Evil Dead Movies: The Most Soul Sucking Moments

We can all agree that the Evil Dead franchise features some of the craziest, most bizarre moments in horror history, right?

Photo: Renaissance Pictures

Look around. Can you sense it? Like your filthy soul, the smell of blood-soaked chainsaws and flesh-bound books permeates the air. There is something in the woods. Coming. And that’s the 24 nastiest, creepiest, most soul-sucking moments in the entire Evil Dead movie franchise (with apologies to the glorious Ash vs. Evil Dead TV series, which would take up an entire list on its own). In the words of Bruce Campbell, groovy.

Which film has the most wickedly naughty moments? Which makes us simply want to hail to its kingly might? Join us as we revisit all of those glorious scenes that made our souls yearn to be sucked dry. And grab an axe, because we’re headed down to the fruit cellar.

24. “I slept too long!”

Army of Darkness (1992)

There is no better place to start this list off than the original ending of the trilogy’s finale, Army of Darkness. In this darkly humorous curtain call Ashley J. Williams, the most magnificent chin of cinema history, drinks a potion and says the magic words. More or less.

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The spell, which was meant to send our metallic handed hero out of the 1300s and back to his 1990s home, doesn’t work since Ash arrogantly forgets yet again how to follow a wise old wizard’s instructions (he must be wise because he has a beard). The hero’s punishment is thus to Rip Van Winkle for thousands of years and wake up in a post-apocalyptic London. The credits roll on the maniacal laugh of a madman perhaps ready to join his many dead friends and loves within the shadowy embrace of oblivion.

This is Sam Raimi and Campbell’s preferred ending because they realize Ash is an asshole and deserves his fate. Studio executives disagreed, hence why so few knew of this scene at the time. It is not “canonical,” if such a fancy pants term can be applied to Evil Dead, but it still deserves a mention.

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Evil Dead Remake 2013 Arm Cutting Scene

23. Carving the Meat

Evil Dead (2013)

Sometimes, even with the finest pieces of meat, one just has to trim the fat. Natalie learned that the hard way when she came to the cabin in the woods next to that beat up Oldsmobile. Arriving as the arm candy of David, she didn’t realize she was just another slab waiting to be served up to the demonic forces in the woods (to her credit, she’s the filet of the group).

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After her arm begins to swell like a leech feeding on the rest of her body, Natalie will soon do anything to make the demonic pain stop. So, with Deadite Mia hissing in dismay, Natalie takes an electric meat cutter to her flesh, veins, arteries, and bones. “DON’T DO IT, BITCH,” Mia repeatedly chants. But when David finds his gal at the exact moment that last flap of skin breaks off, she is practically euphoric. “I feel much better now.”

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Evil Dead Oldsmobile

22. A Forceful Wind

Evil Dead II (1987)

The most consistent thing throughout the original trilogy, besides Ash’s sculpted chin, is “The Force.” And it ain’t that warm fuzzy Star Wars crap. No, this is a mean, invisible wrath of Satan that comes calling in an eerily smooth motion over land, water, and Oldsmobile. Raimi, who achieved this effect by mounting his camera on a 2×4  and running as fast as he could through the woods, used the visual so much that it became a calling card of the franchise.

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Yet, almost no version used it better than when it comes calling for Ash near the beginning of Evil Dead II. Raimi and co. outdid themselves when several seamlessly connected shots created the effect of it searching desperately for Ash by soaring through woods, the 1973 automobile classic itself, and finally into the house. It follows him around every corner and through every room. Fortunately, Ash outsmarts the demonic energy by dropping through the cellar door… but it will be back.

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21. Book Lover

Army of Darkness

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Ash Williams can be called many things. Brave. Stupid. Oblivious. Hellbent on damning everyone he ever met due to his own incompetence. But something no one will ever accuse him of being is a bibliophile. So, when he is forced to work through not one, but THREE Necronomicon Books of the Dead, he does not exactly finish the assignment.

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First, he picks the wrong one… twice, resulting in almost being dragged down to Hell and getting bitten by a flying vampire book. Then, once he finally has the right Necronomicon, he muffs the wise man’s words he had ignored earlier. Instead of saying, “Klaatu barada nikto,” he mumbles the first few space age syllables and ends on a cough. Yeah, Ash, I’m sure you tricked the demonic force that killed your girlfriend in the last two movies and murdered all your buddies. Yep, no terrible repercussions could exist from screwing with demonic magic here. Not a chance.

Evil Dead 2 Dancing Girlfriend

20. Linda’s Last Dance

Evil Dead II

Poor Linda. Besides being recast two times, the luckless girl probably takes the worst non-tree related abuse in all four Evil Dead films. She just cannot catch a break. Such is her lot when the Force, unhappy it could not find Ash in the cabin, resurrects her possessed corpse from the cold ground in which Ash had laid her. She rises with all the jerky animated glory of stop motion to perform a beautiful ballet solo for a horrified Ash. “Dance with me,” the rotting corpse pleads with her lover. Methinks Ash will sit this one out, thanks.

19. “Shop S-Mart”

Army of Darkness

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Ash had a Hell of a day when he climbed out of the pit. Beaten, spit upon, and served up to Deadites, one can understand why the chainsaw-handed Yankee in an Arthurian-like Court is a bit testy. Seeing him stand before a castle full of primates trying to touch the awesomeness of his shotgun is a wonderful moment for the discount retail clerk from the future.

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“Shop smart,” he says between seething breaths while holding his Boomstick above the cowed populace. “Shop S-Mart.” Ash has finally found an audience who will give him the respect he’s always desired. God help them all.

Jessica Lucas Evil Dead

18. Girl Needs to Shut Her Face

Evil Dead (2013)

Olivia can’t fight this feeling anymore. As the most stubborn and condescending of Mia’s friends who came to the cabin to “help” the recovering addict, there is just something gnawing at the inside of Olivia about this whole situation. Luckily, when possessed Mia vomits up a geyser of fluorescent blood(?) onto Olivia’s face, she knows what it is. The med student with all the answers and who is quick to talk down to her friends finally listens to something else.

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Yes, the Book of the Dead is right. You SHOULD cut a giant hole in your face with a shard of mirror glass. Tongue in the way? Who needs that? Give it a slice too. One can be surprised by how many terrors fit into a mouth when there are no lips.

Army of Darkness Boomstick

17. Gun Based Morality

Army of Darkness

The concept of doubles, evil twins, and doppelgangers are nothing new to fiction. However, nobody has handled the situation better than Ash Williams. When an evil doppelganger literally grows as a second head out of Ash’s shoulder (don’t ask), it yanks him around a darkened forest for a beating worthy of The Three Stooges. When finally separated, the second chin reveals that he is “Bad Ash” and that our hero is nothing but a little goody two-shoes. It would seem like a fair argument until the shotgun is shoved in his face.

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“Good? Bad? I’m the guy with the gun.” Ash smirks after he pulls the trigger. You can take your fancy-schmancy morality play somewhere else. Like a six-foot deep hole Ash will dig for your dismembered body.

Evil Dead Lightbulb Blood

16. …WTF?

The Evil Dead (1981)

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That’s about all that needs to be said of the last 20 minutes or so of the film that birthed the legend. The greatest video nasty starts its third act with Ash descending into the Tenth Circle of a surrealist Hell. Light bulbs, film projectors, and even electrical sockets fill with blood before exploding… just because they can. Pipes burst open with the blood pressure of a water cannon. Every corner of the cabin is distorted by sound effects of doom.

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When the camera circles Ash’s skull in an upside-down motion, it sounds like a plane is crashing. As the hands on the grandfather clock act as berserk as any other head-spinning demon in the series, the bells chime from impossible Dutch angles across Ash’s face. Even the mirror he touches for a reprieve of sanity swallows his hand in a pool of reflective blood. It may be better if he just joins them, so long as this nightmarish madness will end!

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Evil Dead 2 Bruce Campbell Flies

15. A Forced Ride

Evil Dead II

Director Raimi admits that Ash is supposed to die when the Force comes to claim the lone survivor in The Evil Dead’s final shot. But to quote Sam, “Bruce was saved by… positive box office response!”

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This led to the greatest retcon in film history when Evil Dead II, more or less, opens with Ash in mid-flight as the Force jumps his bones. It is a whirlwind of camp terror that flings his body through trees, branches and somersaults before carefully bringing him down for a muddy landing. When Ash raises his face from the muck, it is revealed that he has become a Deadite! Wasn’t it so much easier when you finally joined them, buddy? Too bad the sun comes up to save his soul by expelling the entity, and Ash must play hard to get with the Force for another night.

Army of Darkness Deadite Fight

14. A Slave to the Dead

Army of Darkness

When Army of Darkness begins, our hero stoically intones, “My name is Ash and I am a slave.” His entire introduction in the third movie is one of trial and tribulation. Simply because he fell out of the sky with a chainsaw for a hand and a 1973 classic yellow Oldsmobile, circa 1300, then English noblemen (in a desert?) seem certain that he is a harbinger of Deadite Doom. Actually they might have a point…

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In any event, they chain him up, march him across hot sands and feed him to a pit filled with Deadites that just spewed gore from its last victim. With only his trusty chainsaw hand, Ash has to rely on his long history of Deadite-killing prowess to escape the torture chamber. Even his would-be love interest, Sheila, chooses to spit in his face. Some time-traveling narcissists can’t catch a break!

Evil Dead Cheryl Deadite

13. Taking a Stab at Cards

The Evil Dead

Everyone loves a good card trick. And gang, Cheryl has one hell of a surprise to hers! While Linda and Shelly practice “ESP” with cards to pass the time because Ash is doing big boy stuff by listening to a tape recorder on demonic possession, Cheryl sits ostracized in a corner. Nobody wants to talk to the crazy girl who knows about evil forces in the woods. Yet, she gets everyone’s attention when her distorted voice predicts every card in Linda’s hands. They should have even applauded when she levitates above them.

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“YOU WILL DIE LIKE THE OTHERS BEFORE YOU! ONE BY ONE WE WILL TAKE YOU…” After Cheryl collapses, applause may have been better than checking on her. When Linda goes to help her friend, she gets a pencil shoved into the deepest, gooiest, and most painful reaches of her ankle.

How’s that for a twist?

12. “It’s a trick. Get an axe.”

Army of Darkness

Ash is a slow learner considering he let another new friend fall for Cheryl’s trick in Evil Dead II. So, when the gag comes up for a second encore in Army of Darkness, he is finally prepared. After a possessed crone interrupts the groveling of Sheila, a reformed Ash groupie, he stops a knight from touching the collapsed old woman. “WE SHALL FEAST ON YOUR SOUL,” she triumphantly hisses before the attack. By the time Ash is done with her, all she got was a generous helping of Boomstick shell spray. Yo, She-Bitch, go ahead and eat all you want!

11. I’m Hunting My Hand…Hahaha!!!

Evil Dead II

The hardest targets to hit are the smallest ones. Ash knows this better than most when his prey of choice tends to be his own hand. They parted on violent terms. Having lopped the demonic appendage off, it hops around the cabin like Bugs Bunny to Ash’s Elmer Fudd. When he thinks he has popped a shot of it in the wall, a fountain of blood spews from the paneling onto his face. It’s so funny that the mounted deer’s head on the wall gives him a good laugh. When the rest of the furniture joins in, Ash also gets a case of the giggles.

Evil Dead Linda Betsy Baker

10. “Not another peep…”

The Evil Dead (1981)

There is just something twisted about an evil nursery rhyme being sung in a child’s voice. It is even more unsettling when that distorted little girl’s voice is coming out of fully-grown (and possessed) Linda. The China Doll of Deadites laughs mercilessly as she taunts Ash, “WE’RE GONNA GET YOU, NOT ANOTHER PEEP, TIME TO GO TO SLEEP.” She doesn’t even stop when Ash buries her alive.

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It’s such a great moment that it became the centerpiece of the Evil Dead remake’s red band trailer where the song is recited to even more skin-crawling effect by Jane Levy’s put-upon Mia. It’s a shame the song is oddly absent from the final film.

Army of Darkness Gimme Some Sugar

9. “Gimme some sugar, baby”

Army of Darkness

Too much of Ash Williams can be a bad thing. Fair courtly maiden Sheila truly realizes this even before the Deadites bring her before what’s left of Evil Ash. Having already confronted “Good” Ash about the vows they made on their shared night, the only excuse he could give was, “That’s just pillow talk, baby.”

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Somehow, I doubt Evil Ash did much talking after mentioning sugar. The way he rips her clothes off and forces his crispy lips in her mouth is at least tasteful compared to the OTHER rape scenes in these movies. There is a pattern here that I will leave to the comments for anyone who wants to go there…

Army of Darkness You Found Me Beautiful Once

8. “You found me beautiful once…”

Army of Darkness

…Deadite and sexually liberated Sheila tells Ash when she’s cornered him. “Honey,” Ash deadpans. “You got real ugly.”

Just to recap: Ash seduces chaste Sheila and then he tries to leave her to the Army of Darkness when he gets the spell to take him back home; he then fails to save her from being kidnapped and ravaged by Evil Ash. And thus when finally faced with his complete failure in the eyes of yet another possessed lover that he has let be consumed by the forces of Hell, Ash just shrugs and quips before stabbing her with a spear and throwing her off a high wall.

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Damn girl, maybe you should “feel good” as a Deadite. At least Evil Ash lets you have a leadership role in the army. Perhaps the entire series is a metaphor for the necessity of women’s independence?

7. Taste the Chainsaw

Evil Dead (2013)

Mia has gotten it worse than Ash ever did. The recovering heroin addict had enough trouble on her mind this weekend before a demonic entity forced her into heavy botany. Once possessed, she spreads the evil to friends in a very hands-on way and is finally buried alive by her own brother in a mad attempt to save her soul. By the time it literally starts raining blood and she is the last unclaimed soul standing, she has suffered enough trauma to fill a dozen rehab centers.

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Still, it all feels worth it when the one-armed new-franchise heroine corners the evil force with a chainsaw. The demon cries, “I WILL FEAST ON YOUR SOUL!” She revs the old power tool up and flosses it in between the entity’s gums with the finesse of a dental student. “Feast on this, motherfucker.” It is bloody beautiful the way little chunks of flesh, bone, and eyeball splatter across Mia’s face as gore truly rains from the heavens. 

6. Goodbye, Linda

Evil Dead II

It must have struck Ash around the time the detatched head of Linda bit into his hand that he is just not that into this girl anymore. It’s as if when he rushes the chewy head to the nearby tool shed and traps it into a vice, he is trying to articulate that they need some space. “EVEN NOW, WE HAVE YOUR DARLING LINDA’S SOUL! SHE SUFFERS IN TORMENT!”

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Ash can’t even manage a shrug about Linda’s eternally damned fate. “You’re going down,” he says with added finger pointing emphasis to the way-too mouthy head. I guess the split is official when the chainsaw cuts her face in half.

5. “Does that sound fine?”

Evil Dead II

To Ash’s credit, he has a conscience about parting from Linda with such a harsh break. When he returns to the cabin, he looks at his blood soaked face in the mirror for reassurance. “Everything’s fine,” he mutters.

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Yet once again, it is up to Evil Ash to at least be a rough proxy to a conscience for the hero. The reflection’s arms reach through the mirror and grab a supposedly good Ash by the throat. “I don’t think so. We just cut our girlfriend up with a chainsaw. Does that sound fine?” As the evil laugh fades, Ash realizes his hand is strangling him. Oh, the joys are to come.

Evil Dead Remake Jane Levy Cut Tongue Knife

4. Some Bloody Intense Tongue Action

Evil Dead (2013)

The tongue is a very sensitive organ. Its delicate feeling can experience (or cause) great pleasure. That may be why when Deadite Mia scalds herself in the shower an audience only winces, but when she splits her tongue right down the middle with a box cutter like it’s a UPS package, every member in the house screams bloody murder.

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Sadly Mia has difficulty reading those signals, as seen when she then shoves her tongue(s) down Natalie’s less than receptive throat. Jane Levy goes for broke here as she plays two-man tonsil hockey with Elizabeth Blackmore–thus giving new meaning to sucking face (and souls).

3. Hail to the King

Army of Darkness

Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell have given us many great things. Ash Williams; Deadites; the best cameos in superhero movie history. Yet, they are not infallible. The original ending to Army of Darkness is terrific stuff, but the theatrical ending is what mythmaking is sown from. When Ash successfully returns to the ‘90s in this closer, he is left with skeptical co-workers played by Ted Raimi and S-Mart shoppers who are far too attractive.

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What serendipity it must be then that Ash’s spellbinding screw-ups cause a less sexy shopper to be converted into a Deadite at that exact moment. Armed with the store’s top of the line winchester rifle, Ash interrupts the succubus. “Lady, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave the store.” When commanded to give his title, he replies with a smirk, “The name’s Ash. Housewares.” With an improbably overloaded rifle, Ash takes one last She-Bitch down and gets another young hot thing that he can probably leave for Hell in a few days. 

Hail to the King, baby.

Evil Dead Cheryl Tree

2. Extreme Tree Hugging

The Evil Dead (1981)

And then there’s this scene. The very definition of “problematic.” And while it is not one we can condone, it is also arguably the nastiest of the quintessential Video Nasty.

In the most infamous moment of all four Evil Dead films, Cheryl–cliché dumb horror girl and Ash’s little sister–wanders off into the scary woods wearing only a robe. Of course she is attacked by the evil forces. But they have more than mutilation or demon possession on their collective mind. To put it delicately, the tree rounds second base before spreading her legs to make room for a branch in a spot where no branch should ever go.

This scene got the film slapped with an X-rating in the UK and U.S., and is a scene that Raimi even apologized for in the ‘80s. The mea culpa still did not stop him from letting it happen to Mia in the remake, who is even painfully set up to love trees with a special ornament around her neck. Yikes. That is almost as bad as knowing that Cheryl is played by Ellen Sandweiss… Raimi’s childhood friend. 

1. Give Ash a Hand

Evil Dead II

Kill and damn his little sister? Fine. Murder all his friends? They were kind of douchey, anyway. Take his girlfriend away to eternal torment? He can always get more of those. But for God’s sake, give him back his hand! In the Deadites’ greatest cruelty, they possess his favorite hand to the point where it beats him sillier than Larry, Curly and Mo combined. Half dead, a dementedly laughing Ash does the only thing he can. He stabs the sucker with a butcher’s knife and revs the chainsaw up one more time. “Who’s laughing now,” he cackles at the devious digits. We are Ash. We are laughing so hard at your bloody handiness.

So, did we forget anything? Is there one moment of such stomach-churning brilliance that we should be forced to read from the Book of the Dead for omitting it? If so, feel free to add to the missing pages of grueling terror in the Comments Section below. Until then, stay groovy.

David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter @DCrowsNest.