A new Evil Dead film arrives in cinemas this weekend – so there's no better time to familiarise yourself with the previous films in the beloved horror franchise ahead of a trip to the pictures.


Initially kicked off by Sam Raimi with The Evil Dead back in 1981 (which was itself building off his 1978 short film Within the Woods), the series has since expanded to include numerous films and a TV series, not to mention comic books, video games, and even a rock musical.

Given there have now been a couple of reboots, the films don't necessarily form one story – and indeed even the first sequel actually contains some inconsistencies when compared with the original film – but the best way in which to watch the films is undoubtedly in the order they were released.

With that in mind, read on for a full list of how to watch the Evil Dead films (and the one TV show) in order.

The Evil Dead

Evil Dead 1
The Evil Dead SEAC

Release date: 1981

The film that first introduced us to Bruce Campbell's Ash and the Book of the Dead, The Evil Dead follows five college students who travel to a secluded cabin in the woods for a holiday – only to stumble upon the Naturom Demonto in the building's cellar alongside a tape recorder left behind by an archaeologist named Raymond Knowby.

When they play the accompanying tape – which consists of Knowby muttering mysterious incantations – an evil demonic spirit is resurrected and the gang finds themselves terrorised by it as they attempt to escape the cabin.

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One by one, each of Ash's companions becomes possessed by the spirit and it falls to him to do battle with them all and destroy the Book of the Dead in order to secure his survival.

The film soon became a cult favourite, although it was controversial upon its release – with some scenes having to be cut in order to pacify the British Board of Film Censors.

The Evil Dead II

Evil Dead 2
The Evil Dead 2 SEAC

Release date: 1987

Coming six years after the previous film, The Evil Dead II essentially retcons some of the events of the original – following Ash as he arrives at a cabin alongside his girlfriend Linda (Denise Baxter) only for the demons to once again be unleashed in much the same way as they had previously.

After Linda becomes possessed, Ash must kill her – although he is unable to escape the cabin even after he has done so and finds himself having to cut off his own hand with a chainsaw after it also becomes possessed.

Soon he is joined by a number of other people at the cabin: Raymond Knowby's daughter Annie, her research partner Ed Getley, repairman Jake, and his girlfriend Bobby Joe. Unsurprisingly, each member of this group soon finds themselves similarly targeted by the demonic spirit – with Ash once again the sole survivor.

However, the film ends with Ash being transported through a portal to the Middle Ages...

The Evil Dead II received arguably even more acclaim than the first film in the series, and was the first to introduce a more slapstick comedy element to proceedings – while Sam Raimi's virtuosic camerawork was especially praised.

Army of Darkness

Army of Darkness
Army of Darkness SEAC

Release date: 1992

Following on directly from the previous instalment, Army of Darkness shakes things up by being set entirely in the Middle Ages, where Ash finds himself tasked with ridding Lord Arthur's kingdom of Deadites.

While trapped in this earlier time period, Ash comes across a Wise Man who informs him that the only way he can make it back to the present is by getting his hands on the Book of the Dead, and so he searches for the book whilst simultaneously having to do battle with an army of Deadites led by an evil version of himself.

As was the case with its predecessor, the film once again leans into comedy, while it features a little less gore than the previous instalments and received a slightly less positive reception from critics. Nonetheless, it has endured as a cult favourite with fans of the franchise.

Evil Dead

Evil Dead
Evil Dead SEAC

Release date: 2013

More than 20 years passed before the Deadites next appearance on the big screen, with future Don't Breathe director Fede Álvarez helming a reboot simply titled Evil Dead in 2013.

Part sequel and part remake, the film goes back to basics in terms of its setup – following five friends who spend a weekend at a remote cabin in the woods only to find themselves accidentally awakening an evil spirit.

For the first time in the franchise's history, the main protagonist is not Ash but recovering heroin addict Mia (Jane Levy), although Bruce Campbell does make a brief uncredited cameo as the iconic character in a post-credits sequence.

Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash vs Evil Dead
Ash vs Evil Dead Starz

Release date: 2015-2018

Two years after that brief post-credits appearance, Campbell reprised his role more fully in the franchise's first (and so far only) TV series.

Running for three seasons, the show is a more direct sequel to the original trilogy, following Ash and his colleagues at a Value Stop store as they frequently find themselves coming up against Deadites in a long battle to save humanity.

The show was cancelled by network Starz in 2018 – after which Campbell revealed he was officially retiring from playing the character – although an animated revival is reportedly currently in active development.

Evil Dead Rise

Evil Dead Rise
Evil Dead Rise StudioCanal

Release date: 2023

The latest instalment in the series swaps the traditional cabin in the woods setting for an urban environment – with the bulk of the action unfolding in the top floor of an LA apartment building.

The unfortunate souls on the receiving end of the Deadites' attack this time around are single mother Ellie (Alyssa Sutherland), her children Danny (Morgan Davies), Bridget (Gabrielle Echols) and Kassie (Nell Fisher) and her estranged sister Beth – who has recently arrived with some major life news.

The film has received much acclaim from critics, and certainly doesn't skimp on the blood and gore that helped made the original films so popular – even if it doesn't contain quite as much comedy as some of the earlier efforts.

Evil Dead Rise is released in UK cinemas on Friday 21st April. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight.


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