Five Michigan State University students—Ash Williams, his girlfriend, Linda; Ash's sister, Cheryl; their friend Scott; and his girlfriend Shelly—are vacationing at an isolated cabin in rural Tennessee. On their first night there, Cheryl hears a faint, demonic voice telling her to "join us" just before her hand becomes possessed and draws a picture of a book with a deformed face on its cover. Shaken and confused, she decides not to mention the incident to the others.
The lone survivor of an onslaught of flesh-possessing spirits holes up in a cabin with a group of strangers while the demons continue their attack.
After being transported to the Middle Ages, Ash Williams is captured by King Arthur's men, who suspect him of being an agent for Duke Henry with whom Arthur is at war. He is enslaved along with the captured Henry, his gun and chainsaw are confiscated, and he is taken to a castle. Ash is thrown in a pit where he kills a Deadite and regains his weapons from Arthur's Wise Man. After demanding that Henry and his men be set free, as he knew it was a Witch-hunt, and killing a Deadite publicly, Ash is celebrated as a hero. He grows attracted to Sheila, the sister of one of Arthur's fallen knights.
Ash has spent the last thirty years avoiding responsibility, maturity, and the terrors of the Evil Dead until a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind and Ash becomes mankind's only hope.