The 5 Evil Dead Movies, Ranked

From Sam Raimi's original duology and "Army of Darkness" to Fede Álvarez's 2013 reboot and Lee Cronin's new "Evil Dead Rise," this is Evil Dead ranked.
The Evil Dead Movies Ranked: "Evil Dead" (2013), "The Evil Dead," "Evil Dead Rise," "Evil Dead II," and "Army of Darkness"
(Clockwise from bottom left): "Evil Dead" (2013), "The Evil Dead," "Evil Dead Rise," "Evil Dead II," and "Army of Darkness"
Courtesy Everett Collection

There’s a kind of shaggy glory to Evil Dead: Sam Raimi’s demonic scary movie series spawned from the writer/director’s triumphant indie horror marvel from 1981. Starring childhood friend Bruce Campbell and shot in the Tennessee wilderness with next to no budget, the inaugural outing with Raimi’s Necronomicon (aka Book of the Dead) and its flesh-ripping Deadites — also known by the original film’s title, “The Evil Dead” — established a formula for four more films with immeasurable influence on skin-peeling, tendon-snapping, chainsaw-revving pop culture as we know it.

The first film sees final guy Ash Williams (Campbell), his sister Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), his girlfriend Linda (Betsy Baker), and friends Scott (Richard DeManincor) and Shelly (Theresa Tilly) heading out for a stay at a remote cabin. Once there, a cursed book and tape summons a demonic presence that slowly begins to feast on the souls of the unlucky travelers one by one. It was a schlocky, but surprisingly effective affair: enough to hoist Ash, the Deadites, and Raimi to unending genre fame, and create a pattern worth repeating four more times.

“Evil Dead II” (also known as “Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn”) excited the midnight movie masses in 1987, when the success of Raimi’s feature directorial debut earned him financial backing from an impressed producer and resulted in one of cinema’s greatest horror comedies. The beefed up budget allowed Raimi to burn through the beats of the first film at a blistering pace (a quirky requirement of a thorny IP dispute, which means the duology doesn’t make sense as a continuous timeline) and churn out an action-packed extension incorporating the series’ most beloved elements.

This critically includes the first utterance of final guy Ash Williams’ catchphrase (“Groovy!”), and the supernatural time-jump stinger that made it possible to set 1992’s over-the-top goofy second sequel “Army of Darkness” in the Medieval Times. (The film was supposed to be called “Medieval Dead,” until one of those completely annoying executive marketing decisions apparently killed that idea.)

Writer/director Fede Álvarez, co-writer Rodo Sayagues, and scream queen Jane Levy gave the series a hardcore reboot in 2013, matched a decade later with Lee Cronin’s newly released, splatter-ific “Evil Dead Rise.” Here are all five Evil Dead chapters ranked, excluding TV series “Ash vs. Evil Dead.”

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