The Most Disturbing Moments From The Evil Dead Series

There are very few film series that can match the "Evil Dead" franchise in terms of both comedy and disturbing levels of bloodshed. Born from the mind of director Sam Raimi, the original film was a true proving ground for Raimi and his friends, producer Robert Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell. In spite of a miniscule budget and a difficult, often problematic production, the film went on to become a sleeper box office success. It was such a hit that it spawned two theatrical sequels, with one on the way for 2023, plus a quality remake and a short-lived television series.

The character of Ash Williams has become an action-horror icon in his own right and helped turn Bruce Campbell into a celebrated genre actor. The series is best known for its disturbing imagery that somehow manages to be both grotesque yet somehow simultaneously hilarious. The series has had countless moments that have left fans squirming, and we're going to list just a few for those brave enough to read on. So lock your doors and grab your boomsticks, because these are the most disturbing moments from the "Evil Dead" series.

The Deadites are summoned

"The Evil Dead" definitely sets the stage for the rest of the franchise, especially when it comes to its gore, violence and offbeat tone. Despite having a budget of less than $500,000, Sam Raimi knew exactly what corners to cut and where to point the camera. While the acting, at times, can be a bit cringey, the film's unhinged and disturbing tone more than makes up for it. The film's crude cinematography, as well as its rustic setting, only add to the macabre flavor, making for a truly disturbing experience. 

After we've been introduced to the main group of teens and the decrepit cabin they'll be staying in, things quickly go sideways. The group discovers items in the basement, including a bizarre looking book with a face, as well as an ancient dagger and recordings belonging to the previous resident. The recordings, belonging to archaeologist Raymond Knowby, include a full ancient incantation for summoning demonic spirits. As the words are spoken, an eerie force begins to manifest in the woods via smoke and sinister red lights emerging from beneath the leaves. One of the teens, named Cheryl (Ellen Sandweiss), shouts violently for them to turn it off, just as a branch shatters the window from outside. For a film mostly remembered for its shocking gore and violence, this is a very disturbing, atmospheric scene.

Cheryl is possessed

Following the incident with the recordings, Cheryl leaves the cabin later that night to investigate some bizarre noises. Anyone who's ever watched a horror film will probably already know that this is not going to end well for her. As if on cue, the forest itself begins to attack Cheryl, with twigs and branches grabbing onto her like restraints. In an even more disturbing twist, the branches begin to sexually assault her, making for one of the film's most horrific moments. Cheryl is shaken heavily by this, but after Ash agrees to take her into town, they discover that the bridge they used to get to the cabin is destroyed.

Soon after, the group settles down for the night with Shelly and Linda, Ash's girlfriend, playing spades as Ash continues listening to Knowby's tapes in the next room. Ash learns that if a human is possessed by a demonic entity, the only way to dispose of them is by bodily dismemberment. At the very moment, Cheryl goes from predicting the girls' cards to screaming like crazy and even floating off the ground! The now-possessed Cheryl stabs Linda in the ankle with a pencil before decking Ash and being knocked into the cellar by Scott. This is where the film really kicks into high gear.

We're gonna get you

As the night presses on, more of the teens are possessed by the demonic entities, including Shelly and Linda. First, Shelly (Theresa Tilly) is blindsided by a demon that attacks her through the window, quickly takes her over and assaults her boyfriend Scott (Richard DeManincor). After a scuffle, Scott is able to stab her with the ancient dagger before violently chopping her up with an axe. He then buries her out in the woods and decides to head into town to seek some form of help. However, Scott returns soon after, bleeding heavily after falling victim to a similar fate as Cheryl — being attacked by the forest's possessed trees.

Ash, now bereft of support, goes to check on a wounded Linda (Betsy Baker), who suddenly springs up, now fully possessed, with a doll-like grin. This is where the possessed teens begin to mock Ash and Scott, especially Linda, who even starts creepily singing. With her new distorted demonic voice, Linda begins singing, "We're gonna get you. We're gonna get you. Not another peep, time to go to sleep." This moment has become so iconic in its own right that the 2013 reimagining even paid tribute to it within its deleted scenes. Creepy, off-putting and somehow morbidly hilarious, this moment is a perfect microcosm of what makes the "Evil Dead" franchise so great.

The book is burned

The climax of "The Evil Dead" is still one of horror's creepiest endings, even more than 40 years after its original theatrical release. It has been the longest night of Ash Williams' life and it isn't even close to over yet. After disposing of the possessed Linda, Ash reenters the cabin, only to discover that the possessed Cheryl has finally escaped the cellar. In no time flat, Ash is swarmed by Cheryl and Scott's possessed bodies, both looking to horrifically mutilate him. Despite his best efforts, including gouging Scott's eyes out, the demonic double team proves too much and Ash seems utterly doomed.

However, just as his death seems imminent, Ash chucks the Book of the Dead into the fireplace, setting it ablaze. This causes his possessed friends to freeze in place before beginning to disintegrate in front of Ash. This includes stop-motion animation decay, plus blood and guts, as well as demonic hands, exploding from their grotesque, flailing bodies! Top it all off with the book itself screaming in agony as it burns and you have the makings of a cacophony of disturbing insanity.

When morning comes, Ash leaves the cabin, covered in blood but relieved that his nightmare is finally over. This is before a final demonic entity emerges from the woods and rushes through the house, attacking Ash just as the film cuts to black. A grim ending for sure, but one that provided that perfect bow with which to tie up this now-classic horror film.

Ash is chased through the woods

One of the funny things about "Evil Dead 2" is that it's actually both a sequel and soft remake of the first film. As explained in "The Evil Dead Companion" by Bill Warren, the picture was sold to so many different countries that it made reusing footage nearly impossible. This meant the creators had to essentially remake the original film for the opening recap, only this time whittling down the cast to Ash and Linda. This results in the sequel picking up from where the previous one had left off, with Ash being attacked by a remaining demonic spirit. Ash is revealed to be possessed but is temporarily returned to normal by the rising of the sun, putting the evil at bay temporarily.

Ash immediately rushes back to the cabin, grabs his battered Oldsmobile and rightfully attempts to flee the woods. However, much like in the first film, the bridge is destroyed, meaning that Ash is still trapped for the foreseeable future. It's at this time that the sun vanishes behind some clouds, meaning the looming demonic evil can attack again. The entity gives chase with Ash riding off in the Oldsmobile, although we're never explicitly shown what is chasing him. It takes the POV trick used in the first film and enhances it to better showcase just how unrelenting it is. This includes smashing in and out of Ash's car and subsequently chasing him through the entire cabin before he gives it the slip.

Ash cuts off his hand

Once back at the cabin, Ash must again contend with the possessed version of his girlfriend Linda, who he buried the previous night. While sitting down, Ash is suddenly menaced by Linda's severed head, which latches onto his hand and won't let go. After smashing her head into just about every conceivable surface, Ash eventually secures it in a metal vice to dispose of it. The rest of Linda's body then shows up with a chainsaw before Ash turns the tables and finally finishes her off. But Ash's problems are far from over, as it seems that Linda's bite has infected his hand with demonic evil.

This results in Ash getting into a "Three Stooges"-inspired battle with his own hand, which proceeds to smash plates and other kitchenware over Ash's head. This is definitely on brand, as Sam Raimi is a self-professed fan of "The Three Stooges" and has often received questions about it from fans. The rogue limb has the — pun very much intended here — upper hand on Ash until he pins it to the floor with a knife. Going fully manic, Ash revs up the chainsaw with his teeth and asks his hand, "Who's laughing now?!," before cutting it off. Equal parts disturbing and hilarious, there's a reason this sequence has become a fan favorite moment to many "Evil Dead" fans.

Henrietta attacks

Midway through "Evil Dead 2," Ash is joined at the cabin by a new group of people — Raymond Knowby's daughter Annie (Sarah Berry), her partner Ed Getley (Richard Domeier), and two locals named Jake (Dan Hicks) and Bobby Joe (Kassie Wesley). Upon arriving, with Annie's parents gone and Ash covered in blood, the group quickly turns on him and throws him in the fruit cellar. Ash is left vulnerable down in the cellar as the group upstairs listens to Raymond Knowby's recordings regarding the demons. Knowby reveals that after he dismembered his possessed wife Henrietta, he disposed of her by burying her body in the fruit cellar.

Now, you might be thinking, didn't this group of brain surgeons just throw Ash in that very cellar just a moment ago? The answer is yes, with a decayed Henrietta then emerging from the dirt floor to scare Ash out of his wits. Ash begins frantically begging the group upstairs to let him out as a demented Henrietta grows closer and closer. Ash is released just as Henrietta reaches the stairs, displaying her new demonic form for all to see. This is yet another example of the film's hardy balance of legitimately unnerving suspense and pitch-black comedy.

Ash sprouts a clone

"Army of Darkness" is definitely an outlier among the "Evil Dead" series, both in terms of its tone and presentation. First off, the film is the grandest out of the original trilogy, abandoning the cabin in the woods aesthetic for a medieval supernatural adventure. Secondly, compared to the preceding two films, the third is noticeably lighter in tone, but still boasts a few disturbing moments.

Following the conclusion of "Evil Dead 2," Ash is thrust back in time via a magic portal and lands in the Middle Ages. After a misunderstanding, Ash is hailed as some form of chosen one, destined to rid the land of the Deadite menace — "Deadite" being the official term for the succession of evil beings brought forth by the Necronomicon aka the Book of the Dead.

Ash is soon sent on a quest to retrieve the book so he can destroy the Deadites and return to his own time period. En route to the book's location, Ash is menaced by a legion of mini-Ash clones after being chased into a windmill. One of these mini-Ashes is able to go down his throat, resulting in Ash budding a full grown Ash duplicate from his body. In no time flat, the body snatcher grows from an eyeball on his shoulder to a wisecracking second head. Ash eventually separates himself and disposes of his doppelganger, who returns later on as the film's big bad.

Mia is possessed

Horror remakes are always a gamble in terms of quality, with many additions from the 2000s and 2010s falling short of their predecessors. However, in a welcome twist, the Fede Álvarez-helmed "Evil Dead" reboot was more than a worthy addition to the franchise. Not only is the film off the charts in terms of violence, but it manages to do its own thing while still paying tribute to the original.

The best example of this comes when Mia (Jane Levy) attempts to flee the cabin where she's undergoing her drug detox. After one of her friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), reads from the Necronomicon that was found in the basement, Mia begins to see horrific visions of a bloodstained girl. With none of her friends believing her due to her withdrawal symptoms, Mia proceeds to steal Eric's car and drive off. Unfortunately, due to another disturbing vision, Mia crashes off the road, forcing her to flee into the woods. She's then confronted by the same demonic vision as before, just as the trees and vines around her come to life. All Mia can do is cry out as one of the demonic vines slithers between her legs and enters her body, possessing her. It's a solid tribute to the attack on Cheryl from the original film, while also taking it in a visually fresh and disturbing direction.

Deadite Olivia attacks Eric

After Mia is brought back, her possession soon becomes more evident, especially after her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) finds their dog beaten to death with a hammer. David goes to talk to Mia about it, only to find her scalding herself in the shower with boiling hot water. Shortly after, Mia injures David with a shotgun and pukes blood-like vomit all over her friend Olivia's face before being locked in the basement. In the aftermath, Olivia (Jessica Lucas) heads into the bathroom to wash up before it becomes clear she isn't alone. Eric eventually goes to check on her and walks in to see Olivia carving her face open with a piece of the bathroom mirror.

She quickly attacks a horrified Eric and even stabs him in the face several times with a hypodermic needle. This leads to an excruciating moment where Eric has to pull the broken end of the needle out of the flesh under his eye. He's eventually able to fight off and kill Olivia, but this is all the confirmation he needs that something demonic is afoot. From here, the film continues to escalate, continually outdoing its own madness and mayhem in scene after scene.

That box cutter scene

If there's one rule in the "Evil Dead" franchise, it's that you should never, under any circumstances, go down into the basement. After Olivia is dispatched by Eric, the possessed Mia lures Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore), David's girlfriend, into the cellar by pretending to be okay. The audience obviously knows that Mia is the furthest thing from okay and is just preying on Natalie's innocence. This trickery works and poor Natalie goes down the basement stairs to help Mia, a decision that she'll soon regret. Mia quickly reveals to Natalie's horror that yes, she is very much still possessed, and then bites her on the hand.

She follows this up by grabbing a nearby box cutter and licking it up the blade, cutting her own tongue in half. Following this gruesome act, she proceeds to one-up herself by planting a sloppy kiss on Natalie's lips — getting black slime all over her face in the process. Compared to the Henrietta scene from "Evil Dead 2," this scene is infinitely more emotionally distressing and viscerally disgusting. It's not at all shocking that this horrific scene still sticks with fans even a decade after its initial release.

The Abomination rises

One of the most interesting things about the "Evil Dead" remake is how it plays with your expectations heading into the third act. With Mia possessed and most of her friends dead, the film seems like it's going to make either David or Eric the surrogate stand-in for Ash. This gets knocked for a loop when David discovers that Mia might not be beyond saving and can be purified by being buried. After a final confrontation with Mia, Eric is mortally wounded, leaving David to bury Mia outside in an attempt to save her. After burying her, David hears that Mia's heart has stopped beating, which leads him to try and jolt her awake with a DIY defibrillator.

In an unexpected twist, this plan actually works and the evil entity inside Mia is fully expelled. However, just before they can ride off to safety, a possessed Eric attacks David, causing the latter to set the house ablaze. With David and Eric both dead, this means enough victims have been claimed to summon the Abomination mentioned in the Necronomicon. Sure enough, the Abomination does rise and gives chase to Mia, who has officially become the film's surprise final girl. A disturbing reveal of a monster plus some clever subversion of the fans' expectations make for a top-tier moment in the series.

Kelly's mom is a Deadite

After many long years of waiting, fans were convinced they'd never see Bruce Campbell back as Ash for a new "Evil Dead" movie. While his cameo in the 2013 reboot's credits was a treat to be sure, it was a far cry from what fans actually wanted. However, when it was announced that Ash would return in a new television series, fans were ecstatic. After much anticipation, the first season of "Ash Vs. Evil Dead" premiered on Halloween night in 2015 via the Starz channel.

The series picks up 30 years after the original films. Ash is content with his day-to-day life until, via his standard buffoonery, he unleashes the Deadite evil once again. Along for the ride this time around are two new characters named Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), two of Ash's co-workers from S-Mart.

In Episode 2, the Deadite problem worsens when it appears that Kelly's mother, who was thought to be deceased, inexplicably resurfaces. Ash is all too ready to bust out the boomstick to handle the matter but Kelly and her father are dead set on keeping her around. This all comes to a head during a tense dinner when, following a preemptive punch by Ash, Kelly's mother reveals her Deadite form. Add Kelly's father getting a fork through the eye socket and you have a reveal perfectly in tune with the series' disturbing brand of comedy.

Ash's doppelgänger kills Amanda

Season 1 of "Ash Vs. Evil Dead" introduces a new character named Amanda (Jill Marie Jones), a state police detective who becomes intertwined in Ash's escapades. After her partner is killed by a Deadite, she soon becomes the ride along for Ruby (Lucy Lawless), a mysterious woman with ample knowledge about Ash and the book. She even has Ash's old hand that he'd cut off 30 years prior as some form of supernatural compass. Eventually, Amanda links up with Ash, Kelly and Pablo, joining them as they decide to head back to the cabin where Ash's ordeal all originally began.

Later on the group is separated, leaving Ash and Amanda to explore the old cabin by themselves. Soon enough, a new threat arrives in the form of an imposter Ash, spawned from his rotting hand that scampered off during the previous episode. What makes this part so brutal is that a nice amount of time is dedicated to Ash and Amanda becoming friendly with each other. Lured in by the imposter Ash, Amanda ends up impaled on a deer antler in the cabin's living room, much to Ash's horror and sadness. The fact that Amanda later comes back as a sadistic Deadite makes this disturbing all across the board — in classic "Evil Dead" tradition.