The 10 Best Sam Raimi Movies, Ranked

Bust out your boomsticks, Raimi-acs!

Bust out your boomsticks my Raimi-acs because Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is finally in theaters! For those who can’t get enough of the iconoclast’s work, I thought we would take a look back at some of Raimi’s classics. This was no easy task when you have a director that has churned out mostly bangers, but I narrowed it down to his top ten. The best of the best. The cream of the crop. The Necro of the nomicron. You get the idea.

Recommended Videos

10. The Gift (2000)

This often-overlooked Raimi film is actually, strangely, one of my go-to comfort movies. Perhaps because it could always be found playing on TNT or USA in the middle of the day, when I was home sick from school, but The Gift, while perhaps a lesser Raimi effort, still rules. Cate Blanchett is a psychic in the deep south, who tries to help her various clients but mostly just wants to live her dang life in peace when Jessica, the town’s the beautiful and rebellious party girl (played by Katie Holmes during her peak Dawson’s Creek days) is murdered. The ensemble cast of Hillary Swank, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greg Kinnear is stellar, and overall it is a classic, late ’90s/early 2000s murder mystery/thriller. It might be uneven in parts, but overall it’s a pretty great ride.

9. Darkman (1990)

Raimi’s first superhero movie! Raimi first attempted to secure the rights for Batman and The Shadow, but when he failed he did what he does best—create his own unique story! This time about a superpowered vigilante! Darkman tells the story of Peyton Westlake (Liam Neeson), a scientist who is left disfigured after a brutal attack by a ruthless mobster. An attempt to treat his burn injuries fails but leaves him with super-human powers … and also a bit psychotic. He becomes consumed with vengeance and obsessed with hunting down those responsible for disfiguring him. This was Liam Neeson’s first “action” role and he is terrific! Also, Frances McDormand plays his girlfriend. It’s an underrated gem and definitely worth checking out.

8. The Quick and The Dead (1995)

Another personal favorite and another underrated gem (only placed lower on this list because of how strong the majority of Raimi’s films are) is the 1995 western The Quick and The Dead. A revisionist history western, it stars Sharon Stone as “The Lady,” a gunfighter who rides into the town of Redemption to participate in a dueling competition in order to avenge her father’s death. It’s a tribute to classic spaghetti western tropes (Leonardo DiCaprio, pre-Titanic, plays Billy the Kid) but with Raimi’s signature twists. Gene Hackman plays the villainous outlaw that rules the town, Russell Crowe is the former criminal turned priest forced into the competition, and did I mention young Leonardo Dicaprio? It also has several smaller, cameo-type roles for Gary Sinise, Lance Henriksen, and Raimi’s pal Bruce Campbell. Frankly, it rules.

7. Spider-Man (2002)

The superhero film that relaunched the genre, Spider-Man is not quite as good as Raimi’s follow-up Spider-Man 2 but it is still a treasure. The performances are broad and the emotional beats are corny but that is what makes it great—because it gets to the heart of what the Spider-Man comic books were all about. Even with Peter Parker ejaculating webbing goo straight from his wrists and all over his room in a not-so-subtle metaphor for wet dreams, it’s a Raimi film of course it isn’t going to be subtle! But it is full of heart, and some iconic performances from Toby Maguire and Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin.

6. A Simple Plan (1998)

Probably Raimi’s most serious and straightforward film, A Simple Plan is a neo-noir crime thriller starring Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton, and Bridget Fonda. Paxton and Thornton play two brothers that discover a crashed plane with their pal and inside the plane is over 4 million dollars cash. Things begin to spiral out of control when Fonda, who plays Paxton’s wife, is told about the money and has ideas of her own about what they should do. Each subsequent decision made to protect their secret spirals into more and more gruesome murders, eventually with truly devastating consequences. It’s a tightly wrought noir and Raimi gets truly incredible performances out of all three actors.

5. Drag Me to Hell (2009)

When Raimi finally returned to the horror genre it was with the insane and insanely hilarious Drag Me to Hell. About a bank employee who is cursed after denying an old woman a loan, Drag Me to Hell is Raimi using all of his tricks and twists from Evil Dead but with a much, much bigger budget. Its dark, biting satire (it takes certain harmful stereotypes and turns them on their head), mixed with Raimi’s playful, almost gleeful monsters, makes it stand the test of time, even as certain CGI elements might not. 

4. Army of Darkness (1992)

I’ve learned recently that apparently Army of Darkness is not universally beloved and honestly I am shaken to my core. The end of Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy is a classic and I will not hear a word against it! Ash goes back in time to a medieval world full of demons and witches and also a tiny zombie Ash!? What is not to love!! The film leans fully into the comedic sensibilities of Evil Dead 2 and has some of Bruce Campbell’s most iconic lines. It is one hundred percent silly and it is perfect.

3. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

One of the best superhero movies, and definitely the best of the early-mid aughts, Spider-Man 2 is peak Raimi. The direction, tone, and performances are all pitch-perfect. The story is air-tight, and it gives us Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, a performance that I still find myself uncomfortably attracted to. Let’s be honest, Raimi is responsible for launching our current superhero craze into the stratosphere, and the proof is Spider-Man 2. The only reason this film isn’t in the number 2 spot is because 1 and 2 are—spoiler —kind of tied!

1. and 2.  Evil Dead 2 (1987) and Evil Dead (1981)

The firsts are sometimes the best! This choice was so difficult because both are classics of the genre and are also essentially the same movie (Evil Dead 2 being kind of a reboot of the first film). I only give 2 the slight edge because while Evil Dead gave us the first glimpse at the ingenuity and creativity of Raimi, but Evil Dead 2 is where he really mastered his tone. Raimi can do so much with so little, and boy in these films does he do a lot. Some have even said that Raimi is the father of the comedy-horror genre. His unique blend of slapstick and gore, combined with Bruce Campbell’s supreme commitment to the bit, are what make these two films the best of the best.

What are your favorite Sam Raimi movies? Let’s talk in the comments!

(image: Sony)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

 —The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more
related content
Read Article One of ‘Mad Max’s Most Iconic Villains Is Returning in ‘Furiosa’
Immortan Joe stares down at the camera, surrounded by his sons and henchmen.
Read Article Chris Pratt, Star of ‘Garfield,’ Doesn’t Like Lasagna and the Internet Is Rightfully Mad
Chris Pratt spotted out in Los Angeles
Read Article Max’s Best Friend: The True Story Behind ‘The Road Warrior’s Most Loyal Companion
Mel Gibson in Mad Max: The Road Warrior
Read Article Let’s See What Makes ‘Mad Max’s Newest Villain Tick
Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) stands in a tent surrounded by other gang members.
Read Article Oscar Isaac Is Our Lord and Savior (In His Next Movie)
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides in 'Dune'
Related Content
Read Article One of ‘Mad Max’s Most Iconic Villains Is Returning in ‘Furiosa’
Immortan Joe stares down at the camera, surrounded by his sons and henchmen.
Read Article Chris Pratt, Star of ‘Garfield,’ Doesn’t Like Lasagna and the Internet Is Rightfully Mad
Chris Pratt spotted out in Los Angeles
Read Article Max’s Best Friend: The True Story Behind ‘The Road Warrior’s Most Loyal Companion
Mel Gibson in Mad Max: The Road Warrior
Read Article Let’s See What Makes ‘Mad Max’s Newest Villain Tick
Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) stands in a tent surrounded by other gang members.
Read Article Oscar Isaac Is Our Lord and Savior (In His Next Movie)
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides in 'Dune'
Author
Brittany Knupper
Brittany is a lifelong Californian (it's a big state, she can't find her way out!) who currently resides in sunny Los Angeles with her gigantic, vaguely cat-shaped companion Gus. If you stumble upon her she might begin proselytizing about Survivor, but give her an iced coffee and she will calm down.