Sunday, May 2, 2010
Crimewave (1985, Sam Raimi)
Crimewave is one of those films that you'd expect everyone has heard of...or at least somebody. Not only was it directed by Sam Raimi, but it was co-written (with Raimi) by the Coen Brothers. Shocking, I know. I actually read about the film in an old Fangoria and I too was really surprised, even more so when I found out it wasn't even available on DVD in the USA. Even if the movie was a steaming turd, you'd think people would buy it solely based on Sam Raimi or the Coens.
Crimewave begins with Vic (Reed Birney), a janitor for Trend-Odegard Security who is being sent to the electric chair for murder. Proclaiming his innocence, he tells the story of what really happened in a series of flashbacks. A couple of exterminators (Paul L. Smith and Brion James) are hired by Mr. Trend (Edward R. Pressman) to kill his partner for planning to sell the company. The exterminators succeed but end up killing Mr. Trend as well. Vic gets involved accidentally and then becomes the exterminator's main target.
Crimewave is like an old film noir crossed with the Three Stooges. The look, feel and music are trying to emulate the old 30's classics but added are sound effects and performances straight out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Raimi's slapstick influences are present in most of his films but are never more obvious than in Crimewave. You can tell exactly what Raimi was going for and I think his blend of two very different styles was successful. That being said, the film has problems too. It's a little too silly and over the top, to the point that you don't find yourself interested in the story. The performances are really the saving grace, especially Bruce Campbell (who Raimi had written Vic's character for but the producers wanted a more established actor). Overall I wish there were more good things I could say, but the film just wasn't that great. It's probably better left in the shadows than tarnishing Saimi and the Coen Brother's mostly great resumes.