arm begins. When things are falling out of your hair into your food, you’re like ‘actually, I’ll just have a salad today.'”
The procedure for cleaning up after a full dousing can vary, given the type of blood or “splatter matter” in play. For Arielle Carver-O’Neill, another new cast member for Season 3, she found that the easiest to deal with was “the cannon blood, the one where they have the big hose and they shoot you with it really hard. That one, I found just a normal shower with soap tends to work because it’s very watery. But most other ones depend on how long it’s been on your skin.”
When it comes time for a more thorough clean-up, here’s the secret solution, known to many actors and make-up departments: shaving cream.
At one point, Campbell had explained the science behind why this was the case to DeLorenzo — according to him, “in order to get the hair up, it lifts the goo,” she said.
That said, shaving cream isn’t a magic wand, especially depending on how soaked you get. “If it’s just your face, it’s one thing, but if you’re covered, it is a solid hour to an hour-and-a-half shower,” she said.
And that’s with “probably a full can of Barbisol or a generic [brand of shaving cream],” DeLorenzo contined. “The foam is the best — whatever is the biggest one you can get.”
The carnage continues at that point. “The shower after you wash it off is honestly just as, if not more, horrifying. I don’t know how it gets on the ceilings,” DeLorenzo said.
Plus, she said, “you will, without a doubt, miss a spot — particularly, I’ve found, inside your ear canal or behind your ear. So the fun part is a week later after that scene, when you haven’t been bloody for maybe a week if you’re lucky, you’re eating dinner with the cast and you order a medium rare steak and the waitress looks at you because you have blood coming behind your ear.”
As uncomfortable as it might be, the cast seem to be having a great time. Said DeLorenzo, “I love that we can still maintain what the fans love — the over-the-top gore, the over-the-top comedy — and add some stakes to that. We’re really grounding the show and taking these characters that we’ve come to learn about and love and watch them evolve.”
All that, and under gallons of “splatter matter.” It’s truly a feat.
“Ash vs. Evil Dead” Season 3 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on Starz.