Horror fans subscribed to HBO Max will have a trio of iconic movies to check in September, as the Evil Dead films are coming to the streaming service next month. The first three movies in the franchise — The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1992) — will all be available for HBO Max watchers. Notably, the 2013 Evil Dead remake will not be joining the other films on HBO Max.
The Evil Dead was filmed in 1979 and opened in theaters two years later. Written and directed by Sam Raimi, the movie stars Bruce Campbell as Ashley Joanna “Ash” Williams, the reluctant protagonist who would go on to be the main character of the franchise. The Evil Dead was not a massive success upon its release but later found life as a cult classic film, which led to Raimi and Scott Spiegel writing a sequel, Evil Dead II. Again, the movie was not an overwhelming success at the box office, but also found a big audience after being release on home video.
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The third film, Army of Darkness, was written by Raimi and his older brother Ivan, with the younger Raimi once again directing. Ultimately, it was the success of Raimi’s supernatural horror film Darkman — which starred Liam Neeson in the title role — that gave Universal Pictures the confidence to fund the third Evil Dead movie. While this film too garnered a cult following later, it was also a financial success at the box office and received positive reviews from critics.
The Evil Dead franchise was basically quiet for the next two decades until Fede Álvarez directed the contentious Evil Dead remake in 2013, which he wrote with Rodo Sayagues. The film does not feature Campbell’s Ash as the main character, swapping him out for Mia Allen, played by Jane Levy (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist). The film made nearly $100 million at the box office but has been criticized by many for the lack of humor and absurdity that made the original trilogy stand out. However, defenders of the film have been just as vocal, arguing that the hyper-violence and darker tone works very well.
A fifth Evil Dead film is on the way, with filming currently underway in New Zealand. The new film is written and directed by Lee Cronin (50 States of Fright), and stars Alyssa Sutherland, Lily Sullivan, Gabrielle Echols, Morgan Davies, Nell Fisher, and Mia Challis. It will follow two sisters who are trying to survive a demonic attack while also saving their family from the wicked creature. The movie is set to debut on HBO Max in 2022.