All 5 Evil Dead Films Ranked In Order Of Greatness

The Evil Dead franchise is also smart in how it spaces its projects out. The original three films in Raimi and Campbell’s trilogy had six years between each installment; you can be confident that there was never any sense of overwhelming Evil Dead fatigue. The franchise has been reborn both on TV and in video games, and a 2013 reboot/continuation film kept the spirit of the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis (the franchise’s ever-inciting book of the dead) alive and well.

Back in 2023, the franchise was back in theaters for its first big screen installment in a decade. And while Raimi and Campbell aren’t directing or starring (respectively) in Evil Dead Rise, they’re both involved as producers—and with an 88% score on Rotten Tomatoes from critics (and 86% from audiences), the newest installment of Evil Dead lore is just as fun (and brutally violent) as the series has ever been.

Now, things can get a little tricky, because not all of the Evil Dead franchise entries are directly connected. The bulk of our piece below will simply focus on the films in the order in which they were released—which we always recommend when it comes to watching a series in any order. But there’s also the fact that Evil Dead (2013) is in a different continuity from the rest of the franchise, and Evil Dead Rise (2023) continues in the original.

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

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.)

The complete Evil Dead series in chronological order:

The Evil Dead (1981)

Evil Dead II (1987)

Army of Darkness (1993)

Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015 – 2018) *

Evil Dead Rise (2023)

*TV series, not a film

And, separately:

Evil Dead (2013)

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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Stevie Flavio
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