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All Evil Dead Films, Ranked

Evil Dead

"Hail To The King, Baby."

By Robert Delfino

With the recent release of Lee Cornin’s, Evil Dead Rise, it seems natural to do a ranking of all the Evil Dead films that have been released so far. Just as a disclaimer, all of these films are great in their own way. However, given the title of this article, the TV show, Ash vs. Evil Dead, will not be included in this ranking since shows can’t do what movies do and vice versa. So, without further adieu. Get out your boomsticks and see where each Evil Dead movie ranks in the franchise.

5. Evil Dead Rise (2023) Directed by Lee Cornin

Evil Dead RiseFrom watching the trailer for this film alone, it’s instantly clear the film is going for a new take on the series. The setting is no longer in an old cabin in the woods but rather an apartment complex in Los Angeles. However, the film is not completely deprived of one. In the opening, there is a scene that happens a day after the main plot of the film that takes place at a cabin with characters unrelated to the main ones of the film. But after that, it’s all at the apartment complex. It shows that you can still tell an Evil Dead story that takes place in one location but have it be somewhere else. As for the plot, it’s pretty solid. A possessed mother wants to become one with her family, literally. And the way the mother, Ellie, becomes possessed was really unique by having the wires of an elevator in the building take over her body rather than tree branches. Fans are pleasantly surprised by each new interaction of Evil Dead where the original team behind it is not heavily involved, which hopefully continues, assuming there’s going to be more of Evil Dead to come.

4. Evil Dead (2013) Directed by Fede Álvarez

Evil DeadLike with many reboots, most fans were a tad skeptical going into this one. One never knows if the new people behind the franchise know what they’re doing or will completely miss the point. Fortunately, this reboot was very competent. While there are a lot of similarities, such as it taking place in an old cabin in the woods, locking a possessed friend in the basement, and the loss of hands, the premise was really neat in having it be about helping a friend kick her heroin addiction. That’s also partly what keeps the group from leaving because they want to make sure that she stays clean. Then she starts having withdrawals and hallucinations, which leads her to see visions of her demonic doppelgänger, which her friends don’t take seriously, because they think they are sideffects of getting clean. That’s what sets up the rest of the movie. Evil Dead (2013) is one of the most gruesome and bloody movies of the past ten years. This was the first film not to feature Ash Williams as the main protagonist, and it still manages to work as an Evil Dead film without him. It also includes one of the best in-your-face openings in horror.

3. Army of Darkness (1992) Directed by Sam Raimi

Evil DeadArmy of Darkness quite possibly takes the farthest departure from the entire series. There are very few scary moments in this film, and it feels more like a hero’s journey with cartoon physics. Also, the slapstick comedy the second film put forth is turned up to eleven here. There is some creepiness, but it feels more in line with a Tim Burton film, which is likely thanks to Danny Elfman’s “March of the Dead” theme. But there are still things in it that make it a true Evil Dead film, such as the Necronomicon, Deadites, and plenty of carnage. Army of the Dead is also the first film in the franchise to take us away from the cabin to a new period, the Middle Ages. Audiences enjoyed seeing Ash interact with people of this time. There are great one-liners too, like “Gimme some sugar baby” and “Hail to the king, baby.” These are only one of the reasons why Army of Darkness is a cult classic so many years later. 

2. The Evil Dead (1981) Directed by Sam Raimi

Evil DeadThe one that started it all. Sam Raimi had very little to work with when he was making this film, and it turned out to look more low-budget than maybe he envisioned. The crew and actors were also living out of the cabin they were shooting in. But people loved the finished product, and it launched one of the best horror franchises in film history.  It also introduced fans to one of the most iconic protagonists in horror, Ash Williams. Although, he didn’t really become what we now know him for until the second film. Nonetheless, he’s still an important character. It also features the Oldsmobile, which is the very one used in Ash vs. the Evil Dead. While people love the original movies for their combination of horror and comedy, the first Evil Dead has more focus on the latter. There are some genuinely scary moments in this film. A lot of it has to do with the amazing camera work. Evil Dead perfectly exemplifies that you can make something great with very little.

1. Evil Dead 2 (1987) Directed by Sam Raimi

Evil DeadEvil Dead 2 is the perfect Evil Dead film because it’s the right blend between comedy and horror. This is also where Ash Williams truly becomes the man fans know and love. In the first film, he was just some guy who happened to be the last survivor of the group visiting that cabin. But here is where he gets a lot of his character which would later become synonymous with the series. It’s where he gets his chainsaw hand, his boomstick, and of course his signature catch phrase, “Groovy.” As for the film itself, it is pretty similar to the first but with much higher production value. And this time it’s all about Ash. The film’s opening is a flashback to the first film which doesn’t last very long. After that it jumps straight into the action and doesn’t miss a beat. Everything here is top notch which is why it’s the best.

Evil Dead 2 (1987) Official Renaissance Pictures Trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Robert Delfino is a writer based in San Jose, California. He loves films of all genres made by people who enjoy the craft of movie making.