The Evil Dead franchise is a horror classic that has stood the test of time. From the early days of Sam Raimi’s low-budget gore-fest to the more recent adaptations, the franchise has maintained a level of quality and consistency that is rarely found in the horror genre. With all the films in the franchise being something special in their own right, it’s time to rank them in order of greatness. So grab your boomstick and chainsaw, and let’s take a look at every film in the Evil Deadfranchise and see which one reigns supreme.
Hot at the Shop:
1. Evil Dead 2 (1987)
What can be said about Evil Dead 2 that hasn’t already been said? This film is a masterpiece of horror-comedy, and it’s still just as effective today as it was when it first came out in 1987. Sam Raimi and team were firing on all cylinders here; they had a larger budget to play with, which allowed them to really expand the universe they had created in the first Evil Dead.
Evil Dead 2 is a perfect example of how to do a requel (a sequel that’s also a remake) right. It takes the basic premise of the first film– Ash and his friends going to a remote cabin and unleashing an ancient evil, and amps everything up to 11. The special effects are wildly effective; from the stop-motion animation of the possessed hand to the hilarious, the cackling deer head and lampshade, to the over-the-top gore.
But what really makes Evil Dead 2 shine is the signature comedic tone that Raimi and lead actor Bruce Campbell established here. Campbell’s performance as Ash is iconic, and it’s impossible not to root for him as he fights off the Deadites with his chainsaw and boomstick.
This film is an absolute staple of the horror genre, and barely, just barely clinches the number 1 spot for its level of camp and re-watchability.
The original Evil Deadis a classic for a reason. Made on a shoestring budget by a young, passionate Sam Raimi (in his feature directorial debut no less), this film is a testament to what can be accomplished with hard work, determination, and a little bit of duct tape.
The premise is simple: five college students go to a remote cabin in the woods and accidentally awaken an ancient evil. But what sets this film apart is Raimi’s inventive, frenetic camera work. He uses a variety of techniques, from Dutch angles to POV shots, to make the audience feel like they’re right in the middle of the undead action.
Sure. The special effects in Evil Deadare a little rough around the edges by today’s standards, but they’re still effective. The possessed Linda is particularly creepy, and the finale is a bloodbath that has to be seen to be believed. Besides, the horror genre has never been about polish. It’s been about creativity, ingenuity, and seeing gallons upon gallons of blood.
But what really makes Evil Dead stand out is the passion behind it. Raimi poured his heart and soul into this film, and it shows in every frame. It’s a reminder that sometimes the best horror comes from a group of friends with a camera and a dream.
3. Evil Dead (2013)
When it was announced that there was going to be a remake of Evil Dead, many fans were understandably skeptical. How could anyone possibly replace Bruce Campbell as Ash? But Fede Álvarez’s remake proved that it’s possible to take a beloved franchise and put a new spin on it.
Unlike the original Raimi films, which had a signature comedic tone, the 2013 Evil Deadis downright terrifying. Álvarez takes the basic premise of the original, a group of friends in a remote cabin and a little of that razzle dazzle demonic possession, and cranks up the stove. The Deadites are genuinely disturbing, and the gore is some of the most intense in recent memory.
But what really sets the 2013 Evil Dead apart is its cast. Jane Levy is perfectly cast as Mia Allen, a modern-day “Ash Williams” who nails both the chilling Deaditevillain and chainsaw-wielding heroine. The supporting cast is also strong, with standout performances from Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Elizabeth Blackmore, and Lou Taylor Pucci.
The 2013 Evil Dead is a great example of how to do a remake right. It pays homage to the original while also putting its own spin on things, and it’s a terrifying ride from start to finish.
4. Army of Darkness (1992)
Coming at number four in our ranking of the Evil Dead franchise is the one and only Army of Darkness. Taking the story back to medieval times was a stroke of genius, giving us knights, skeleton armies, and a chance for Ash to finally use his boomstick with reckless abandon.
But let’s be real, Army of Darkness is a far cry from the low-budget horror roots of the original Evil Dead. It’s more of a fantastical comedy than a horror film, with Ash spouting off catchphrases left and right, and even taking on an Evil Ash doppelganger in a hilariously over-the-top sword fight.
Some might argue that Army of Darkness is too goofy, too overblown to be a true sequel to the original films. But I would argue that the film’s off-the-wall approach is exactly what makes it so enjoyable. It’s a sequel in the vein of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, taking the original premise and cranking up the absurdity to new and surprising heights.
5. Evil Dead Rise (2023)
The most recent addition to the Evil Dead franchise, Evil Dead Rise, may not reach the insane heights of the earlier films, but it’s still a solid entry. Lee Cronin takes the series in a different direction, focusing on two sisters, played by Alyssa Sutherland and Lily Sullivan, who are forced to fight off a horde of Deadites in a high-rise apartment building.
While the film may not have the same level of humor as the Raimi films or the intense scares of the 2013 remake, it’s still a fun ride. The Deadites are suitably creepy, and the performances are all solid, particularly Sutherland as the matriarch and head Deadite.
Evil Dead Rise is a successful stand-alone film, but it’s also a reminder of just how consistent the franchise has been over the years. From the zany requel Evil Dead 2to the terrifying 2013 remake, this franchise has always delivered the goods. Here’s hoping we get more Evil Dead in the future. Evil Dead Rises Again, maybe?