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Sam Raimi's Future is Bright

By Jarrod Sarafin     April 22, 2007

Honestly, this week’s edition was going to be about somebody other then that title you see above. Last week, when talking about famous Italian director Dario Argento, the same very clear and a concise movie kept playing through my head, a film also by an Italian born cinematic icon. It turned into a trilogy which launched one of the most legendary actor/directors of our day. I’m speaking about Sergie Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy…A Fistful of Dollars, A Few Dollars More, and of course the climatic The Good The Bad & The Ugly. 

The “spaghetti western” trilogy has inspired future modern day directors such as Rodriguez, Tarantino, and many more but it was also responsible for something much more important. 

It put Clint Eastwood on the map. If there’s any man that fits into the “legends of cinema” category, which would be him. 

Something stopped me from writing about him. Truthfully, where to even begin? This man could have a book written after him and perhaps, I’ll get right onto writing a shortened version just for you readers here at Mania but it’s still a very large project. Perhaps, split it off into series of his acting vs. his directing…onward into his own influence and those whom are influenced from him.  

No, it’s something which should be put on the back burner for now. 

Instead, I’m going to be writing about a man who is a hot topic of movie news as a whole at this moment. Someone who began his roots back in the horror genre and is now rumored (among other things) to be going back into the horror genre very soon. This man is rumored in movie news to being selected in some high profile projects and there’s a reason for this. He’s basically single-handedly taught Hollywood that there is a “right way to adapt Comic book heroes”.  

I’m speaking of the Spiderman directing genius, Sam Raimi. 

You would be hard pressed to go anywhere without Spider-man being plastered in your face one way or another. From walking into your local Wal-Mart and seeing the newly molded toys ready to please children everywhere to the everyday news that Spider-man will be premiering in just about every major nation state of the world at the same time. Variety seems to have a daily news headline about Spiderman 3 with a new release event properly staged and planned by the masterminds over at Sony/Columbia Pictures. The anticipation for this movie is tantamount to a surfer riding the lip of a typhoon swelling wave and we are now approaching the apex of its final crest as it touches the sandy beach beyond. It’s almost home, this project of massive marketability and planning.  

As such, let’s talk about the man responsible for the film being as anticipated and loved as it is. The man whom has as large a following of fans as any number of directors working the scene in recent times. There’s a reason he’s as loved as he is. He’s touched films which generally appealed to audiences to the point where some of his characters live in infamy for the quotetastic lines they’ve induced in our fan boy hearts.  

Sam Raimi and John Carpenter (also featured in a previous Star Spotlight column) both have seen fit to create an iconic fictional character with such a tough of imaginative grace that the fans whom love these character can spurt out that character’s quotes at the drop of a hat.  

Samuel Marshall Raimi was born on October 23, 1959 to a conservative Jewish family in Michigan with Raimi the 4th of 5 children from his dad Leonard and mom Celia. His name was originally Reingewertz but it was shortened to Raimi for a more modern American name. At an early age, Raimi fell in love with films and that love was transformed to something more one day when his father brought home a video camera. They used to make family films on it but Raimi with childhood friend Bruce Campbell decided to go beyond just the occasional family film. 

They ( Raimi and Campbell) created a 30 minute horror film titled Within the Woods while attending college together. 

You can see where this is going? 

Just by screening the shortened homemade horror Within the Woods at college and various tours, they raised $350 k from it and it was this money which helped them invest their passion towards a longer version named Evil Dead (1981).  

It was Evil Dead which launched Raimi’s movie career and made Bruce Campbell the horror icon that he is today. A lot of people seem to love the Evil Dead trilogy as a whole but they’ve seen Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness the most out of the series. Evil Dead II was a reimagining of the first one, albeit with more comedic elements and less horror. It still resonates strong with the horror community to this day though.  

“The Book of the Dead” recording playing at the beginning of the film is one of the most iconic moments of modern day horror.  

In between Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, Raimi was trying to get another idea of his jumpstarted but too much studio interference ended up causing the project to fail. I’m speaking of Raimi’s Crimewave (1985), a film intended to be a live action comic book by Raimi. The studio turned it into a trainwreck and Raimi decided to go back to horror and reimagine Evil Dead with the more comedic elements instead, i.e. Evil Dead II. 

In between Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, Raimi wanted to adapt another famous comic book franchise titled “The Shadow” for the big screen but again, there was studio issues here. He was unable to secure the rights to it and instead, created another cult classic for a lot of movie fans, Darkman. It was this films relative success which contributed to getting Evil Dead III: Army of Darkness created. The irony here is that while Evil Dead III has as large a following as Spiderman, it wasn’t as successful in box office as it could have been. 

In fact, this is another correlation between Raimi and Carpenter. Carpenter’s films with iconic characters were box office duds for the most part but have very massive followings inside the scene and outside in the Americana pop culture. It goes into the old adage that box office doesn’t mean much to the average movie goer even if it’s vitally important to the studio writing out the paychecks. A film may fail but it doesn’t stop it from being a success or loved by the people. The circle of success doesn’t always follow itself, sometimes it follows a line of reasoning that baffles studio execs to this day.  

With Army of Darkness not performing up to speed, Raimi faded back into the background for a while, instead opting to produce TV shows which were considered b-material all the way but like I say above, also had large followings. The syndication, dvd sells, and television audiences around the world immediately took  to the cheesy popcorn goodness of his “Hercules”, “Xena Warrior Princess”, “M.A.N.T.I.S” , “Cleopatra 2525” series. Sure, this was around the same time that Baywatch was ruling the airwaves in European countries and silicone breasted babes were topping the charts of pop culture year round here in America. Those same audiences ate up Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess. 

If anything can be said about Raimi, he knows how to appeal to the genre niche audience with that fan boy driven imagination of his. He appeals to those of us who just want to have some fun even if it’s downright silly and offball related. This is the reason why he appeals to a lot of genre fans and why his following of Raimi-ites continues to grow. 

In the mid 90s, he stuck to the tv scene and producing other films but he didn’t direct anything himself throughout this period other than The Quick and the Dead. It wasn’t until 98 until he released something with the mainstream audiences. This was the time where he directed and released the Bill Paxton & Billy Bob Thorton film A Simple Plan. This film did reach out to a lot of mainstream audiences outside of his own following and he ended up appealing to this wider reach with his 99 release For Love of the Game. After filming Costner’s last baseball related film, he would go onto make The Gift for a 2000 release.  

When seeing the recent news about Sony, Dunst, Maguire and Raimi all going back and forth over “taking a break” before doing Spiderman 4, here’s a little understanding of these types of arguments.  

From the year 00-this moment, the only films Raimi has had a chance to create is Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004) & Spider-Man 3 (2007). Raimi has told Superhero Hype this past week that “Yes, I’ll do a Spider-Man 4” as well though his mind is officially “blank” at the moment. 

Good reason for that, too. These films probably take a lot out of him. He’s a comic fan at heart first and foremost and he’s not the type to rush out a film even with the studio constantly breathing down his back hairs. He said he would take 3 years between Spidey 2 and Spidey 3 and that’s exactly what he did. Imdb already has Spider-Man 4 listed as coming out 2009 but as always, I’m thinking they’re jumping the gun on that one. Nothing is set in stone and even if Sony throws Fort Knox’s gold reserve at Raimi, he will need some kind of break here. Perhaps, a 2010 release is more manageable if the parties agree to the terms. Saying “Yes, I’ll do another Spiderman film” and doing another one immediately are two different types of answers.  

Raimi has also been offered the director’s chair to New Line’s The Hobbit. That’s a damn serious offer to digest for a director who has the love for the genre as he does. It’s not one to be shrugged off and while a lot of Peter Jackson fans and fan crazy websites may be upset about the decision, should Raimi choose to take it, I’m sure Peter Jackson himself would give Raimi his blessing in much the same fashion as John Carpenter gave Rob Zombie his own. Name any director which wouldn’t jump at the opportunity of making The Hobbit even with the utterly strange childish antics from New Line’s chairman Shaye. No, a director may go on record saying how wrong Jackson has been treated here but that won’t stop the same director from personally salivating over the opportunity to bring this book to the big screen under the care of their lens.  

There’s also a rumor that Raimi is actually “planning” a return to the horror genre. Could this be another trip for our horror hero Ash after his iconic Spidey franchise? All that’s being said is he’s planning a return to horror. Not what the project is about. It could be a new original concept that’s been floating in that brain of his or it could be a glorious return of his Ash character. Who really knows? 

All that can be said is Raimi has some very tough decisions to go along with a much needed vacation. While he’s the one whom has to choose, it seems like whichever decision he makes could & will upset fans of any of the perspective franchises. Anger comic book lovers with not going immediately back to Spider-Man 4? Anger Peter Jackson fans with going onward to direct The Hobbit? Possibly alienate his core audience with deciding to shelve the rumored return to horror? What seems ironic here is Raimi is on top of his game in Hollywood and I respect the hell out of him for his credits (both cheesy and otherwise)…He has some great choices that any other director would kill to have inside the industry scene, yet, it seems as if everyone whom is not named “Samuel Marshall Raimi” wants to decide his future for him.  

Raimi’s Directing Credits: 

It’s Murder! (1977)

Within the Woods (1978)

Clockwork (1978)

The Evil Dead (1981)

Crimewave (1985)

The Evil Dead II (1987)

Darkman (1990)

Army of Darkness (1992)

The Quick and the Dead (1995)

A Simple Plan (1998)

For Love of the Game (1999)

The Gift (2000)

Spider-Man (2002)

Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Spider-Man 3 (May 4, 2007) 

There’s also discussion on remaking “The Evil Dead” set for a 2008 release. Raimi will be penning the screenplay for it since he’s its original creator and should have say over the project. He’s only accredited as “writer” for the upcoming planned remake, not director or producer.  

For now, he’s in discussions to direct a mini series “Wizard’s First Rule” for television in 2008 and Spider-Man 4 in 2009 along with of course New Line’s The Hobbit.  

Spider-Man 3 hits theaters everywhere on May 4, 2007.  

Whatever the case for Sam Raimi, even with the tough decisions, his future is most definitely bright! 

This will do it for this week’s edition of Star Spotlight. Talk to you later, fellow Maniacs.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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almostunbiased 4/22/2007 6:52:28 AM
I like Raimi, but honestly I haven't seen that much of his work. Army of Darkness is a classic campy cornball laugh, plus it's just kick ace, but other than that and The Quick and the Dead, spidey is really all I know from Raimi. And I thought The Quick and the Dead was possibly the worst western I have ever seen in my life. The acting was fine, but the story just absolutely sucked compared to most westerns I've seen. Still semi-fun I guess. Though I still get a luagh thinking about the hole through his body at the end. And I'm sure that wasn't meant to be funny, but that was so lame I had to laugh. Still, the man has talent and I'm looking forward to future projects. I'd like to see him do the Hobbit if Jackson can't, but I'd much rather stick with Jackson.
Wiggley 4/22/2007 9:10:39 AM
Evil dead really got the imagination going for me as a kid. Absolutely LOVED Army of Darkness. though I seem to be in the minority with the people I hang out with now :( they just don't get it. Did NOT like quick and the dead. Darkman was jut medeocre. I can't beleive there is like what 3 of them now? A simple plan was decent rental marterial but nothing special. For the love of the game was a great movie. That coming from a guy that doesn't like Costner. I thought the Gift was one of the biggest surprises that year. I loved it. (and not just because of Katies muffins)LOL. I really think with other special effect flix catching up, we are starting to forget how "amazing" (pun intended) Spiderman was when it was released. Not since Superman II and Empire strikes back has a sequel done so well with Spidey II. I won't even talk about what he should do next until after I've seen III. sometimes things can get stale, and the franchise may need a break so as not to run itself into the ground. Well for what ever my opinions are worth theres my take on his stuff. P.S. I almost forgot, I wanted to hate those Xeno type shows out of principle but found them to be a guilty pleasure throught there run. Ugh, yes even Cleopatra 2525. What the hell was I thinking? lOl Oh yeah "mmmmm hot chicks in skimpy outfits kicking butt. :) If you liked those campy treasures, you should rent Jack of all Trades. This stared bruce Campbell (yeah) with his typical style that many of us have come to love, as well as casting comic genius of Verne Troyer (mini me) as Napoleon. Still cracks me up the first time they present him as the 19 century conqueror LOL.
joeybaloney 4/22/2007 12:54:33 PM
Verne Tryer as Napoleon?! That's hilarious.
ashscousin 4/22/2007 4:35:12 PM
RE # 2 Wow was I drunk last night, I could of sworn I'd left words but apparently not. Sam Raimi has been one of my favorite directors since I first saw "Evil Dead 2" when I was a kid. Its been a lot of fun watching him go from obscure cult icon to being one of the most successful and powerful directors working right now. I've seen every one of this great mans films, including some of his old home made shorts and he's never disappointed. Well okay, I've seen all his film except for one, never saw "For love of the game", not a fan of sports movies or Kevin Costner so I gave that one a miss. I could go on and on about why Sam Raimi is one of the best directors working right now but at the end of the day for me personally it comes down to three simple things. He created Ash, he made the best horror trilogy of all time and the two best comic book movies of all time. And he gave us Katie Holmes topless, can't forget to mention that too. As for his TV shows I never watched any of the ones that have been mentioned but I was a huge fan of "American Gothic" during it's short run. That show was amazing and in my book goes down as one of those shows that seem too good for TV and just can't find an audiance and sadly get canceled while lesser shows thrive. Another great article Jarrod but I've one small bone to pick with you. "Evil Dead 2" is not a reimagining of "The Evil Dead", it's a strait up sequel. Now this mistake isn't that uncommon but it is indeed a mistake. After the first 7 minutes and 8 seconds of ED2 it picks up at the exact second ED1 finished. The first 7 minutes are just a recap to bring viewers up to speed. Due to the fact Raimi didn't own the rights to ED1 at the time he couldn't use footage from that film so he had to completely re shoot scenes from it for the recap. It's confusing I know 'cause several characters from the first film are not in the recap but this is a decision Raimi made due to money and time restraints and the fact those character were not important to the further development of the story. I'm not trying to be a dick or anything it's just that thats a very touchy issue for hard core ED fans, most of the fans I've encountered online line would rip you a new one for calling ED2 a remake, and then they'd write pages and pages about why it's a sequel and they'd be cutting and pasting quotes from Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and Robert Tapert stating its a sequel. That aside, great article and I hope you do write a future article on Sergio Leone, that man was truly one of the best there ever was.
laforcer69@yahoo.com_home 4/22/2007 4:57:29 PM
Did we realy need a story telling us the Sam Raimi's future is bright...It is obvious at this point that he is a damn good director and for those that don't know that have been living in a whole in the middle of the desert for the past 4 or so years...lol
almostunbiased 4/22/2007 6:32:17 PM
Just so you know, Napoleon wasn't short. He was actually above average height, but he surrounded himself with his elite guard who were all 6' or higher so he seemed short. Just some useless trivia. And thanks for the heads up on The Gift. Oh and mlaforcer. No they didn't need to, but it gives us something to type about.
bernini 4/22/2007 8:57:41 PM
Nice article on Mr. Raimi. He's cemented himself as a great director. Kudos, as well, to the brilliant editors that make up the Mania staff. Or is that just the automated system? We have "Spiderman," "Spider-man" and "Spider-Man" in this article. For the brightly burning intellects there at Mania, it's "Spider-Man." Morons.
DarkJedi_home 4/22/2007 10:23:36 PM
I find it interesting that you compliment my article, bernini, then call me a moron a few lines down. I'm well aware that the title for the movie is Spider-Man. I use the correct literary translation for it quite often towards the end of the feature on it. That doesn't mean I need to use it everytime I choose to mention the character as if it's taboo to say or describe it in any other fashion. I guess I'm a double moron for calling Sergei Leone's "The Good The Bad & The Ugly" instead of its proper name "Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il (1966)"? Or the fact that I used the word "Spidey", another slang interpretation of the Spider-Man character? At any rate, thanks for the compliment before the insult. Jarrod Sarafin
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