Evil Dead Vs The Universal Monsters – The Greatest Horror Franchise Ever [Round 4]

Welcome to the Tournament of Terrors, a /Film bracket where we argue about the greatest horror franchise of all time, and you, the readers, get to decide the winners. The rules are simple: two iconic horror movie series enter the ring, each represented by a /Film writer ready to champion them. And you — yes, you, the person reading this right now — will vote on which one gets to move forward.

You can find all the details, including a schedule for all the showdowns, right here. And here is the complete bracket, so you know where things stand.

Last time, we saw galaxy's perfect killing machines facing off against death itself when "Alien" took on "Final Destination." Now, we have the grandfather of horror cinema battling the series that helped redefine independent horror. Yep, it's the classic "Universal Monsters" versus "Evil Dead." The old school versus the new school. The tragic and the grand versus the extreme and the inventive. Dozens of classic (and admittedly, not-so-classic) films that built the foundation for everything to come versus three movies and one remake that challenged what the genre could do. This bracket is all about tough choices, and we regret to force this decision upon you. 

Which one wins? That's up to you. First, the arguments. And then, you vote!

Evil Dead

Just over 40 years ago, writer/director Sam Raimi dropped out of Michigan State University and enlisted his high school filmmaking buddies to try their hand at making a feature. They somehow managed to scrounge up $350,000 from friends, credit cards, and family members, then they set off into the Tennessee wilderness to make their movie. That little film, 1981's "The Evil Dead," helped change the face of horror and gave indie creators everywhere a bit of hope that they could do it too. 

From its exceptionally modest beginnings, the "Evil Dead" franchise grew to encompass four great movies that range from truly horrific to silly fun, a television series with guts and heart, an entire universe of spin-off comic books, and some video games that are about as good as most movie video-game tie-ins. What's incredible about the movies and TV series is that they're all excellent — there isn't a bad entry among them and they all capture the slapstick spookiness of the franchise perfectly. Bruce Campbell as Ashley "Ash" Joanne Williams is the ultimate anti-hero, who starts his journey as a nebbish nerd and ends it as a one-man catchphrase machine. 

Sure, the Universal Monsters are classic. They're part of what started it all, but there's a big mix in quality, especially once you get to the more recent efforts. For every "Dracula" or "Bride of Frankenstein" there's something like Tom Cruise's "The Mummy" adaptation or "Dracula Untold." Besides, the Universal Monsters have a whole studio behind them, and I'm always gonna root for the little guy. Sam Raimi created an entire franchise with some hard work, good friends, and a camera mounted on a two-by-four, and that's worth celebrating. (Danielle Ryan)

The Universal Monsters

Do you know who would choose the Universal Monster films over the "Evil Deads"? Sam Raimi. Because he knows that without "Frankenstein" and "The Wolf Man" and "The Mummy," "Evil Dead" wouldn't exist. They are the progenitors for all horror that came after. Without the Universal Monster movies establishing horror with movie-going audiences so early on in cinema's life, it's quite possible nothing else on this bracket would have ever happened.

There's also a depth to the Universal Monsters that the "Evil Dead" films never come close to, by design. The deadites are trick r' treat monsters, spooks that pop up and make you jump then laugh. The Universal Monsters will make you cry. They are often victims in their own right. Frankenstein never asked to be a walking corpse. The Wolf Man doesn't want his curse. The Creature just wants to swim in his lagoon in peace. The Bride CERTAINLY doesn't want anything to do with that arranged marriage.

There's also the matter of longevity. The relevance of "Evil Dead" in culture has never reached the same broad appeal that the Universal Monsters have. Raise your hands if you have your own official USPS stamp? Not so fast there, Ash. You can lower your stump.

I love Raimi's "Evil Dead" films, but they are fully out-classed by the Universal Monster Godfathers and Godmothers, the tortured, beautiful horror oddities that walked (or lurched, as the case may be) so the deadites could run. (Eric Vespe)

And Now It's Time to Vote

So there you have it. The arguments have been made. The defenses have been mounted. The attacks have concluded. The ball is now in your court, folks. Using the Twitter poll below (which will close 12 hours after publication of this article), vote for which movie franchise you want to see advance. Will it be "Evil Dead" or "The Universal Monsters"? Whoever wins will return for the quarterfinals next week, facing off against the winner of the "Alien" and "Final Destination" showdown.