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Sam Raimi movies ranked (including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness)
Cult auteur Sam Raimi was one of the first filmmakers to prove the viability of the modern superhero blockbuster with his celebrated 2002 Spider-Man and its sequels. The genre has grown and shifted a lot in the decades since, but he’s now back in the game, directing the MCU’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
See also: Every M. Night Shyamalan movie ranked
Raimi’s mostly known for indie horror like his Evil Dead films, but there’s a lot more to him than that. This begs the question: what are the best Sam Raimi movies. Below, you’ll find every Sam Raimi movie ranked, along with where to watch them. Read on for our top picks, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Every Sam Raimi movie ranked
15. Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
At first glance, Oz the Great and Powerful looks like a perfectly fine adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, offering a new perspective on the famous story. Sadly, just about every detail feels off. The Disney prequel can’t decide if it wants to be an origin story for Oz himself or for the Wicked Witch of the West. The latter is ultimately the more sympathetic of the two, though she doesn’t get the screentime for any kind of satisfying resolution. While the film boasts some great performances — Michelle Williams is inspired casting as Glinda — James Franco is a painfully lacklustre lead. Raimi’s name may at first inspire hope, but the final product comes off like a rushed theme park ride by a studio that couldn’t secure the film rights to Wicked.
14. Crimewave (1985)
Raimi has a long history with the Coen brothers. Joel Coen was one of the editors of Raimi’s The Evil Dead, and Raimi helped the duo with their debut feature, Blood Simple. Then, the three co-wrote the script for this largely forgotten 1985 crime film. Crimewave follows a death-row inmate on the bizarre night that led up to his wrongful arrest. While Crimewave features some fun slapstick violence, dark humor, and B-movie camp, it’s not a great movie and certainly not among Raimi’s better efforts.
13. Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man 3 gets some undeserved hate, certainly. One of its most ridiculed scenes, in which a conspicuously emo Peter Parker struts and dances, is not played straight by any means. It still doesn’t really land though. And the film is a slog, packing too many villains into its runtime while losing a lot of the magic of its predecessors. The pacing is off, the themes are watered down, and the stakes feel strangely low. Spider-Man 3 is a sadly lacklustre finale to an otherwise terrific trilogy.
12. For Love of the Game (1999)
The black sheep of the Raimi film family, For Love of the Game is a rather mid-tier baseball movie with few ties to the filmmaker’s other works. An aging baseball player pitches the last game of his career as he reminisces about his years-long relationship with a woman who may be falling out of reach. For Love of the Game doesn’t break any new ground, and Raimi’s distinctive authorial voice feels mostly lost in the shuffle, but it’s a competent baseball movie and love story, with Costner very obviously well-suited to the role of the all-American ball player after his 80s turns in Field of Dreams and Bull Durham.
11. Darkman (1990)
More than a decade before setting his sights on Spider-Man, Raimi proved himself in the superhero genre with Darkman. The film follows scientist Peyton Westlake, who is brutally attacked when his girlfriend angers mobsters. When a cure for his burns fails, Westlake develops superhuman abilities as a side effect. His new strength comes with psychotic tendencies though. Raimi shows off his abilities as a big-budget studio filmmaker, crafting a taut thriller about a monstrous avenger with roots in pulp novels and Universal monster movies.
10. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
Billed as the MCU’s first horror film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is a refreshingly off-brand entry in the sprawling franchise. Raimi injects his distinct style into the film, with Strange making his way through the multiverse to save a young girl in need. With plenty of Marvel lore, cameos, and continued world-building, it’s an MCU title through and through, but it takes a few swerves into new territory, which is mostly welcome, even if it doesn’t quite rise to the top tier of the expanded narrative universe.
9. Army of Darkness (1992)
Easily the weakest link in the Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness is nevertheless a whole lot of fun and a great showcase for Raimi’s playful side — not to mention his love of imaginative practical effects. Picking up right where Evil Dead II left off, Army of Darkness sees hero Ash transported back in time, where he has to fight off armies of the undead and read from the Necronomicon to return home safely. Luckily, he’s armed with modern science and his trusty chainsaw and shotgun. Groovy!
8. The Gift (2000)
Directed from a script co-written by Billy Bob Thornton, The Gift is among Raimi’s most underrated films. His last horror film before directing Spider-Man, The Gift is a tight supernatural thriller about a small-town psychic who has visions about a murdered woman. Speaking up means inviting attention from a sheriff who sees her as a charlatan as well as the wrath of the dangerous men who are suspects in the case. While a few interesting thematic threads are left unexplored, the film is a beautifully haunting story, with Raimi leaning into the more subtle sides of his style. It also features some powerful performances from Cate Blanchett, J.K. Simmons, and more.
7. Spider-Man (2002)
Two decades ago, Sam Raimi effectively wrote the rulebook for a new breed of superhero film. Spider-Man leaned into its comic book roots while drawing in fans and novices alike. The film introduces audiences to Peter Parker, who becomes the superhero Spider-Man after being bitten by a radioactive spider and gaining superhuman abilities. Spider-Man remains a high benchmark for the genre and is one of Raimi’s best forays into blockbuster filmmaking, with some standout performances by Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, and Kirsten Dunst.
6. The Evil Dead (1981)
The film that put Sam Raimi on the map and launched a franchise remains a gem that’s tons of fun to revisit. With a bit less humor than the other Evil Dead films and series, The Evil Dead remains a key entry in the fan-fouvorite franchise. A group of friends vacationing at an isolated cabin unleash a curse when they read from a mysterious book, The Necronomicon or book of the dead, that they find in the basement. Working with a shoestring budget, Raimi proves that less is more and relies on his creativity and immense skill in this debut indie.
- The Evil Dead is not currently streaming anywhere.
5. The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Quentin Tarantino has become Hollywood’s de facto patron saint of spaghetti westerns with films like Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. But long before the cult auteur dabbled in the genre, Sam Raimi made the excellent (and arguably superior) The Quick and the Dead. A huge shift away from horror, the film still featured his signature, showy style, adapted to fit the themes and aesthetics of Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dollars. In The Quick and the Dead, a mysterious woman rides into a town to compete in a quick-draw tournament, secretly intent on killing the man who murdered her father. With knockout performances by Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s a great modern western, and one of Sam Raimi’s best movies.
4. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Raimi’s first film following his Spider-Man trilogy, Drag Me to Hell is a return to form of sorts. The small-scale horror film sees a bank loan officer rejecting an elderly woman’s request for an extension on her mortgage, condemning her to forfeiture and eviction. When the old woman puts a curse on her, the woman fights to escape the forces after her and avoid being dragged to hell. Drag Me to Hell came out amid the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis and is a smart and compassionate look at the suffering, uncertainty, and cruelty that marked a period of extreme hardship, all filtered through Raimi’s distinct slapstick humor and dark horror flourishes.
3. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Spider-Man 2 remains the best live-action Spider-Man movie, and it’s one of the best Sam Raimi movies. The film focuses on Peter Parker’s struggles to maintain his double life as a masked superhero and a working-class student with bills to pay. We watch Peter grapple with his choices and what it means to actively choose to be Spider-Man rather than treating it simply as a responsibility thrust upon him by fate. But turning his back on being Spidey comes at a great cost too, especially with Doctor Octopus on the loose in New York. Blending comedy, action, romance, and even a few hints of horror, Spider-Man 2 is a classic of the superhero genre and a perfect showcase of Raimi’s gifts as a filmmaker.
2. Evil Dead II (1987)
Ranking Evil Dead II on its own almost feels like cheating. It’s not a traditional sequel and really doesn’t exist without Raimi’s earlier The Evil Dead. It’s a reboot and a companion film, but it is the better title, often holding the number one spot in Sam Raimi movie rankings. Roughly repeating the structure of the 1981 original, it sees Ash, again played by Raimi mainstay and cult icon Bruce Campbell, heading to a deserted cabin with his girlfriend. Once there, they find a tape of a professor reading from The Necronomicon and unleash hellish evils upon themselves. The film blends chilling horror and unforgettable practical effects with Raimi’s signature outrageous sense of humor for a true horror classic.
1. A Simple Plan (1998)
A major outlier in Raimi’s career, A Simple Plan highlights the links between the filmmaker and his friends the Coen brothers. The film follows three men. Upon finding a bag of millions in a downed plane, the trio devises a simple plan to make off with riches. As the three clash over how to approach their windfall, things get increasingly complicated, and their allegiances are tested. With echoes of the Coens’ Fargo and Raimi’s own stripped-down indie style, A Simple Plan is a moving exploration of desperation and the failures of the American Dream. It ranks as the best Sam Raimi movie.
Those are our pics of the best Sam Raimi movies ranked. What’s your favorite Sam Raimi movie?