‘Evil Dead’ Movies Ranked from the Worst to the Best

Sam Raimi might be the man behind the camera on Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But longtime fans of the director know he owes his career to the Evil Dead movies. From 1981 to 1992, Raimi directed three entries in the franchise and has remained involved behind the scenes on every project since. So as Raimi returns to the Marvel fold 15 years after Spider-Man 3, let’s look back at the classic horror movies that started it all.

Bruce Campbell holds the ‘The Evil Dead 2’ (Book of the Dead Limited Edition) DVD
Bruce Campbell | Barry King/WireImage

4) ‘The Evil Dead’ (1981)

Although it might seem sacrilegious, Raimi’s original entry in the series ranks last on this list. In most other franchise rankings, The Evil Dead — which popularized cabins as a horror movie staple — would probably rank near the top. However, Raimi arguably only improves on just about every he does in this movie, as does star Bruce Campbell.

In the years since this movie became a cult classic, fans have continually reassessed whether it was meant to be campy. The fact remains Raimi, Campbell, and company had limited resources when they set out to make this movie. So while it serves as a solid starting point and is a horror milestone, its sequels work better overall.

3) ‘Evil Dead’ (2013)

Throughout the 2000s, horror fans likely grew numb to a disappointing string of horror remakes. So when an Evil Dead remake/reboot — the jury’s still out on how it fits with the other films — was announced, fans collectively groaned. But producers Raimi and Campbell and director Fede Álvarez clearly knew what they were doing.

Rather than keep upping the comedy, the 2013 edition made good on its promise to be “the most terrifying film you will ever experience.” Even if that claim is a bit hyperbolic, Álvarez’s movie does not compromise on the violence. And Jane Levy’s committed performance as both the film’s hero and villain is an undeniable highlight of the series.

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2) ‘Army of Darkness’ (1992)

For a lot of 1990s kids, this was their introduction to Ash (Campbell). Of course, its title doesn’t tip viewers off to the fact that this is essentially Evil Dead 3. And in a way, that change of title make sense. Even now, Army of Darkness remains by far the silliest Raimi’s ostensibly horror-focused movie series has ever gotten. But boy, it still works.

Having gone full cartoon action hero by the end of Evil Dead II, Ash is this time a catchphrase-spewing machine. And Campbell — in his first and only lead role in a major studio movie — is 100 percent game. Army of Darkness has become only more beloved over time, though fans waited until 2015 to see Ash go toe to toe with Deadites again.

1) ‘Evil Dead II’ (1987)

If the first film was a straight horror film and Army of Darkness was an out-and-out comedy, meet the step in between. In fact, Evil Dead II is arguably the best horror comedy ever made because it delivers almost equally on both fronts. Viewers coming for scares have plenty of that to look forward to, and the comedy is just as relentless.

Campbell in particular is a highlight here, as Ash becomes the cinematic icon fans know and love. Armed with a chainsaw hand, the character evolves into his “groovy” self right before viewers’ eyes. And the practical effects, next-level direction from Raimi, and willing supporting cast make Evil Dead II an easy pick for the series’ pinnacle.

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