Evil Dead

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
The name's Ash. Housewares.
"The fact is that you can't hold Ash to the same standard that you hold mere mortals to. He is not only just a complete and total badass; He is the standard by which all future badasses will be measured. So if he wants to jump onto a department store trampoline and fire fifteen perfectly-aimed shotgun shells in rapid succession while soaring twenty feet in the air, he can do it. You and I can't; but you and I are also not Ash. And while it may seem impossible for him to do the things that he does and kick as much ass as he is famous for doing, I assure you that it isn't. Why, you ask? Simple. Because he's Ash."

In 1979, a bunch of kids got together in a cabin in Tennessee and made a film with a standard B-Movie plot; this film was The Evil Dead. The film, which was directed by Sam Raimi (of Spider-Man fame), and starred Bruce Campbell (who is most associated with this series), managed to make enough money to warrant two sequels and get into the public consciousness. The result of the two sequels was a strange blend where Narm Charm meets Rule of Cool.

The first film's story follows a bunch of kids who get together in a cabin in Tennessee and play a tape recorded recitation from a demonic book of the dead (the Necronomicon) -- which leads to each of them becoming possessed and attacking the others. Evil Dead 2's plot was seemingly a rehash of the prior film with some rewrites; only Ashley J. Williams (Campbell) and Ash's girlfriend Linda go to the cabin, and the ending leads straight into Army of Darkness. The plot of the first film wasn't actually retconned, though -- due to copyright issues, Raimi was unable to use scenes from the first movie, which forced him to shoot a new recap (ignoring said recap makes Evil Dead 2 a direct sequel).

Army of Darkness is the most well-known (and quoted) film of the trilogy. Ash is transported back to Medieval Europe, where he finds out he can return to his own time -- if he can retrieve the Necronomicon first. Ash manages to find the book, but when he inevitably screws up the retrieval, he's forced to train and help the not-quite peaceful villagers he's placed in the path of an Army of Darkness.

The third film catapulted Ash into pop culture popularity; there are four videogames, tons of comic book adaptions (including crossovers with Marvel Zombies and Xena, as well as Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash), a Role-Playing Game under the Unisystem umbrella, and a Broadway musical all based on Ash and the Evil Dead trilogy.

A remake of the first movie, directed by Fede Álvarez, was released in 2013. Sam Raimi, Robert Tapert, and Bruce Campbell were producers, while Diablo Cody doctored the script.

Films in this series:

  • The Evil Dead (1981)
  • Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn (1987)
  • Army of Darkness (1992)
  • Evil Dead (2013)

Video games in this series:

  • The Evil Dead (1984)
  • Evil Dead: Hail to the King (2000)
  • Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick (2003)
  • Evil Dead: Regeneration (2005)
Evil Dead is the Trope Namer for:
  • Fake Shemp: During filming of The Evil Dead, any castmember that wasn't Bruce Campbell eventually left due to various circumstances. To finish the movie, stand-ins were utilized wherever possible (sometimes quite noticeably, sometimes not) and these people were credited as this. Sam Raimi himself coined the term, inspired by the Three Stooges. The term became a fixture of later Raimi-related productions.
  • This Is My Boomstick
Tropes used in Evil Dead include:
  • Ashcan Copy: Within the Woods, a short film made primarily to get the first true Evil Dead film financed.
  • Angrish: Ash has a tendency to babble and scream incoherently when frightened or enraged.
  • Animate Dead: what happens when you remove the book. There's a spell to disable that, but Ash mispronounces it; Hilarity Ensues.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The source of the entire mess.
  • Arm Cannon - Literally, in the games.
  • Arrow Cam - A favorite of Raimi.
  • Artificial Limbs: When his hand is chopped off, Ash replaces it with a chainsaw. Later, he replaces that with a clockwork gauntlet.
    • And in the extended media beyond the films, he'll frequently swap out his gauntlet with the saw (for example, in A Fistful of Boomstick, he can switch the chainsaw out with a flamethrower and a Gatling gun).
  • Ax Crazy: How Ash copes with the events of the first two movies. By the third, he's turned it into Crazy Awesome.
  • Badass Normal: Ash goes up against demons from hell, medieval knights, the undead and his own mutated friends with no training, preparation or backup, and still manages to kick ass and take names.
  • Banned in China Britain: It was one of the "Video Nasties" that got Mary Whitehouse's knickers in a twist. It was more to do with the title than the content; titles with stuff like "Evil" and "Dead" were banned in a knee-jerk reaction (although the tree rape scene didn't do it any favors).
  • Barrier-Busting Blow - Several times across the films, but hilariously subverted in Army of Darkness, where Ash keeps screaming goofily until he notices the monster's stopped trying to get in.
  • BBC Quarry: It wasn't shot in England (though the story does take place there), but Ash's arrival in the Middle Ages at the end of Evil Dead 2 was filmed at a very similar-looking North Carolina rock quarry.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Mocked.

Deadite Sheila: "You found me beautiful once."
Ash: "Honey, you got reeaaaal ugly."

    • Played straight with Ash himself, who only ever gets superficial injuries to his face that just make him seem more handsome. By the third film, his costume is a walking Shirtless Scene. There is a scene in the first film where he gets covered from head to toe in blood; a second later his face is completely clean, and the only thing the blood did was make his shirt cling to his chest in a fanservice-y way
  • Beyond the Impossible: The series begins with a college student fighting demons in an isolated cabin in the woods, and gets cooler from there.
  • Big No: Ash, repeatedly, but especially at the alternate end of the third film.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Trilingual? Necronomicon ex Mortis. The first bit means "Book of the Dead" in Greek, and the second is "from/by the Dead" in Latin.
    • lets not forget its the sumerian book of the dead
  • Black and Gray Morality: Lampshaded in Army of Darkness.

Good Ash: [shoulders his sawn-off] Good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun.

Good Ash: [same as above] I ain't that good.

  • Black Blood: Along with all sorts of liquids the production staff used as blood, mostly to avoid an X-rating...
    • And the possessed Shelly bleeds white blood whilst faking her death throes.
  • Bland-Name Product: "Shop Smart, Shop S-Mart!"
    • "YA GOT THAT!?"
  • Blatant Lies: Jake's song in the musical. He claims to have won an Oscar for directing Platoon, written Jackie Chan's autobiography, and coined the phrase "fo shizzle, my nizzle!"
  • Bloody Hilarious: The second movie.
  • B-Movie: Definitely among the most famous B Movies ever.
  • Body Horror: Begins fairly early in the first movie and goes downhill from there. Highlights include a snake-like neck and a breakneck ballet in the second film.
  • Bond One-Liner: Many. But here's one anyway:

Good Ash: (fires shotgun up Evil Ash's nose) Good, Bad, I'm the guy with the gun.

  • Bottomless Magazines: At one point, Ash fires his double barreled shotgun at least three times in quick succession, far faster than someone with only one hand can reload. There's also the lever action rifle in Army of Darkness which he fires about 30 times without reloading. And then there's the bottomless gas tank for the chainsaw.
  • Butt Monkey: Badass he may be, but Ash is still this quite often.
  • California Doubling: Army of Darkness takes place in medieval England, but it's pretty obviously filmed in Bronson Canyon and Vasquez Rocks. Bruce Campbell has a lot of fun ribbing Sam Raimi about it in their DVD commentary. Notably averted in the first two movies, which really were filmed in the Appalachian forest (much to the chagrin of the Michigan-based cast and crew, especially during the first movie).
  • The Cameo: Hinted at by the tape in the original Evil Dead: "Saman sa'rob dar ees haikar dande roza", this being derived from "Sam [Raimi] and Rob [Tapert] are hitchhikers on the road." Sure enough, if you paid attention five minutes into the film, Scott drove the Olds past a pair of idiotic-looking hitchhikers in fishing gear, both of whom turn to wave as the car sped by.
  • The Cavalry: Henry the Red and his peoples.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 have a few differences, plotwise. The number of people headed to the cabin are different (five in the original, two in the sequel). However, this is a result of Sam Raimi not having the rights to show clips from the first movie. So he decided to recap the first film in abbreviated form instead, then continuing from the very end of the first where Ash gets run into by the Evil-cam.
    • Sam Raimi explains in the Evil Dead 2 commentary that you can attach the Evil Dead 2 scene with Ash being attacked at daybreak to the first movie's ending, then remove Ash's arrival in medieval times from Evil Dead 2, and then attach Ash's arrival from Army of Darkness onto it instead, and you'll have the single-continuity storyline he envisioned. He also said he feels sorry for anyone who'd sit through the resulting 6-hour movie (though many fans might disagree).
  • Chainsaw And Shotgun
  • Chainsaw Good: Probably one of the most iconic examples in media.
  • The Chosen One: Technically, the "Promised One". Also mixed with a little It Sucks to Be the Chosen One.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Ash's tying down of Bad Ash so he can properly chop him up with the chainsaw. There is, however, no gloating.
    • Really, it was more about preventing Bad Ash from hindering him down the road (and a reference to the first movie), but it's quite likely that Ash enjoyed having a Deadite at his mercy (or lack thereof).
  • Cool Car: Sam Raimi's 1973 Oldsmobile is Ash's in the series. Even the car Took a Level in Badass in Army of Darkness, when it is turned into a war machine.
  • Daylight Horror: The ending to the first movie. A few scares at the beginning too.
  • Dance Sensation: Dooo the Necronomicon. The Necronomicon.
  • Deadly Rotary Fan: Taken Up to Eleven with the aforementioned Cool Car's combat refit.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Played straight in "Army of Darkness." Ash finds plenty of opportunities to snark about medieval culture and action-adventure tropes.
    • Ash gets some moments in the first two movies, too.

Linda: Hey Ash, I guessed the card right!
Ash (distracted): Yeah, truly amazing.

  • Dem Bones: Most of the eponymous Army raised by Evil Ash/the Necronomicon in Army of Darkness.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Early in the first movie, Scott seems to be the hero while Ash is next to useless. This quickly changes.
  • Demonic Possession: Pretty much the whole plot of the first two movies. Sheila in the third.
  • Description Porn: From Army of Darkness, Ash introducing his boomstick.
  • Dirty Coward: Scott in the first movie. Played with in the sequels with Ash, where he seemingly acts like a coward, but he either really isn't or just mans up.
  • Dodge This: "Swallow this." * BOOM! *
  • Ear Worm: Almost every song in the musical. "Cabin in the Woods," "All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed By Candarian Demons," and "What the Fuck Was That?" come to mind...
  • Downer Ending: The original ending of Army of Darkness. The exact opposite of the theatrical version.
    • Not that the first two movies had very happy endings themselves, Evil Dead II less so than the first.
  • Dung Ages: Army of Darkness, and results in Ash being a jerk to everyone in the beginning.
  • Enemy Without
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: Including your own hand.
    • AND they're comin' back to getcha!
  • Evil Hand
  • Evil Is Hammy: The Deadites in the first movie and Evil Ash in Army of Darkness.
  • Evil Laugh: The Deadites love doing this.
  • Evil Twin: The twin from Army of Darkness that Ash ends up fighting.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The entire trilogy takes place in about a week, going by Ash's perspective.
  • Eye Poke: Ash gets a number of these in the cemetery scene.
  • Eye Scream
  • Fate Worse Than Death: Assuming you trust the source, the second movie alludes to possession and death being the least of victims' problems in this series:

"Even now we have your darling Linda's soul. She suffers in torment."

Sam Raimi: How come your hand's still stuck in there even though it's chopped off?
Bruce Campbell: It's 'cause the director told me to.

  • Gender Blender Name: Who'd have thought that one of the most significant Badass characters of the Eighties would be named Ashley?
  • Genius Ditz: Ash may be a total cartoon character (when he's not being a badass), but he's still able to effortlessly create a fully-articulated prosthetic hand for himself, synthesize gunpowder and explosive materials using only found natural resources and the Chemistry textbooks in the trunk of his car, and then turn said car into a whirling, bladed death machine. As he puts it:

Ash: With SCIENCE!

  • Genre Savvy: Ash knows that just because a Deadite is down, doesn't mean it's dead. However, he learns this through hard experience, not pre-thought wisdom.

Ash: "It's a trick. Get an axe."

  • Genre Shift: The first movie is a more-or-less straightforward horror film. Evil Dead 2 is a strange hybrid of gory, serious horror, and slapstick comedy. Army of Darkness drops almost all the horror and works instead as an action-comedy. This is surprisingly not an example of Executive Meddling, as creator Sam Raimi helmed all three films, and the progression from horror to comedy was his own idea.
    • The shift is also very effective in showing Ash's descent into madness.
  • Gorn: The second and third film cranked up the gore, with the second having a near-flooding of the cabin floor with orange blood from a decapitation, and the third having a geyser of blood.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In the second movie, just as Ash is about to use the chainsaw on Deadite Linda's head, this trope is invoked - showing blood splattering on the walls and shadows rather than the actual act. The DVD commentary points out the irony of this.

"Why are you not showing that part? You've shown everything else."

Wiseman: My Lord, I believe he is the one written of in the Necronomicon. He who is prophesied to fall from the Heavens and deliver us from the terrors of the Deadites.
Arthur: What? That buffoon? Likely he's one of Henry's men. I say to the pit with him!

Cheryl: I’ll get you, Ash! I’m like a literal Hulk Hogan... I’ll get you, brother!
Ash: Shut up!
Cheryl: We’re like that Columbia House 'Ten CD’s for a Penny' club. Sooner or later, you’ll join us!
Ash: Shut up!
Cheryl: I’m like Dom DeLuise at an all-you-can-eat fish house. I’ll swallow your 'sole'!
Ash: God, shut up!
Cheryl: It’ll be like you were killed by some guy whose first name happens to be Dawn, so you’ll be dead... by Dawn!
Ash: That is it!

Arthur: Are all men from the future loud-mouthed braggarts?
Ash: Nope. Just me baby... Just me.

  • Ironic Echo: In the first film, Ash flirtatiously peeks at Linda while pretending to be asleep, shutting his eyes when she looks back at him. After she's possessed and apparently killed, her "corpse" does the same thing to him.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: "We're going to get you, We're going to get you."
  • It Got Worse: Pretty much the entire point of the series. Every time it look like it might either be getting better, or he might hit rock bottom, or he has any kind of fortune or misfortune whatsoever, something happens to Ash. Case in point - after surviving most of the night, killing his zombie ex-girlfriend and presumably taking care of his own zombie hand by cutting it off, another group of people show up, think he murdered their family, and throw him in the cellar. Headfirst. Then, they listen to the Apocalyptic Log and find out the old man who lived there was actually attacked by his possessed ex-wife. And he buried her in the cellar...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ash in the sequels, especially Army of Darkness.
  • Kill'Em All: Everybody but Ash in 1 and 2.
  • Kensington Gore: Lots of it. The Musical is one of the few Broadway shows to include a "splatter zone" and fans have taken to wearing white t-shirts to shows to take home as bloody souvenirs.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The musical does quite a bit of it. It even points out the inconsistency with Ash being brought back from the curse from seeing Linda's necklace... even though Linda is a Deadite now.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice
  • Large Ham: Rumor has it that Bruce Campbell was hospitalized for two weeks after filming "Army of Darkness" on account of the damage done to his digestive tract after eating all of that scenery.
    • Deadite Cheryl in the first film is also a major one.
  • Late to the Party - Although Ash and his friends don't realize it at first
  • Leg Cling The poster for "Army of Darkness"
  • Licking the Blade
  • Living Legend: Ash could have been a king. In his own way, he was king.
  • Lock and Load Montage
  • Locked Into Strangeness - It's very easy to miss, but after his penultimate confrontation with the big freakin' demon at the end of Evil Dead 2, Ash gains a white/grey stripe of hair on the side of his head from fright. However, this seems to disappear in Army of Darkness.
    • The white stripe actually appears in his hair as a stop motion special effect when he first sees the Eldritch Horror. Easy to miss, but very cool.
  • Losing Your Head: Linda in "2" and Evil Ash in "Army of Darkness".
  • The Lost Woods: The setting of the first two movies once the Necronomicon's been read aloud, they also take up some of the plot during Army of Darkness, as Ash rides to find the Necronomicon.
    • Within the Woods, a "practice" film Raimi and Co. made pre-Evil Dead.
  • Madness Mantra: Evil Dead 2


  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Ash evolves from a fairly sensitive guy into snarling comedic misanthropy over the course of the movies, though he's had one hell of a bad weekend to justify it. It probably didn't help that his allies in both the second and third movie introduced themselves by trying to kill him.

Ash: Now I swear... the next one of you primates... even touches me...

  • The Magic Versus Technology War; To some point, thanks to Ash's quick application of steam and gunpowder knowledge the medieval Englishmen got a chance against a vast undead army.

Nothing like a nice relaxing stroll on the beach...blasting bad guys with my boomstick.

Ash: Yo. She-bitch. Let's go.
Ash: Come to Papa.
Ash: Lady, I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to leave the store.

    • Cranked Up to Eleven in Fistful of Boomstick videogame, where Ash would spout random one-liners with a press of a button.
  • Rain of Blood
  • Rated "M" for Manly: Although this is present in the second film as well, "Army of Darkness" is so manly that it can make your TV grow chest hair and a full-length beard. Some of it is definitely satirical, however.
  • Real Life Relative: Ted Raimi, natch, who appears in every movie in different roles. Ivan Raimi is also credited as Fake Shemp in the first and third movies (the latter of which he co-wrote).
    • Bruce Campbell's father also appears in Army of Darkness as one of the soldiers that gets killed in battle.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning
  • Retcon: In-universe example; the Book of the Dead is given the title "Naturom Demonto" in the first film, then changed to being the Necronomicon in the second film as a Shout-Out to H.P. Lovecraft, and finally it becomes "Necronomicon ex Mortis" in Army of Darkness. This last change is particularly egrerious to anyone who understands Latin; it directly means "The book of the dead of the dead", though it's (understandably) more commonly translated as "The dead book of the dead" in the media, which sounds... well, still not entirely sensible, but not as outright stupid as the first translation.
  • Revised Ending: Army of Darkness originally has an Cruel Twist Ending with Ash waking up in post apocalyptic England after taking too much of a sleeping potion, which was changed to a Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner filled ending thanks to Executive Meddling.
    • "Hail to the King, baby!"
  • Rule of Cool: Ash kills demons with a shotgun in his left hand, and a chainsaw as his right hand, all while spouting one-liners and puns that are so bad they're good.
  • Rule of Funny: Partially the driving purpose behind the two sequels.
  • Satire, Parody, Pastiche
  • Sawed-Off Shotgun
  • Shaky POV Cam
  • Shout-Out: Included in the cellar is a ripped poster from The Hills Have Eyes. Wes Craven returned the favor by showing Evil Dead on TV in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Then Raimi did it again by sticking a Freddy glove in Evil Dead 2.
    • A number of physical-comedy scenes from Army Of Darkness are an obvious The Three Stooges homage.
    • The haunted forest with a girl running in the darkness and attacked by possessed trees reminds a little Snow White's dark forest sequence, exepct this time the trees are real and not part of hallucinations.
  • The Siege
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Lampshaded by Ash in Army of Darkness.

Ash: First you want to kill me, now you want to kiss me. Blow.

"I'm staying!"

  • Title: the Adaptation: Evil Dead: The Musical!
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The "Morturom Demonto," though it becomes the "Necronomicron ex Mortis" in the sequels (after Sam Raimi learned about H.P. Lovecraft and renamed the book as a Shout-Out). Usually shortened by characters to either "the Necronomicon" or "the Book of the Dead".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Cheryl, to some degree. The musical hangs a huge lampshade on this:

Cheryl: Now, Mother always said when you hear a strange, frightening and potentially life-threatening ghostly chant coming from the dark woods, there's only one thing that you should do: not go wake the others and go investigate it alone!

  • Took a Level in Badass: Ash. He starts off as a nebbish, somewhat timid college student. A few days (and two sequels) later, he's redefined the word badass.
    • Bruce Campbell himself actually took a level in badass during the filming of Evil Dead 2, so he could be a better fit to the shotgun-wielding chainsaw-handed king of badasses that Ash would eventually become.
  • Took a Level In Dumbass: Ash, in the Marvel Zombies crossover, is much more willing to hit on women and general has no idea what is going on.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the first movie, Ash is a Nice Guy thrown into the middle of a nightmare and struggles to survive. Throughout the next two movies, his experiences lead to him becoming increasingly more snarky and obnoxious, to the point where he apathetically "helps" the local castle and refuses to help them when the deadites take the Necronomicon. Tropes Are Not Bad, however, as that is the version of Ash that fans remember and love.
  • Training the Peaceful Villagers: Sort of. They weren't exactly peaceful to begin with, but showing them how to make gunpowder certainly was useful. Oddly enough there's another scene where he teaches them how to use their own Blade on a Stick weapons.
  • The Undead: Naturally.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Bad Ash and Bad Sheila in AOD.
  • Unlikely Hero: Ash in Army of Darkness. Lampshaded in Evil Dead II.
  • Video Nasties: Probably the best known film bearing this trope.
  • Viewers are Morons: The original title for the first movie was The Book of the Dead. Their agent, however, suggested they change it on the grounds that movie-goers would think they'd have to read or be uninterested in a movie with "book" in the title. Tropes Are Not Bad, though, as Raimi and co. grew to love the new title.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Army of Darkness sees Ash thrown into a pit containing a few demons that he has to fight, as well as this particular Death Trap just to make things more exciting. He escapes by hanging onto the chain powering the closing walls as it moves up.
  • Waterfall Shower: Abbey and Ash take one, to wash off zombie goo, in Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness #5.
  • Weaponized Car: See Cool Car above.
  • What Could Have Been: Annie from Evil Dead 2 was written as a role for Holly Hunter. Dino De Laurentis vetoed the choice as he didn't think she was beautiful enough.
  • What Happened to Mommy?: Ash has a hard time convincing himself to kill his friends and girlfriend after they're possessed. Annie briefly faces this situation literally with her possessed mother.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ash messes up reciting The Words and doesn't care that he has doomed everyone.

Ash: Klaatu! Verata! Ni--*coughcoughcough*...OK then! That's it!

    • It takes the castle getting raided, everyone turning his back on him, and his love interest kidnapped for him to snap out of it.
  • When Trees Attack: The infamous "tree rape" scene from the original Evil Dead.
    • Sam Raimi has said that he wishes he could go back and re-do the movie and leave out that scene -- in fact, in Evil Dead II, the remake, the demon-possessed trees just kill their victims.
    • It may be telling that the scene was co-producer Rob Tapert's idea, and that the "cast episodes" of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, also by Renaissance Pictures, have Bruce Campbell playing Rob as a Lovable Sex Maniac.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: After taking constant abuse from his Evil Hand, Ash invokes this trope (even the title word-for-word!) with the help of a nearby chainsaw.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: the English in 1300 are perfectly capable of understanding Ash's very slangy modern English, and themselves speak modern English peppered with "thee"s and "shalt"s.