Halloween-O-Meter: The Evil Dead Trilogy
Halloween-O-Meter: The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1992) 3-in-1 review
Created by writer/director Sam Rami (who directed and wrote all three), the Evil Dead Trilogy stars Bruce Campbell as Ashley “Ash” J. Williams. He’s a regular guy just having a few bad days. The Evil Dead (1981) sees a group of friends become trapped in a cabin in the woods by demons. The Evil Dead II sees Ash and a few strangers trapped in a cabin in the woods by demons again, this time released from a mysterious ancient book. Army of Darkness sees Ash and the book trapped in the 1300s in England where he must find the book to return home. And you know, zombie demons. Groovy.
Now I haven’t seen Ash vs Evil Dead (2015-2018) yet, and I don’t care about the 2013 remake of the first film. However I am pretty excited to check out the series! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t love these movies. Everyone loves these movies because of what they did for their budgets (mainly the first film), as well as launching Sam Raimi’s career. I probably just saw the first film too late to appreciate it, but it took my a while to warm up to this trilogy and its incredible unique tone.
The Evil Dead:
This one especially I didn’t care for. I have mad respect for what Raimi did with the microbudget in this film. That said gosh I did not like this movie! The handheld cinematography is pretty ugly, the performances are all- fine? I mean Bruce Campbell feels like he is barely in it. I know they had to shoot around him for scheduling reasons. Maybe it’s simply the NC-17 rating and choice to make your B-movie as violent as possible, but this was not my thing. 5/10.
Evil Dead II:
The second Evil Dead film tosses in something that this film already had but didn’t know it: Campy. Bruce Campbell overacts just about every second on screen, and gosh he’s amazing. It’s confusing, because he’s not, but he is. It’s B-movie horror gold. That said, the first act is bizarre. It takes a while for the pacing to sink in for me. But when it does, it’s kind of really fun! I was actually ready to give this film a 6/10, but I had a pretty good time! Plus I can really appreciate the hard work that went into this one a bit more! there’s a scene where everything in the room is moving, and I have no idea how they did it. 7/10.
Army of Darkness:
BAHAHAHAHA this movie is the best! I’m not kidding, I think it’s great! Bruce Campbell is absolutely hilarious, and should get more attention as one of if not the best Scream Queen in horror history. I love the lore thrown in, the effects work for only $11 million is incredible, and honestly, this one is the funniest! It embraces the B-movie feel with open arm and is much better for it! These movies I feel didn’t really have the budget to be scary, which is why I don’t care for the first film. Army of Darkness is wonderful thanks to a brilliant control of tone and pacing, even capturing the feel of the second film! 8/10.
So to recap: I don’t care for the first film. I know it’s good, but it’s not my thing. 5/10. The second and third film make a heck of a double-feature though! They are wonderfully campy and feature an over-the-top Bruce Campbell that knows exactly how to deliver iconic one-liners. 7/10 and 8/10 respectively. So yeah, you know how I started by saying that I didn’t care about this trilogy? I guess I kinda do!
Now the question is, which film scores the highest for as a watch for Halloween? Well considering that horror is an important element in scary movies, it might not be the third one that I love so much… Don’t get me wrong, you’ve for fantasy and dead-ites and the Necronomicon and more, but it’s also not a scary film whatsoever. Ah who am I kidding, this is a great Halloween flick! It’s just not as great as the other two. I’ll give the third Evil Dead (Army of Darkness) 4 Duel-Wielding Swords out of 5. (Which is 8 out of 10 if you are keeping score.)
What about the first one then? You get the cheese tone without the castles! Cabin in the woods? Pretty iconic. I don’t know, too many films have done this premise better since it came out, so if you want an actually scary movie, you’re out of luck here. It’s not a bad Halloween watch, but I think I can only give it 3 out of 5 Very Angry Trees.
Which leaves the second film… And yeah, this one is a PERFECT pick for Halloween! You get the B-movie horror, the cabin in the woods, the fun performances, the violence, and more! I mean you can’t do much better than this for a fun Halloween movie. 5 out of 5 ‘Don’t Read That Book’ Books.
So The Evil Dead Trilogy? Have you seen it? What do you think? And which one of these is your favorite? Or do you lean towards the new one or the show more? Whatever your thoughts, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and want to read more like it, we have a bunch already out and only a few more to go… So check those out!
-review by Ryan “Ry” M. Prince