Few franchises have a fanbase as dedicated as Evil Dead.
Whether you’re talking about superfans of actor Bruce Campbell or film buffs who will watch anything director Sam Raimi has touched, people take Evil Dead seriously.
Which is why it’s probably a bad idea to try ranking the franchise. But hey, we said we’re going to do it, so we’re going to do it.
We’re not just stopping at the Evil Dead movies, either. We’re ranking every instance of Evil Dead as it appears on screen, including movies and TV shows.
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5. Evil Dead
The only entry on this list to not star series mainstay Bruce Campbell coincidentally (not really) finds itself at the very bottom of the ranking.
This Evil Dead drops Ash Williams in favor of a group of generic, bog-standard horror movie stereotypes. And while that in itself is a stark mistake, it’s not the only reason many fans dislike it. It lacks originality and smart characters, and relies on cheap scares.
But it has its good aspects. Writer and director Fede Alvarez made a competent horror movie here. It just isn’t in in the spirit of Evil Dead. It has the gore, but none of the humor or charm.
Granted, the original 1981 The Evil Dead was more brutally horrific than its sequels, but even then it had a lightness of heart that just isn’t present here.
This is the one that kicked off the whole franchise, and as is often the case with horror series, it’s not the best that the franchise has to offer. (We do think it’s essential viewing, though.)
Unlike the sequels that followed, The Evil Dead mostly plays as a straight horror movie. To its credit, it does this fairly well.
There’s a creeping sense of dread that builds up over the course of the movie. At first it’s a few friends heading to a cabin for the weekend and they find a strange old book in the cellar.
They read aloud from it (because of course they do). Then things take a downward turn.
It has hints of the humor that would come to define the series later on, but The Evil Dead stands out for its horrifyingly brutal scenes.
If you’re a horror movie fan, this movie is a great place to start with the franchise. If you’re looking for more of the comedic aspects, you can safely avoid this one.
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Fans were wary but hopeful when Ash vs. Evil Dead was first announced. There had been talk of a proper third Evil Dead movie for years, but it never happened.
And even if Ash vs. Evil Dead made it to TV, would it be any good?
By the final moments of Ash vs. Evil Dead’s first episode, it was clear that the franchise would work just fine on TV.
The second season was a bit of a let down compared to the first season, but it was still good. And the series rebounded with its third season, which is why it was unfortunate that the series was canceled shortly before the season finale aired.
Even if you don’t enjoy horror movies, you’ll still have a pretty good time watching Army of Darkness. Unless you aren’t a fan of slapstick comedy, in which case you’ll probably hate this movie.
While this is technically the third Evil Dead movie, it takes place in the Middle Ages—where Bruce Campbell’s Ash Williams has been magically transported following the events of Evil Dead 2.
Army of Darkness is a mashup of horror, action, and comedy, but it’s primarily a comedy above anything else. Bruce Campbell has a knack for physical comedy, which works as well here as it does in any other entry in the franchise.
1. Evil Dead 2
Evil Dead 2 is the perfect storm of the series.
The Evil Dead leans too far toward the horrific. Army of Darkness takes a few too many steps down the road to wherever The Three Stooges live. Evil Dead lost the heart of the franchise.
But Evil Dead 2 strikes the right balance between everything.
The best part is that Evil Dead 2 revisits the events of the first movie within the first 15 minutes or so, with slight alterations. This means you can watch and enjoy it even if you’ve never seen The Evil Dead—you won’t miss any key info.
And even though Evil Dead 2 never gets as bloody or brutal as either The Evil Dead or Evil Dead, it still has legitimately spooky scenes that are tempered by moments of physical comedy.
More Comedy Horror Movies
We’ve only ranked what’s available so far.
According to Sam Raimi, another entry in the series (titled Evil Dead Rise) is on the way. Bruce Campbell will be involved as a producer, but he won’t be reprising his iconic roll as Ash Williams, which already has some fans nervous.
We’ll just have to wait and see how that film turns out, assuming it ever does turn out. In the meantime, there are plenty of other horror-comedy movies worth checking out.