Saturday, January 28, 2006


Title: Crimewave (1985)
Dir: Sam Raimi
Tagline: Extermination is not just a business. It's a way of life.
Rating: *** out of 5 stars

As you probably know, I kinda sorta like this Sam Raimi fella.

Okay, so I think he's a god among men, but nonetheless, I had heard horrible things about Crimewave. Sam was young, and the studio took most of the film out of his hands. Consequently, Sam Raimi, the Coens Brothers (who co-wrote), Bruce Campbell (who plays a role) and everyone else pretended this movie never even happened. Given this anti-buzz, I pretty much assumed the film was rotten as hell, but I decided to rent it anyhow.

But here's my question: why is this film so hated?! It's actually quite funny. Especially if you find the slapstick humor from EDII or AoD to be funny (or Three Stooges, for that matter). I think Raimi, Campbell, etc. are way too modest about this movie. They considered it their first "real" film (with real actors, a real studio, a real budget), and they considered it a complete failure, but I disagree.

Unfortunately the studio meddled way too much, but they couldn't stop Raimi's humor and style from peeking through. I actually laughed out loud a few times. Raimi wanted Bruce to play the lead role, Vic. I usually trust Raimi and his opinions, but Bruce would've been entirely wrong for the role, and he was PERFECT as the foil, Renaldo "The Heel". I laughed out loud a few times during the movie, especially a scene between "The Heel" (Bruce) and a woman at the bar...

The Heel: "Say, I haven't seen you before. I like that in a woman."
Woman: "You're cute."
The Heel: "Keep talkin', baby. Maybe you'll tell me something I don't already know."

Then Bruce does a kind of cocky laugh/wink, and Raimi threw in the sound of gunshots. You have to see it, it's so cheesy. But it's 100% intentional. It is pure, unadulterated slapsticky humor. I usually don't find that stuff funny, but I did laugh quite a few times. There is a good bit of physical humor too, which made me laugh where the Stooges never could.

I don't believe I am biased because of my love for Sam Raimi or the Coens. I really expected a complete turd of a movie, and more or less watched it out of obligation to my Raimi fanaticism. I was pleasantly surprised by it. I can understand people not liking the movie (stuff this surreal isn't everyone's cup of tea) but I do not understand why everyone (including the filmmakers) have completely disowned it!

I think Raimi & co. did so because it wasnt really their film anymore once the studio took control of it. Raimi, control freak that he is, likes films to be made the way he envisions them, so I guess I can see why he wasn't happy with this one. Still, I think it turned out better than everyone says, and that is not the studio's doing (I can recognize Sam's distinct style anywhere).

Aside from the humor, there is some really interesting cinematography in this movie. It's just a small taste of Raimi's cinematic creativity (but we all already knew that from Evil Dead four years prior) . Sam also continued to pioneer new, low-budget filmmaking techniques during the making of this film.

The performances are pretty good. Aside from Bruce, there's Reed Birney as the lead character, Vic (yeah, I don't know who he is either). He's appropriately campy, but fits the role well. The late Brion James plays a REALLY over-the-top villain but he's fun to watch.

Crimewave is not for everyone, but if you already like Raimi and/or Coen brothers style, you should find the movie at least tolerable, and possibly even love it. Give it a chance.


lamarocket said...

I love this movie - it's hilarious.