Today I am ranking The Evil Dead franchise and let me just say, it has been a real treat. There isn’t one bad film. I think I cracked the code on what makes a perfect Evil Dead movie. It must have a solid blend of horror and camp. If it’s too one way or the other, it won’t work as well. This is reflected in my list below. As a whole, this series doesn’t stick to one specific formula, but it always involves the Necronomicon (The Book of the Dead), a plethora of Deadites and tons of gore. Please note, I will not be covering the television show. Without further ado – from best to worst – let’s get into it!
1.) Evil Dead II (1987)
In first place, we have Evil Dead II. This was everything the original Evil Dead wished it could be and more. As mentioned above, it has the perfect blend of camp and horror, with laugh-out-loud moments and creepy special effects. Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) returns to the original cabin, but this time, the plot jumps straight to the point. After discovering an audiotape left by a college professor, containing voices reading from the Book of the Dead, Ash’s girlfriend Linda, becomes possessed by evil spirits, as well as his hand. Ash soon discovers there is no escaping the woods. It’s a manic, wild ride that culminates in a cliffhanger, leading into the next film, Army of Darkness. I can see why Sam Raimi’s sequel has become so beloved since its inception.
2.) Evil Dead Rise (2023)
In second place, I have to put Evil Dead Rise, which was released just last month. I wrote up a spoiler review on it, which you can check out here. The film follows a woman who finds herself in the fight for her life when an ancient book gives birth to bloodthirsty demons that run amok in a Los Angeles apartment building. From the opening scene, this movie was a non-stop ride of gore, scares and demonic activity. It paired humour with genuine scares and as we all know by now, that is what makes an ideal Evil Dead installment. I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen, if you’ve the stomach for it!
3.) The Evil Dead (1981)
In third place, we have The Evil Dead – the original film from 1981. Ashley “Ash” Williams, his girlfriend and three pals, journey to a cabin in the woods for a fun night away. There, they find an old book, the Necronomicon, whose text reawakens the dead when it’s read aloud. The friends inadvertently release a flood of evil and must fight for their lives or become one of the Deadites. Ash watches the people he loves become possessed, forcing him to make a difficult decision before daybreak to save his own life. I really liked this movie but not as much as the other two mentioned above. I’m also not a huge fan of the sexual assault scene with the trees. That was a choice that did not age well. All in all, it paved the way for better installments to come.
4.) Evil Dead (2013)
In fourth place, we have the Evil Dead remake from 2013. It follows Mia, a drug addict who is determined to kick the habit. To that end, she asks her brother, his girlfriend, and their friends to accompany her to their family’s remote forest cabin to help her through the detoxing process. When one of them finds a mysterious Book of the Dead and reads aloud from it, an ancient demon is awakened. All hell breaks loose when the malevolent entity possesses Mia. Now, here me out. This movie is excellent. I thought it was so well done. The way we aren’t sure whether the main character is just suffering from withdrawal or is actually consumed by something demonic is genius. I remember being genuinely scared the first time I watched it. It’s intense and disgusting. In fact, this installment hit the record for using the most fake blood in cinematic history at 50,000 gallons! However, it is pure darkness without any sort of levity or balance. It doesn’t have that perfect blend, hence its position on my list.
5.) Army of Darkness (1992)
Last but certainly not least, we have Army of Darkness, the third and final installment in the original Evil Dead trilogy. Picking up where the sequel left off, Ash is transported back to medieval days, where he is captured by the dreaded Lord Arthur. Aided by the deadly chainsaw that has become his only friend, Ash is sent on a perilous mission to recover the Book of the Dead, a demonic tome that gives its owner the power to summon an army of ghouls. Where the remake was all darkness, Army of Darkness is all camp. In fact, it’s not really a horror film. It’s more of an adventure comedy. It’s also quite short. I truly enjoyed it but I had to place it in fifth position because it doesn’t match up to the rest.
Thank you so much for reading! How would you rank this franchise?
Peace & Love xoxo