Evil Dead Rise is releasing next Friday and it looks worlds apart from the originals. I LOVE the Evil Dead franchise and LOVE horror movies even more. While the original was steeped in horror, the 2 sequels were a bit (okay, a lot) campy. But this new iteration looks to be jumping back deep into the horror side of things.
And I’m totally there for it!
The Evil Dead movie franchise is one of the most iconic horror series of all time. Beginning with The Evil Dead in 1981, the films have captivated viewers for decades and show no signs of slowing down. Here’s a breakdown of the series.
What is the Necronomicon?
The Necronomicon is a book of an ancient Sumerian text filled with incantations and rituals, written by the “Mad Arab” Abdul Alhazred. The book has supernatural powers, as it can summon demons and other evil spirits, but it also has a deadly dark side. Any person who reads from the book will be consumed by an evil force and become subject to the power of Deadites, or possessed individuals that are controlled by the forces of darkness.
The Necronomicon was first seen in Evil Dead (1981) when Ash Williams (played by Bruce Campbell) found it in a cabin near the woods. It was bound with flesh, with strange symbols and inscriptions written on its pages. In Evil Dead II (1987), Ash is shown reading from the book while struggling to defeat an evil force that has taken over his girlfriend Linda.
In Army of Darkness (1992) it’s revealed that the Necronomicon is the key to unlocking a portal that will allow Ash to return home. However, its powers are too strong for him and he must enlist the help of a wise old sorcerer in order to use it safely. As in all Evil Dead films, the Necronomicon plays an integral role in bringing about chaos and destruction.
The Evil Dead (1981)
The original movie was written and directed by Sam Raimi and starred Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams. I got on board a couple of years later and instantly fell in love. Bruce is perfect for this part and in fact, it’s the role he is most closely associated with. However, if you haven’t seen Bubba Hotep, you may not be able to unsee him as Elvis.
Anyway, the first time we see the dangerous Book of the Dead, aka the Necronomicon, is when a group of college kids unknowingly open it and unleash demonic forces while they’re spending the weekend in an isolated cabin. The movie is considered to be one of the most influential horror films of all time, inspiring later slasher movies and popularizing the “found footage” style. The film was a massive success at the box office, grossing over $2.4 million domestically and becoming an instant cult classic. It also spawned a video game and as we know, several sequels and reboots/reimaginings.
The Evil Dead II (1987)
The sequel to the original, Evil Dead II ups the evil and gore. Directed by Sam Raimi once again and also starring Bruce Campbell, Ash is back! This time he’s pitted against an army of undead skeletons and is forced to fight for his life in order to save humanity. Unlike the first movie which was strictly horror, this one features a good dose of comedy, and it was an instant hit with fans. The film grossed over $5.9 million domestically and remains the highest-grossing installment in the series.
Army of Darkness (1992)
The third movie in the franchise, Army of Darkness sees Ash traveling back in time to save humanity from leaving this age of darkness. This movie goes even further into the comedy side than the previous one and is often considered to be a cult classic. The film grossed over $11 million domestically and is still well-loved by fans of the series.
Evil Dead (2013)
The reboot of the franchise was directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy as the new lead. This movie is darker and gorier than any of the previous installments, inspiring a whole new generation of horror fans. The film was a box office hit, grossing over $97 million globally.
Ash vs Evil Dead (2015)
This television series ran on Starz for three seasons and saw the return of the much-beloved Ash to the franchise. It follows him as he continues to fight off the evil dead and protect mankind. The show was a big hit with fans, often praised for its combination of horror and comedy elements.
Evil Dead Rise (4/21/23)
The latest installment in the franchise is directed by Lee Cronin and stars Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, and Jessica De Gouw as the new lead. According to early reviews, it looks like this movie will do the series justice.
Entertainment Weekly calls Evil Dead Rise a “harrowing ride” and The Guardian praises it for its “stunning visuals.” The movie is set to be released on April 21st, 2021 and I can’t wait! (Redband trailer below)
Overall, the Evil Dead franchise has come a long way since 1981 and still remains one of the most beloved horror series of all time. Here’s to more demonic adventures in the future!