What Makes the Horror Franchise so Special

May 17, 2023

There are many famous horror franchises in cinema, each with its own unique flair that has garnered them devoted fans and countless sequels, but none of them are quite as unique as The Evil Dead franchise. Started by Sam Raimi as an incredibly humble debut feature that resulted in a surprisingly effective horror tale of teens trapped in a cabin with a demonic spirit has now led to two sequels, two spin-offs, and a television show, each feeling not quite like other films of their genre due to the trademarked established by Raimi in his initial trilogy.

What is it that makes Evil Dead so special? There isn’t exactly one reason, but multiple tied to a unifying philosophy of creativity, inventiveness, and fun that has made each iteration so exciting for so many. Here are some of the reasons Evil Dead is a film franchise like no other.

A Living Camera

Renaissance Pictures

One of the most iconic images in the Evil Dead films is the camera flying through the woods, representing the evil force that is hurdling toward its unsuspecting victims. It’s a fun image Raimi accomplished by bolting the camera to a long piece of wood and having two people hold each end and run through the woods with it. It’s also fitting that this became such an iconic image, since the camera is made to be a living force in the film, with an exaggerated movement that doesn’t end with this one shot.

Raimi constantly manipulates the camera with bold, intense movements that heighten all the emotions of the films. He tilts the camera to impossibly bizarre angles, rushes into quick shots to intensify every action, and he gets the camera ridiculously close to the actor’s faces to thrust viewers into the film. While other films use the camera to an expressive effect, no one does it with as much gusto and personality as Raimi does in his Evil Dead movies.

It’s a definite trademark of the films that when any other filmmaker mimics it always calls back to those original films, best seen in the spin-off films that use these techniques to tie their film back to the franchise. Everyone has to use a camera to make a movie, but few make the camera a character like Sam Raimi does in Evil Dead.

Related: Sam Raimi Says Evil Dead Wasn’t the Original Title of the Horror Film Franchise


Renaissance Pictures

Every horror film has gags, creative tricks done for a gruesome kill that shock and delight viewers everywhere, yet none feel quite as creative as Evil Dead. The films are packed with incredible moments of demon eyes flying out of eye sockets into screaming mouths, multiple geysers of blood each being a different color, and mischievous miniature versions of our hero that crawl around biting him and throwing objects at his head.

To best illustrate this point, let’s look at what happens to Ash William’s hand in the franchise’s peak, Evil Dead II. After being bitten by the possessed severed head of his now-dead girlfriend, Ash’s hand becomes infected with the evil, which is shown visually in the increasingly grotesque discoloration of the hand as it is being corrupted. Ash realizes this when his own hand begins attacking him in a wacky Three Stooges-esque sequence that results in Ash cutting it off with a chainsaw.

This does not end the attack, as the hand begins crawling around the cabin and hiding in the walls while Ash shoots at it with a shotgun, which ends with a geyser of black blood blasting him in the face. It’s insane, wacky, and just plain fun, just as Evil Dead should be.

Related: Bruce Campbell Only Has One Condition to Reprise His Evil Dead Character Onscreen

Tonal Anarchy

Rosebud Releasing Corporation

What sets Evil Dead apart from its peers more than anything is its willingness to disregard everything in favor of inventive fun. While the movies did start as an effective no-budget horror film that can still terrify viewers today, the series has been more than willing to give up the scares for zany hi-jinx whenever it’s appropriate. This trend started as early as the beloved sequel that blends horror and comedy in the most masterful of ways, which only continued in its more adventurous sequel, Army of Darkness.

The spin-offs both chose to avoid this in favor of returning to the horror roots established in the first film while still trying to embrace the more wild elements the series allows, like in the 2013 remake’s shocking conclusion.

Either way, these movies have made it known that they can do anything they feel like, and it doesn’t need to make sense because it’s Evil Dead. Other horror franchises have attempted the shift to a comedy genre fusion approach as they continued, but none of them feel quite as gleefully lawless. Only Evil Dead has mastered and continued to excel at this in a way that’s always a joy to witness.

We can only hope to see the franchise jump back to its wackier fun in the future, but we’ll always have the masterpiece that is Evil Dead II to return to and an exciting future ahead of future spin-offs that will continue the legacy of this one-of-a-kind horror franchise.

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