Evil Dead

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Evil Dead
Evil Dead logo.png
Official franchise logo
Created bySam Raimi
Original workThe Evil Dead (1981)
Years1981–present
Print publications
ComicsList of comic books
Films and television
Film(s)Original series

Reboot series

Short film(s)
Television series
Theatrical presentations
Musical(s)
Games
Video game(s)List of video games

Evil Dead is an American supernatural horror film franchise created by Sam Raimi consisting of four feature films and a television series. The series revolves around the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text which wreaks havoc upon a group of cabin inhabitants in a wooded area in Tennessee in America.

The protagonist, Ashley Joanna "Ash" Williams (Bruce Campbell) is the only character to appear in every installment of the original trilogy, with the notable exception of his main love interest Linda, who appears in Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness during only the prologues. The original trilogy includes The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1992), all written and directed by Raimi, produced by Robert G. Tapert, and starring Campbell. The franchise has since expanded into other formats, including video games, comic books, a musical, and a television series.

The franchise was resurrected in 2013 with Evil Dead, both a reboot and a loose continuation of the series directed by Fede Álvarez and produced by Raimi, Campbell and Tapert. A TV series named Ash vs Evil Dead premiered on cable network Starz in 2015, starring Bruce Campbell as Ash, executive produced by Campbell, Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, lasting three seasons and ending in 2018.[1][2]

A new film in the franchise, titled Evil Dead Rise, was as of June 2020 in development with Lee Cronin serving as writer and director, and Raimi, Tapert, and Campbell serving as producers.[3][4]

Films[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer(s)
The Evil Dead October 15, 1981 (1981-10-15) Sam Raimi Robert G. Tapert
Evil Dead II March 13, 1987 (1987-03-13) Sam Raimi Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel
Army of Darkness February 19, 1993 (1993-02-19) Sam Raimi Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Evil Dead April 5, 2013 (2013-04-05) Fede Álvarez Fede Álvarez & Rodo Sayagues Robert G. Tapert, Sam Raimi, & Bruce Campbell
Evil Dead Rise TBA Lee Cronin

The Evil Dead (1981)[edit]

Filmed in 1979 and released in 1981, this is the first film in the series. It introduces the series' protagonist Ash, the Book of the Dead, and the Deadites.

Evil Dead II (1987)[edit]

Released in 1987, this film is a sequel to the original, continuing where the last film ended (a recap of the previous film is shown in the beginning). This entry shows the horrors of Ash's continuing battle with the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and the Deadites. It also introduces elements of slapstick humor that came to define the series.

Army of Darkness (1992)[edit]

Filmed in 1991 and released in spring of 1993 in the United States, this is the third film in the franchise (and the last featuring Ash Williams taking a lead role so far), taking Ash back in time to England in 1300 AD. The movie has horror attributes, but is based mainly on slapstick and action. This time the evil creatures are first explicitly called "Deadites".

Evil Dead (2013)[edit]

Evil Dead is the title of a film that serves as a soft reboot and a continuation of the Evil Dead franchise. Unlike the first three films, this one does not feature the character of Ash Williams in a major role (Ash only appears briefly in a post-credits scene) and instead follows a new protagonist named Mia Allen. The film is considered a continuation of the franchise, and plans to feature both Ash and Mia in future installments have been discussed.

Evil Dead Rise (TBA)[edit]

At the premiere event for Evil Dead (2013), Álvarez announced that a sequel is in development, though he did not intend to be involved with the project. At a WonderCon panel in March 2013, Campbell stated that plans at that time for future films in the franchise included, a sequel to Álvarez's film and a sequel to the original trilogy developed by Raimi, followed by a crossover film which would merge the narratives of Ash and Mia.[5] Álvarez later suggested his involvement with the followup to his movie.[6][7]

In March 2017, Raimi announced that he would write a fourth Evil Dead film with his brother with the official title of Army of Darkness 2.[8] Campbell confirmed that he would reprise his role as Ash,[9] while Raimi later additionally signed on to the project as director.[10] In September 2017 during a panel at Fan Expo Canada, Campbell stated that he believed the only successful future for the franchise at that time, was through a premium cable network, providing the example of Ash vs. Evil Dead on Starz.[11] By November of the same year, Campbell further expressed doubts in a sequel to the original trilogy.[12][13]

In July 2019, Sam Raimi discussed the future of the Evil Dead franchise stating that he is "working on some ideas right now", while expressing hopes that Bruce Campbell would return for a continuation of "the original Evil Dead" story-line. He acknowledged continued potential for a sequel to the 2013 film, stating: "I think you may see some action on the Evil Dead movie in the next six months."[14] By October 2019 Raimi announced at the New York Comic Con, that a new film is in development. Bruce Campbell will serve as a producer, and will not be the star of the film.[15] In June 2020, Lee Cronin was chosen as a director with a script he wrote. Raimi personally chose the filmmaker to continue the franchise. The film will officially be titled, Evil Dead Rise.[3][4]

Short film[edit]

Film U.S. release date Director(s) Screenwriter(s) Producer(s)
Within the Woods June 22, 1978 Sam Raimi Sam Raimi, Rip Tapert and Bruce Campbell

Within the Woods (1978)[edit]

A prototype, short film was produced by Raimi on a low budget titled, Within the Woods. The film was created in order to attract financing from potential producers and studios, for a feature-length film. Though initially a meager success, the film would spawn the entire franchise.

Development[edit]

In January 1978, Bruce Campbell was a college dropout who had just quit his job as a taxicab driver. Sam Raimi was studying literature at Michigan State University with Robert Tapert, who was finishing his economics degree. While putting the finishing touches on It's Murder!, Tapert suggested doing a feature-length film to Raimi. Raimi felt it impossible, stating that they could never acquire the funding. Campbell declared: "I could always move back home." Tapert feared a career in fisheries/wildlife while Raimi was afraid that he would have to go back to work at his dad's home furnishing store. These were the practical reasons that convinced the three to put forth a feature-length film.[16] The three were big fans of the comedy genre, but they decided not to produce a comedy as they felt "a feature-length yuck fest just didn't compute". A well-noted scene from It's Murder moved Raimi to write the short film Clockwork. The three felt the end result was very effective and represented a new direction that their films could take, that of a semi-successful horror film.[17]

This would later lead to research of low-budget horror films at the local drive-in theater. The many films that they watched were the "two films for two dollars," allowing them the chance to document the behavior of what would become their target audience. Campbell said, "The message was very clear: Keep the pace fast and furious, and once the horror starts, never let up. 'The gorier the merrier' became our prime directive." Films they watched included Massacre at Central High and Revenge of the Cheerleaders. The idea to do a "prototype" was commissioned, to prove not only to themselves, but also to potential investors, that they were capable of doing a full-length horror film. The same year, at Michigan State, Raimi had been studying H. P. Lovecraft and was most impressed with Necronomicon, or simply The Book of the Dead. From these rough concepts, he concocted a short story where a group of four friends unwittingly dig up an Indian burial ground and unleash horrific spirits and demons.[18] In the spring of 1978, filming of Within the Woods started over a three-day weekend, on a budget of $1,600.[19]

Within the Woods, as well as serving as a prototype, had impressed the filmmakers. For a marketing strategy, a screening was arranged at their former high school, with a positive response.[20]

Financing[edit]

Filming was first commissioned for the summer of 1979 in Michigan. In order to organize the budget, Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell bought a few "how to make an independent film" guide publications. The budget was originally centered on $150,000 while shooting with a Super 8 camera. However, due to technical difficulties, it was decided to move it up to 16 mm format, as they wanted to film the project in the style of the many low-budget films at the time that had come out in the 1970s.[21] Since they had little experience in the film industry, the three felt they should buy business suits and briefcases as a means to convince investors that they "had all the answers." A man named Andy Grainger, who was a friend of Tapert and owner of a series of movie theaters, was the first primary investor. He stated, "Fellas, no matter what, just keep the blood running." As a tribute to him, there's a scene in the finished film where an old film projector whirs to life and "projects" blood running down the screen.[22]

Most importantly, Grainger provided the name of a distributor in New York City whom they could approach for possible distribution. The company was Levitt-Pickman Films, who most recently was famous for Groove Tube, starring a very young Chevy Chase. The filmmakers took a train at $40 each, as they knew none of their cars could make an entire round trip road trip. One of Campbell's old girlfriends named Andrea allowed them to stay at her apartment. Andrea's cat fell asleep on Raimi's face without even disturbing him, and Raimi, who is allergic to cats, had his eyes swollen shut.[22]

Television[edit]

Series Season Episodes First released Last released Showrunner(s) Network(s)
Ash vs Evil Dead 3 30 October 31, 2015 April 29, 2018 Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi & Tom Spezialy Starz

Ash vs Evil Dead (2015–2018)[edit]

The series stars Bruce Campbell reprising his role as an older Ash Williams with a supporting cast that includes Dana DeLorenzo, Ray Santiago, Lucy Lawless, and Jill Marie Jones. The 10-episode series is executive produced by Campbell, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert.[2] It premiered on Starz on October 31, 2015.

Ash vs Evil Dead proved to be a critically well-received television show, earning a 98% from Rotten Tomatoes. Four days before its premiere, the show was picked up for a second 10-episode season.[23]

The series lasted for three seasons (30 episodes) before it was cancelled by Starz in April 2018. Following the series' cancellation, Bruce Campbell announced he was officially retired from playing the character Ash.

Cast and crew[edit]

Principal cast[edit]

List indicator(s)
  • This table only shows characters that have appeared in three or more films in the series.
  • A dark grey cell indicates that the character was not in the film or that the character's presence in the film has yet to be announced.
  • An A indicates an appearance through archival footage or stills.
  • A C indicates a cameo role.
  • An M indicates the actor was part of the main cast for the season.
  • An S indicates a role shared with another actor.
  • A U indicates an uncredited role.
  • A V indicates a voice-only role.
Character Original series Reboot film Television series Reboot film
The Evil Dead Evil Dead II Army of Darkness Evil Dead Ash vs Evil Dead Evil Dead Rise
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3
1981 1987 1992 2013 2015–16 2016 2018 TBA
Ashley "Ash" Williams Bruce Campbell Bruce CampbellUC Bruce CampbellM TBA
Linda Betsy Baker Denise Bixler Bridget Fonda Rebekkah Farrell
Cheryl Williams Ellen Sandweiss Ellen SandweissUCVA Ellen Sandweiss
Raymond Knowby Bob DorianV John Peaks Bob DorianUCVA Nicholas Hope
Scotty Richard DeManincor
Shelly Theresa Tilly
Annie Knowby Sarah Berry
Jake Dan Hicks
Bobby Joe Kassie DePaiva
Prof. Ed Getley Richard Domeier
Henrietta Knowby Lou Hancock
Ted RaimiS
Alison Quigan
Ted RaimiS
Sheila Embeth Davidtz
Lord Arthur Marcus Gilbert
Wiseman Ian Abercrombie
Duke Henry the Red Richard Grove
Mia Allen Jane Levy TBA
Abomination Mia Randal Wilson
The Demon Rupert DegasV
David Allen Shiloh Fernandez
Eric Lou Taylor Pucci
Olivia Jessica Lucas
Natalie Elizabeth Blackmore
Pablo Simon Bolivar Ray SantiagoM TBA
Kelly Maxwell Dana DeLorenzoM
Ruby Knowby Lucy LawlessM
Amanda Fisher Jill Marie JonesM
Heather Samara Weaving
El Brujo Hemky Madera Hemky Madera
Linda B. Emery Michelle HurdM
Chet Kaminski Ted RaimiM
Brock Williams Lee Majors
Baal Joel Tobeck
Lacey Emery Pepi Sonuga
Sheriff Thomas Emery Stephen Lovatt
Tanya Sara West
Brandy Barr Arielle Carver-O'NeillM TBA
Dalton Lindsay FarrisM

Additional crew[edit]

Role
The Evil Dead Evil Dead II Army of Darkness Evil Dead Ash vs Evil Dead Evil Dead Rise
1981 1987 1992 2013 2015 – 2018 TBA
Director(s) Sam Raimi Fede Álvarez (various directors) Lee Cronin
Producer(s) Robert G. Tapert Robert G. Tapert
Sam Raimi
Bruce Campbell
Robert G. Tapert
Sam Raimi
Bruce Campbell
Craig DiGregorio
Robert G. Tapert
Sam Raimi
Bruce Campbell
Writer(s) Sam Raimi Sam Raimi
Scott Spiegel
Sam Raimi
Ivan Raimi
Fede Álvarez
Rodo Sayagues
(various writers) Lee Cronin
Composer Joseph LoDuca Joseph LoDuca
Danny Elfman (themes)
Roque Baños Joseph LoDuca TBA
Cinematographer Tim Philo Peter Deming Bill Pope Aaron Morton Dave Garbett
John Cavill
Editor Edna Ruth Paul Kaye Davis Bob Murawski
R.O.C. Sandstorm
Bryan Shaw Bob Murawski
Production company Renaissance Pictures Renaissance Pictures
Rosebud Releasing
Renaissance Pictures
Dino De Laurentiis Communications
FilmDistrict
Ghost House Pictures
TriStar Pictures
Renaissance Pictures
Starz Originals
Ghost House Pictures
Distributor New Line Cinema Embassy Communications
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
Universal Studios Sony Pictures Releasing Anchor Bay Entertainment TBA
Running time 85 minutes 84 minutes 81 minutes 92 minutes 25–37 minutes TBA
Release date October 15, 1981 March 13, 1987 October 9, 1992 April 5, 2013 October 31, 2015 –
April 29, 2018

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States International Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
The Evil Dead October 15, 1981 $2,400,000 $27,000,000 $29,400,000 5,825 $375,000 [24][25]
Evil Dead II March 13, 1987 $5,923,044 $5,923,044 4,822 $3,500,000 [26][27]
Army of Darkness October 9, 1992 $11,502,976 $10,000,000 $21,502,976 3,934 $11,000,000 [28][29]
Evil Dead April 5, 2013 $54,239,856 $43,162,193 $97,402,049 1,290 $17,000,000 [30][31]
Total $74,065,876(E) $80,162,193(E) $154,228,069(E) $31,875,000(E) [32]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.
  • (E) indicates an estimated figure based on available numbers.

Critical and public response[edit]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
The Evil Dead 95% (60 reviews)[33] 71/100 (11 reviews)[34]
Evil Dead II 95% (59 reviews)[35] 69/100 (12 reviews)[36]
Army of Darkness 73% (48 reviews)[37] 57/100 (18 reviews)[38]
Evil Dead 62% (198 reviews)[39] 57/100 (38 reviews)[40]
Ash vs Evil Dead season one 98% (51 reviews)[41] 75/100 (25 reviews)[42]
Ash vs Evil Dead season two 100% (17 reviews)[43] 82/100 (5 reviews)[44]
Ash vs Evil Dead season three 100% (15 reviews)[45] N/A

Other media[edit]

Video games[edit]

There have been multiple Evil Dead video games:

Ash Williams also appears as a playable character, along with Kelly and Pablo from the Ash Vs. Evil Dead TV series, in Deploy and Destroy, a competitive multiplayer FPS available for iOS and Android, and also as a non-playable character in Telltale Games' game Poker Night 2. Both of these games are not longer available. He also appears as a playable character in the asymmetrical horror game Dead by Daylight.

Comic books[edit]

Dark Horse Comics[edit]

In 1992, Dark Horse Comics produced a mini-series adaptation of Army of Darkness adapted and illustrated by John Bolton. A trade paperback of this series was released by Dynamite Entertainment on September 25, 2006.

In 2008, Dark Horse revisited the franchise with a four issue adaptation of The Evil Dead written by Mark Verheiden and once again illustrated by John Bolton.

Dynamite Entertainment[edit]

In 2004, Dynamite Entertainment acquired the license to publish titles based on Army of Darkness and, in conjunction with Devil's Due Publishing, released the Army of Darkness: Ashes 2 Ashes mini-series. A second mini-series, Army of Darkness: Shop till You Drop Dead followed in 2005. Later that year, Dynamite separated itself from Devil's Due and began focusing entirely on self-published titles featuring the Army of Darkness franchise. This included an ongoing series that began in 2005 and saw Ash battling other horror icon such as Herbert West and Dracula. The series lasted thirteen issues before being rebooted with a second volume in 2007. The second series lasted twenty-seven issues before coming to an end. Over the years, there have also been several one-shot specials as well as crossovers with a wide variety of characters such as, Marvel Zombies, Darkman, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Xena, Danger Girl and even Barack Obama. The series was then rebooted in 2013 and started over from the last scene in Army Of Darkness the film, because Ash mispoke the words S-Mart was sent back in time to the Medieval times where the wiseman has been possessed, Ash fights through many battles with the same characters from the film. At the end of this series Ash proposes to Sheila, in the next series "Ash gets hitched" they get married but Ash gets sent forward in time when he accidentally speaks a phrase that opens up a vortex. He wants to get back to Sheila but runs into many situations causing delays, he is currently in space fighting the evil.

Space Goat Productions[edit]

  • Out of business after stealing funding from the official board game.[51]

In 2015, Space Goat Productions acquired the license to publish titles based on Evil Dead 2.[52] The company has released, or is planning on releasing, the following titles:

  • Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn, a three-issue mini-series which debuted in June 2015[53]
  • Evil Dead 2: Tales of the Ex-Mortis, a three-issue anthology which debuted in August 2015.[54]
  • Evil Dead 2: Cradle of the Damned, a three-issue mini-series which debuted in January 2016[55]
  • A series of Evil Dead 2: Revenge of ... one-shots, which began with Hitler in March 2016 and will be followed by Dracula, the Martians, Jack the Ripper and Krampus
  • Evil Dead 2: Dark Ones Rising, a three-issue mini-series which will debut in August 2016[56]
  • Evil Dead 2: The official board game, a board game made about the film. Note that this was attempted to be made via funding through Kickstarter in 2018, but Space Goat Productions stole all the money, leaving the backers who invested nothing.[51]

Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash[edit]

In the documentary "The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead" Rob Tapert states that New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures had said they wanted to do Ash vs. Freddy vs. Jason: "We thought about it for one second but we knew we would have totally trashed the franchise in doing that, in that there would be no reason to reunite Bruce and Sam for Evil Dead 4 whatever that would be nor would there be any reason to go back and reinvent the original Evil Dead with a hot new filmmaker". Two comic book series were produced based on this concept, titled Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash, and Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: The Nightmare Warriors.

Musical[edit]

The production team of George Reinblatt, Christopher Bond and Frank Cipolla recently created an Off Broadway show titled Evil Dead: The Musical, based on the film series. Its New York run was directed by Bond and Hinton Battle, who also choreographed the show. Ryan Ward played the part of Ash. Tying in with the midnight movie plot of a group of friends visiting a wooded cabin and unleashing untold evil, performances did not start until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Previews began October 1 and the show opened November 1 at the New World Stages. It was announced on January 31, 2007, that Evil Dead: The Musical's New York production at New World Stages would close on February 17, 2007. Toronto producers announced a new Toronto production of the show, also starring Ryan Ward, at the Diesel Playhouse. The new production started its running May 1, 2007, and has been announced to end on September 8, 2007.[when?]

In 2017, the English comedian Rob Kemp created and performed the stage show The Elvis Dead, a retelling of Evil Dead II in the style of Elvis Presley.

Legacy[edit]

In Italy, The Evil Dead was released under the title La Casa ("The House") and Evil Dead II became La Casa II. These were followed by three unrelated movies: Umberto Lenzi's La Casa 3 (a.k.a. Ghosthouse) (1988), Fabrizio Laurenti's La Casa 4 (a.k.a. Witchery) (1988) and Claudio Fragasso's La Casa 5 (a.k.a. Beyond Darkness) (1990). This is similar to what has happened in George A. Romero's Living Dead series starting with Zombi 2. House II: The Second Story (1987) and The Horror Show (1989) were retitled La Casa 6 and La Casa 7 respectively in their Italian releases.[57]

Evil Dead influenced numerous directors, such as Peter Jackson and Edgar Wright,[58] and inspired films such as Shaun of the Dead, The Cabin in the Woods, Bubba Ho-Tep, Dead Alive, Dead Snow, Ghosthouse, and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.[59] The Cabin in the Woods features many references to the film and even features Deadites and the possessed trees although this is considered more a reference than a direct sequel.[original research?] In 2020 Steve Villenevue premiered the documentary Hail to the Deadites, which focused on the franchise's fandom and legacy. It featured interviews from people involved with the film, such as Bruce Campbell, as well as with fans.[60]

The Evil Dead films and the character of Ash influenced 1990s first-person shooter video games such as Doom, Duke Nukem 3D, and Blood. Duke Nukem quotes so many lines from Ash that Bruce Campbell stated that he was angered by not being paid for them.[61][62] Evil Dead was cited as an inspiration for the original Doom.[63]

Bruce Campbell directed and starred in a film titled My Name Is Bruce.[64] It does not continue the story of Army of Darkness but is a fictionalized portrayal of Bruce living his everyday life in which he is erroneously believed to be as heroic as the Ash character and is hired to fight an ancient spirit. The film was released to a limited number of theaters on October 26, 2008 and was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on February 10, 2009.

Lawsuits[edit]

Awards Pictures, a company that attempted to begin a new line of movies in the series in 2004, announced plans in May 2012 to film an Evil Dead 4, one that has nothing to do with the original films. Because of this, Sam Raimi sued Awards Pictures in an attempt to stop them from making said film, due to his own plan to someday film one himself.[citation needed] In August 2012, U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer entered a default judgment that "permanently enjoined" Awards Pictures from using the names Evil Dead, Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon, Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon, Part 2 or Evil Dead: Consequences "as or as part of the title of a motion picture, television program, video game, play, book or any other form of entertainment provided or to be provided through any media."[65]

References[edit]

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