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The 8 scariest scenes in the Evil Dead franchise

Summoned to cinemas by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell, the Evil Dead films remain some of the most frightening and bloodiest horror movies in history. These cabin horror films have delivered countless scares thanks to the infernal antics of the Necronomicon and the demonic Deadites it creates.

And with the grand unveiling of Evil Dead Rise, the franchise continues to evolve and terrify audiences in shocking new ways. Now that this reboot has premiered in theaters, let’s take a look at which Evil Dead movie moments invoke the most scares.

Summoning the demon (Evil Dead Rise)

Danny plays a record in Evil Dead Rise.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Evil Dead films have shown the characters summoning the demon of their Necronomicons in different ways, and they are all undoubtedly frightening. However, Danny’s version of this ritual in the latest film is arguably the best. After Danny discovers the Book of the Dead and plays a priest’s record reciting its text, the latter’s voice blares from the speakers with an ominous reverb that makes him sound like a demon himself.

Though Danny becomes wise enough to try and stop it, the record player is locked in place as it continues to play, showing that it is already too late. At the same time, the audience sees the demon rushing toward Ellie through its point-of-view in typical Evil Dead fashion before it slams her into the wall, setting off the many horrors their family must face.

The book burns (The Evil Dead)

Ash on the floor in "The Evil Dead."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

In the original film’s final battle, Ash defeats the remaining Deadites by throwing the Necronomicon into the burning fireplace. However, he has to watch his sister and friend’s possessed bodies decompose into bloody and grotesque piles of bones and mush. The Necronomicon itself comes to life in the fire, wagging its serpentine tongue as it fades along with the monsters it created.

If that wasn’t bad enough, demonic arms burst out of the Deadites’ corpses and rip them apart even more. While the stop-motion claymation isn’t realistic, it’s still horrifying to see these poor people rot away at the hands of this cosmic evil. And with the demon’s last fading call to Ash, the audience knows that, despite surviving the ordeal, the horrors that he experienced will continue to haunt him for a long, long time.

Buried in the cellar (Evil Dead II)

Deadite Henrietta in "Evil Dead II."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

When Annie Knowby listens to her father’s tapes in the sequel, she is saddened to hear that he killed her mother, Henrietta, after she was possessed by the Kandarian Demon and turned into a Deadite. Ash listens as he is locked in the fruit cellar, accused of being the killer, but he is horrified to hear that the professor buried his wife down there.

At that moment, the undead Henrietta bursts from beneath the floor and closes in on him. Her sudden appearance as a gray and bloated zombie is scary enough, but her head mutates into a “goose-necked” monstrosity whose appearance will stay fresh in viewers’ minds for quite a while.

‘I’ll rip your soul out’ (2013’s Evil Dead)

A possessed teenage woman in "Evil Dead."
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Director Fede Álvarez’s reboot begins with a young woman getting kidnapped by a group of people in the woods. At first glance, it seems like they intend to murder her in some satanic ritual. But once the woman’s father shows himself among the kidnappers, it is revealed that she murdered her mother and must be burned alive to expel the malevolent force controlling her body.

Though she begs her father to spare her, the demon inside her shows its true colors once the fire is lit. This scene thus executes a clever misdirect that lets the audience know that while this reboot won’t be the Evil Dead film they expect, it is everything they want it to be.

Natalie cuts off her arm (2013’s Evil Dead)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

After Natalie has a frightening encounter with the Deadite Mia, she finds her arm getting possessed by the demon. This evil force quickly makes its way up to Natalie’s head, threatening to consume her mind as Mia watches sadistically from the cellar. However, Natalie takes the electric knife next to her and hacks her arm off to stop the possession in a brutal act of defiance.

This may be a repeat of Ash’s own amputation scene, but the execution is less comedic and many times more graphic. And Mia’s loud protests from the sidelines make this scene even more disturbing.

Mia’s possession (2013’s Evil Dead)

Sony Pictures / Sony Pictures

Sexual assault remains a controversial thing to include in cinema, and Cheryl’s violation by a possessed tree in the first film, 1981’s The Evil Dead, remains one of the most infamous scenes in the Evil Dead franchise. However, Fede Álvarez version of this scene is arguably the better one, both in terms of scariness and execution.

For one thing, this scene doesn’t oversexualize Mia’s assault by the demon and focuses more on her terrified reaction. Also, the visual effects and actor Jane Levy’s performance make the scene more realistic and much more terrifying. It very much symbolizes Mia being overcome by her heroin addiction after trying to quit, with both her personal and literal demons taking control over her body.

The opening deaths (Evil Dead Rise)

Jessica floating over a lake in "Evil Dead Rise."
Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.

Before Evil Dead Rise puts the spotlight on Beth and Ellie’s night with the demon, viewers are given a glimpse of its most recent victim, Jessica. Becoming fully possessed at her cabin in the woods, Jessica debuts herself as a Deadite to her cousin by ripping her scalp clean off her head.

Jessica then uses a drone to slice her own face before slaughtering her boyfriend in the lake like a shark that swam out from Hell. Jessica then rises from the water in front of her cousin, floating above the surface in all her unholy glory. The scares in this scene are built with perfect suspense and promises an exquisite bloodbath in the story that follows.

Battling the beast (Evil Dead Rise)

A woman with a bloody face holds a chainsaw in a scene from Evil Dead Rise.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Though Beth and Kassie make it to the former’s car in the garage in Evil Dead Rise‘s ending, they still have to face the possessed remains of Ellie, Danny, and Bridget one last time. But this family of Deadites unleashes a new breed of terror on their prey by merging their bodies to form a chimeric abomination straight out of John Carpenter’s The Thing.

This three-headed beast nearly succeeds in decapitating little Kassie and making her a part of them. Fortunately, Beth arms herself with a chainsaw to slice the monster to pieces, driving it into a garbage shredder. At this point, it’s hard to imagine how the franchise will top this frightening encounter.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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