Crimewave [Blu-Ray] Sam Raimi

Crimewave [Blu-Ray] Sam Raimi
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Finally available to the public, Sam Raimi's disastrous collaboration with the Coen Brothers, Crimewave reveals an ambitious young director honing his craft, and getting in a little over his head. This early failure for the demanding director can at least partially be blamed on a studio that didn't understand the intended tone of the project; Raimi was making film noir in the style of a live-action cartoon. Sharing many similarities with The Mask, though it carries a much darker sense of humour, Crimewave was ahead of its time. It also lacked the polish, novel special effects, and rising star power of that later hit — this was the work of a truly independent visionary being forced to toil within the constraints of the studio system for the first time. The massive leap in confidence and sheer ingenuity between The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II makes perfect sense after seeing this precarious stepping-stone. Here, guiding a couple of demented contract killers through a plot full of clichés, rendered down to concentrated farce, is where Raimi turned his playful sadism towards comedy. In typical Coen fashion, a plan involving murder and blackmail goes awry, with comical and gory results. A man on death row chirps his innocence as a framing device for the action — essentially two deranged exterminators (they handle all sizes) hunting down everyone connected to their latest crime scene. Vic Ajax (the polite, unfortunate rube forced to find enough crazy within himself to combat the crazy chasing him) was supposed to have been played by Bruce Campbell, but the studio didn't like him for the part. Instead, Raimi's producing partner and should-have-been star took a side role as a sleazy, womanizing heel and the goofy lead went to fellow relative unknown Reed Birney. Aside from the film, which, even though it's clearly a little rough around the edges is a heck of a lot of fun and more inventively shot than the vast majority of movies, the special features included are worth the price of admission for anyone with a fondness for Hollywood drama. Bruce Campbell shows up to do most of the talking, with an extensive interview, where he outlines the entire gritty history of this troubled project, and a feature commentary track. The horror comedy icon is a great storyteller and pulls no punches — enough time has passed that he wouldn't be burning any bridges, but it's fun it hear an unfiltered perspective on Hollywood B.S. Reed Birney participates with an interview and so does actor/producer Edward Pressman. Both have amusing anecdotes to share, but it's a shame Raimi couldn't be convinced to comment. In any event, the release of Crimewave on Blu-Ray is an occasion for celebration; it's a wild piece of madcap entertainment that deserves a chance to find a following for its distinct flavour. (Shout! Factory)