"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Crimewave

THE EVIL DEAD was a hit. It took them a while, but they found a distributor, Irvin Shapiro. He’d been a founder of the Cannes Film Festival, and arranged for it to screen out of competition, where Stephen King saw it and loved it. Him raving about it in USA Today brought it outsized attention for such a small movie. It was well reviewed and became a sleeper hit, making 8 times its budget at the domestic box office (and then we all saw it on video).

And you know how these days you can make a low budget horror debut and a studio will hire you to direct SHAZAM! or some shit? That’s a little bit like what Raimi tried to do after THE EVIL DEAD. Not a for-hire thing, but a bigger movie more in the comedic vein of his amateur Super-8 films. According to Bruce Campbell’s book If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, THE EVIL DEAD editor Edna Ruth Paul had told Raimi that her assistant Joel Coen and his brother Ethan wrote great scripts. “Ethan was just a statistical accountant at Macy’s at the time,” Raimi is quoted as saying in the book, “and I thought it’s probably going to be awful, but I’ll read it because I like Joel. And I read it and I thought, ‘This is really a great script. These guys know how to write scripts.’ I needed help, because ours was no good and they came in and helped me with it.”

Later there was an uncredited pass by Sheldon Lettich, who in a few years would become forever associated with Jean-Claude Van Damme by writing BLOODSPORT and then directing LIONHEART. (Lettich would also co-write a too-ambitious EVIL DEAD 2 draft similar to what became ARMY OF DARKNESS.)

Set in Raimi and Campbell’s home town of Detroit, CRIMEWAVE (1985) is a weird and funny movie, teeming with Raimi and Coen personality, from the precisely worded dialogue full of humorously archaic phrasing, to the over-the-top set pieces, to the straight up Three Stooges cartooniness. A favorite example of the latter: during a struggle, a shelf gets knocked down and a series of bowling balls (or cannonballs?) roll onto a villain’s head one after the other – don’t keep those on a shelf, people! That’s dangerous!

But Embassy Pictures fucked with Raimi from the beginning, causing numerous obvious compromises, so he and the Coens have long since disowned it.

First and worst compromise: they wouldn’t let Bruce Campbell be the star. He’s funny as Renaldo, the “heel” and lady’s man who’s the hero’s romantic rival. But the lead was given to Reed Birney (House of Cards, THE HUNT), who comes off like a poor man’s Anthony Edwards circa REVENGE-OF-THE-NERDS. He plays hapless dork Vic Ajax, who openly reads the book How To Talk To Women and then, when he gets the chance to, only talks to them about himself. It’s easy to imagine this cluelessness working with Campbell’s arrogant buffoon shtick, but Birney’s portrayal seems a little too accurate to that type of person to be charming. I kind of want to see him suffer. But he pulls some of it off.

The film opens in Hudsucker State Penitentiary (yep), where convicted murderer Vic’s first lines are “But I’m innocent! Innocent I tell ya!” and “Say, you look like a couple of reasonable fellas…” to the guards escorting him to the electric chair. Then he narrates to them the screwball noir tale of how he got there.

He’s just a dumb sucker working for Trend-Odegard Security Systems when Mr. Trend (Edward R. Pressman, producer of THE CROW) finds out Mr. Odegard (Hamid Dana) is scheming to sell their company to Renaldo, who’s introduced with his feet up on Odegard’s desk, spraying himself some Binaca mid-cigarette, holding designs for turning their building into “Renaldo’s Girlie Revue.” Trend decides to put a hit out on his treacherous partner, which he does by calling Center City Exterminators (“WE KILL ALL SIZES” is their slogan).

A couple of these guys look familiar.

WEIRD COEN-VERSE TRIVIA: In BLOOD SIMPLE, Meurice receives an answering machine message from Helene Trend, voiced by an uncredited Holly Hunter. Here Mr. Trend’s wife is named Helene (Louise Lasser, BLOOD RAGE). She, some of her neighbors, and Vic see too much and become targets of the exterminators too.

Vic is occupied with trying to impress Nancy (Sheree J. Wilson, Walker, Texas Ranger), a random woman he helped up when she fell down in the street and now he’s convinced he’s in love with her. She turns out to be dating Renaldo, but Vic moves in when Renaldo is being a jerk at a fancy restaurant with a live band. For some reason Vic is there wearing a tuxedo. He does a terrible job of trying to prove he’s a nice guy, boring the shit out of Nancy with a self-absorbed monologue where he uses the phrases “the grand design,” “foyer” and “anteroom,” all picked up from an earlier conversation with Mr. Trend (that’s one of my favorite Coen Brothers trademarks – characters using phrases that we know they copied from someone else).

There’s a corny-as-hell joke I love where they’re $36 short for the bill, and suddenly there’s an announcement for a dance contest with a $36 prize. So they dance and then it whip pans to them washing dishes, Vic still smiling and dancing to the big band music.

The exterminators, Faron Crush and Arthur Coddish, are played by a dubbed Paul L. Smith (also in THE PROTECTOR and RED SONJA that year) and weaselly, high-pitched Brion James (after BLADE RUNNER, before STEEL DAWN). They drive a truck with a giant rat sculpture on the roof and use a handheld electrocution machine with a dial to switch from ‘RATS’ to ‘MEN.’ The kind of guys who try to dump a body in a Salvation Army donation bin. To their eyewitness, Helene, one says, “Lady, you ain’t seen nothin.”

And then… “YET!”

They’re cartoons, but they’re so psychotic, and the suspense sequences are so well planned and directed, that I think they’re pretty scary. I’ve read that although BLOOD SIMPLE first played a year before this did, it was written second. The scene where Helene stabs a fork under her door while watching the other side on a security feed seems like a cousin of Frances McDormand and M. Emmet Walsh’s blind fight through a window. Also BLOOD SIMPLEesque: Nancy talking to Arthur around a corner, thinking he’s Vic, and then Vic trying to talk to her through the door not realizing he’s talking to Arthur.

But things go more RAISING ARIZONA in the incredible sequence where Faron pulls Helene and the entire living room toward him by tugging on the carpet.

And there’s an even better one! The security company has a display called “The Parade of Protection, The safest hallway in the world!,” a multi-colored series of doors and walls demonstrating all the types of locks and alarms available. She runs through, shutting each door behind her, and he chases after her, ramming straight through the doors like Juggernaut, until the walls start falling like dominoes.

Note that in this shot it’s a stuntman wearing a Paul L. Smith mask. I hope that’s in a museum somewhere.

So often comedies are just about the jokes, and can’t be bothered with style. A sequence this elaborate and visually appealing (let alone based on such a perfectly absurd premise) is a rare and beautiful thing. And even when CRIMEWAVE doesn’t reach this far, its whole world is potently cinematic. It’s like a Hitchcock movie with its witnessing of crimes from windows, old timey hats for both men and women, rooms dimly lit by hanging lights, and lovingly designed compositions. With cinematographer Robert Primes (STUNT ROCK, THE HARD WAY, BAADASSSSS!), Raimi can’t stop coming up with amazing angles. Check out this one where Helene looks out the window as the exterminators arrive accompanied by a lightning flash.

So much of it has to show things going on inside and outside a window, or across the street – setups you don’t have to bother with when you just have the cabin and the woods to deal with. Raimi seems eager to play with the tools afforded to him by a real studio budget ($2.5 million). There’s a shot that pans across a city block as extras run by, a guy comes out of a door and gets hit by a falling awning, pigeons fly by and then toward the camera, animated lightning hits a fire hydrant and a guy gets hit by a car and flips over the hood.

There is a little bit that did remind me of Raimi’s first movie – sort of an EVIL DEAD cam zooming down the street as a storm blows papers around. Speaking of papers and THE EVIL DEAD, check out this newspaper article I spotted in freeze frame! Never realized this took place in the same universe. One weird thing is that the “Time-space disturbance” part sounds like part II. I’ve been confused on the timeline of when they wrote that, and this implies they were at least thinking about their medieval sequel idea while making CRIMEWAVE, even though some claim they didn’t plan to do a sequel until this was a flop.

CRIMEWAVE is so beautiful in so many ways, I wish the hero wasn’t such a schmuck. He comes across like that familiar ‘80s comedy archetype of the completely unlikable doofus who we’re supposed to feel for because he claims to be a nice guy and an old fashioned romantic. He says, “Nancy, today, when I saw you fall, all I wanted to do is take care of you,” like that’s some kind of deep connection. There is no connection – he says “Some night, huh?” after the date, unaware that she was transparently miserable the entire time. When she tells him as much he says, “You’re not being rational.” By the end of the movie she, completely unearned, starts to love him. If he was a more outrageous character like Chris Elliot in CABIN BOY (or like Campbell might’ve played it) it might’ve felt like a funny parody, but as is it’s a little awkward.

On the other hand, it gets a laugh out of me when a random dude allows Vic to commandeer his vehicle on account of The Power of Love.

“What’s the trouble, son?” he says.

“Some maniacs are after my girl, and I wonder if you’d let me take your—“

The man holds up his hand to silence him. “Ya love her, son?”

“Yes sir, I reckon I do.”

Stunt coordinator Rick Barker did second unit on NINJA III: THE DOMINATION. I wonder if that’s the golf course unit? The climax of CRIMEWAVE is a proto-FAST AND FURIOUS freeway chase combining crazy car stunts with lots of not-so-convincing rear projection to have the characters jumping from vehicle to vehicle, punching through windshields, hanging from bumpers, fighting on roofs and hoods, dangling over the side of a bridge. But instead of Vin Diesel we have a dork who almost loses by putting his bat down when the villain promises to be good. “All right, just this once,” he says. “Put ‘er there, pal!”

It was written under the title RELENTLESS, but their beloved producer Irvin Shapiro convinced them to change it to THE XYZ MURDERS. And one time I was going through old newspapers and learned that it played the Seattle International Film Festival under the title BROKEN HEARTS AND NOSES. Campbell’s book mentions it playing in Seattle, saying it was the only time it ever went over well with a crowd, because the guy who introduced it warned that it was “silly.”

Raimi and the Coens don’t talk about the movie much. In 2014 Raimi told the Nerdist podcast:

“We made a terrible movie that was butchered by the studios called Crimewave. They wouldn’t let me star Bruce Campbell a couple weeks before it started to shoot. They changed the music and they re-edited the whole thing. It was really unpleasant … right after we were finished shooting, in the midst of editing it, they took the picture away from me. They wouldn’t let me edit the picture. They hired their own editor. It’s too unpleasant to talk about.”

In The Evil Dead Companion he says, “I’m not even saying the picture I gave them was good, but it had four times as many great moments. Now there’s maybe one great moment and two good moments, but I had five great moments. The movie was never really good, but it would have been a hell of a lot better if Embassy had left it alone.”

I don’t know. I think I could count more great moments than that.

In the same book producer Rob Tapert theorizes “It doesn’t know exactly what it wants to be. It wants to be entertainment, but is it an action movie? Is it a romantic comedy? It doesn’t really fit into any genre, so you don’t know how to respond.”

I hate when people say stuff like that. It wants to be a broad comedy version of a noir with some horrific parts and some action sequences. Or if not it ended up as one. Sometimes the movies that don’t adhere to the expectations of the genre are the most interesting ones. Some of those even have your name in the credits, Tapert!

Campbell in his book says that “CRIMEWAVE was a lesson about abject failure – no matter how you slice it, the film was a dog,” but he doesn’t find it too unpleasant to talk about, so he recorded a very informative and entertaining commentary track that’s on the Shout Factory Blu-Ray and DVD. He was a very hands-on producer so he has plenty to say about everything beyond just playing Renaldo, and he has a very good attitude about the casting: he figures if the studio had let him star it still would have failed and might have taken his acting career down with it.

Equally important: their need for a comeback and creative control after CRIMEWAVE helped push them into Dino De Laurentiis’ office wanting to do EVIL DEAD 2, which ultimately made the world a better place. Thank you for your service, CRIMEWAVE.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2022 at 7:07 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

28 Responses to “Crimewave”

  1. The most Raimi Raimi that ever Raimied. I remember seeing it on VHS in the late 90s and being flabbergasted that such phenomenal work had been so completely ignored. Shame about the total drip of a lead, but the movie really lives in its set-pieces, most of which don’t involve that turd, and in any case I wouldn’t give up Renaldo the Heel (the introduction of what would become Campbell’s go-to cocky jerk persona from here on out) for the world.

    Honestly, this is top-five Raimi for me, and there isn’t a Raimi I don’t like (although I can’t say I remember the baseball movie much). I’ll take it over any of the SPIDER-MANs. Shit, most days I’ll take it over DARKMAN.

    Yeah, I said it.

  2. This movie blows me away every time I see it. Even today it still stands out with a million creative ideas, both visually and plot-, sometimes even actingwise. (You cast Brion James and let him speak like Mickey Mouse! Perfect!) And if you don’t know anything about the horrorstories surrounding its production, you wonder why both Raimi and the Coens disown it, since it fits so perfectly into their respective filmographies.

    But am I the only one who has no problem with its star? For me he has this perfect screwball weakling quality, that makes it even more awesome when he suddenly becomes an unlikely hero at the end. I’m not sure if Bruce Campbell, even early 80s Campbell, would’ve been able to fit that well into that part.

  3. I’m sort of more with the creators on this one. I watched it twice on home video in the late 80s/early 90s and remember loving it the first time but then realizing the second time that the film’s got a few GREAT moments and not a lot connecting them.

    Things I fondly remember to this day include:

    1) Brion James in one of his most over-the-top roles
    2) The chase through the doorways sequence
    3) The kid in the elevator

  4. Random fun fact: The German title of this is THE KILLER ACADEMY and an obvious try to make it somehow sound like it’s related to POLICE ACADEMY. For a while those ACADEMY titles were like DJANGO or FRANKENSTEIN. Doesn’t matter if the movie is about them, let’s put it in the German title.

  5. Would definitely watch FRANKENSTEIN ACADEMY. Or DJANGO ACADEMY for that matter.

  6. Initially, I thought the movie had a few good/funny things and generally a lot of energy and imagination, but it never really comes together.

    Then I heard that Campbell was originally supposed to star, but was re-cast at the last moment. So, I watched it again with that in mind, and it was like suddenly someone twisted the ring and the whole thing snapped into focus. It makes a terrific object lesson on how fucking with one variable can throw something completely out of whack. And while I’m aware that ultimately more than the lead casting was fucked with, but having Campbell in that role delivering those lines would have fixed the entire tone. And I believe that maybe not everything else — but a lot more — would have fallen into place.

  7. When you revealed you would be reviewing all the films of Sam Raimi, this is the one I was most excited for. I remember reading If Chins Could Kill years ago and becoming somewhat intrigued by Crimewave, but I didn’t get around to watching it until like three years ago. It may have been lowered expectations, but I just had a blast with it. All the complaints that people have are basically true: it’s some great set pieces without much connecting them and the lead is a complete drip. I’ll add that Brion James’s voice does grate after a while.

    But the highs are so great that it’s easy to look beyond that. And I love movies that aren’t sci-fi or fantasy but still exist in some sort of world that’s not quite ours either. It helps that so much of this is made on soundstage, which you don’t see as much anymore (or maybe they make them look so good that you can’t tell). This is just a big cartoon, and we’re supposed to accept it. It’s a movie. It doesn’t have to be grounded in reality.

  8. I’ve been dying to see this for years– maybe since reading If Chins Could Kill– and I still haven’t gotten around to it. It was impossible to find for so long. I see it’s now free on Tubi, so maybe I’ll finally check this one off the list.

  9. There are roughly six million little things I love about this movie, so I’ll try to stick with the macro. In the ’90s, when I was deep into my Bruce Campbell mania, I was completely obsessed with this movie. I had two used VHS copies, and if I had found two more I would’ve bought them too. I suppose I identified with Vic, but I was enthralled by the controlled artificiality of the world that Raimi had created. The lighting, the blocking, the costumes. The way Vic’s tie flies up into the air when he sees Nancy nearly run down in the street by our villains. From the moment Renaldo blows smoke into an animated dancing girl, you know you’re in a heightened reality. Almost like…a comic book.

    When I heard that Raimi was going to direct SPIDER-MAN, and that he’d been a fan of the character since childhood (that’s what they all say, but in this case I totally believe him), something clicked in my head. CRIMEWAVE is a Spider-Man origin story! Look, I know you can boil any story down far enough to resemble any other story, but c’mon. You’ve got the idealistic young nerd, pining for this girl he can’t make any headway with. And then they intersect with our nefarious villains: one seemingly super-strong and invulnerable brute with a penchant for smashing thru walls and doors (Juggernaut was a good call, Vern, but he’s totally the Rhino to me); another whose entire schtick is electrocuting people-do I even need to explain that one?

    So our young hero learns to man up, stop the bad guys and save the girl. Which entails a lot of jumping and hanging off things. And also delivering a rousing hero’s monologue whilst removing TWO aprons-one of my favorite little touches.

    Anyway, that’s my interpretation. And I’m with CJ-I don’t think this woulda worked with Bruce in the lead. He’s too hunky and I honestly don’t think he had the chops to go against type at this point. Besides, I need him right where he is in this movie.

  10. I have fond memories of my bootleg VHS of Crimewave, taped from a copy I rented from Portland’s “Movie Madness” (which thankfully is still a place that exists!)

  11. Rob Tapert has been involved in lots of good stuff, but doesn’t seem like he has the greatest creative instincts. Sean Clements — a writer and podcaster, who wrote on the first season of Ash vs the Evil Dead — has told a few funny stories about the bizarre and out of touch notes the writers would get from him.

  12. Only ever saw this once, after Evil Dead II when I needed more Raimi. This was a pre Darkman world! I had still been warned it wasn’t one of their good ones and I agreed at the time.

    I should revisit. Brilliant set pieces not even strung together sounds like exactly my jam now.

  13. And I’m with CJ-I don’t think this woulda worked with Bruce in the lead. He’s too hunky and I honestly don’t think he had the chops to go against type at this point

    You have to remember Campbell didn’t have a “type” at this point. He had only did Evil Dead. The ‘blowhard lothario idiot’ thing that became his “type” came later.

  14. My Raimi was all messed up in the 80s. I saw EVIL DEAD 2 first, then this one and a year or so later the first EVIL DEAD. But I liked CRIMEWAVE a lot. And from then on I sort of knew that this director wasn’t going to stay put in the world of horror.

    CJ and Majestyk, here in Norway we had something similar to the German ACADEMY. Someone got the bright idea of giving AIRPLANE! the Norwegian title HJELP, VI FLYR! (HELP, WE’RE FLYING!) And from then on it was HELP this and HELP that. YOUNG DOCTORS IN LOVE became HELP, WE’RE OPERATING and NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION became HELP, WE MUST GO IN HOLIDAY! Apparently the first HELP title came as early as 1939, but in the 80s they were everywhere.

  15. Okay, I did it! I watched it! And… it was a bit underwhelming, but there’s some bright spots in there. It’s shambolic, but mostly in a good way. All the chase scenes are great, and Raimi really went for it with the higher budget. Bruce Campbell, naturally, intuitively understands what Raimi’s going for and handled the tone the best, but the lady from Walker Texas Ranger did a pretty good job, too. I’m used to Reed Birney playing pretentious or harried old yuppies, so this was a new look. After Vic lets out an “aye” in one scene I half-expected him to pop a can of spinach and pummel the two maniacs into accordions– this is me not realizing Paul L. Smith played Bluto in Altman’s Popeye!

    A number of plot and thematic elements used here will return in the Raimi-produced, Josh-Becker-directed movie Lunatics: A Love Story. That one stars Ted Raimi as an agoraphobic nebbish who meet-cutes a woman (Deborah Foreman) by accident. She starts the movie dating a heel played by Bruce Campbell. It culminates Ted wrapping himself in tinfoil armor to go save his girl, which involves fighting thugs with a baseball bat and facing a giant spider (instead of a giant mouse). I forget what happens to Bruce’s character but I think it’s in the same vein as Crimewave. Despite Raimi not directing it and the Coens not being involved, Lunatics feels like something of a do-over, and coheres a little better.

    Raimi’s Three Stooges and Tex Avery sensibilities would work better in Evil Dead 2, where the horror elements act as a better balance for the sillier bits. And the Coens would refine their style for this cartoonier tone in Raising Arizona.

  16. HELP, DJANGO GOES TO FRANKENSTEIN ACADEMY!

    Jojo, while I won’t rule out that Campbell could’ve it pulled off, especially since nobody but the Raimi gang knows what they originally had in mind, but the more nerdy looking and naive playing actor we got here, nails both the screwball comedy looks and acting, so I’m totally okay with him.

    BTW, is it weird that I didn’t notice Paul L. Smith until my rewatch last year? I was looking him up on IMDB and seemed to be a quite prolific actor who played bigger parts in movies that I had actually seen, but outside of POPEYE and this, I didn’t remember him at all. Don’t know what was up with that.

  17. So you haven’t seen the Bud Spencer movie rip offs he did in the 70s?!

  18. No, I didn’t even hear about them until recently.

  19. What about the timeless classic SONNY BOY, in which David Carradine plays his wife?

    Sonny Boy

    Sonny Boy (Michael Griffin) is a young man who lives in a metal shed, raised by a small town crime lord named Slue (Paul L. Smith, Bluto from POPEYE) and his lady Pearl (David Carradine - I think he's playing a transvestite but maybe it's gender-blind casting). Pearl has been protective of Sonny Boy ever since he was a baby. But obviously not protective enough, since they cut his tongue out (as a birthday present, they say), torture him with fire to give him tough skin, and train him to bite the necks of their enemies. You know how they

  20. I know the review, but not the movie.

  21. Pegsman, is that why there was that Peter Stormare movie whose original title is Help, We’re In the Film Industry?

  22. Yeah, I read somewhere that it’s a homage to those old film titles. I don’t know if anyone has counted, but I found at least 20 Help titles from the 80s alone.

  23. Jojo, please don’t condescend to me about Bruce Campbell. I assure you, it’s entirely unnecessary.

  24. Did you miss the part where I said I was obsessed with Bruce Campbell, and this movie in particular? So don’t ‘actually’ me. This is my wheelhouse. And it will continue to be until the Raimi retrospective is over. This is my jam.

  25. The one I saw it 20 plus years ago, I remember liking it. Not exceptional for Raimi standards, sorry it was such a bad experience for Sambo.

  26. I recently watched this on Tubi and it was every bit as entertaining as I remember when I saw it on cable back in the 1990s or so. I can’t imagine Raimi or the Coens wanting to distance themselves from this for any reason, other than their personal bad experience and the widespread perception of it being a flop.

    “I wish the hero wasn’t such a schmuck. He comes across like that familiar ‘80s comedy archetype of the completely unlikable doofus who we’re supposed to feel for because he claims to be a nice guy … If he was a more outrageous character like Chris Elliot in CABIN BOY (or like Campbell might’ve played it) it might’ve felt like a funny parody, but as is it’s a little awkward.”

    I gotta respectfully disagree. I appreciate that this websight was founded on movies that are all about the hero and what he stands for, but I don’t think CRIMEWAVE fits that mold at all. Every character is a stock comedy stereotype, including the dorky naive hick protagonist. I don’t think this movie is going for empathy, or anything other than outrageous gags. That’s clear in the closing gag where the happily-ever-after moment is undercut by Vic going “She likes me, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh, heh-heh” to the heroine’s visible annoyance. (Also the goofy post-credits gag seems to be counting on the viewer not remembering that Helene doesn’t yet know her husband is dead.)

    Reed Birney gives a very over-the-top comedy performance, and only in this film’s heightened universe of Bruce Campbell and Paul Smith could he seem remotely naturalistic. It’s actually a surprisingly Campbell-like performance and I think we can credit Raimi for that. And personally I think the square-jawed Campbell was better cast as Renaldo than as a meek underdog. I think it all worked out for the best – we just gotta figure out how to convince Raimi of that.

    Other thoughts:

    I spotted Ted Raimi as a waiter. I did not spot Frances McDormand, who according to the end credits was one of the nuns. That “wraparound story which turns out to have its own outrageous drama” gag presages the one in ARMY OF DARKNESS.

    The newspaper at the end also has some Easter eggs. In one paragraph it says this was a story so incredible that the reporter can’t believe Embassy paid for it. In another paragraph, the governor says that he vows never to work with Susan Tarr or Embassy again. I’m assuming that’s Raimi’s post-production dig at Embassy for causing him grief (though I don’t get the Susan Tarr reference – I had to Google to learn that there’s a children’s author by that name).

    There’s something about 1980s comedy and how bluntly devoted it is to gags and just getting the laugh. Any other concerns such as social commentary are very secondary – at most there might be a corny you-can-do-it message about inspiration, but that’s it.

    For better or worse, something changed in the 1990s – maybe just the fact that home video and cable had been around long enough by then – so that media savvy and genre knowledge/subversion and self-awareness became a bigger deal. That’s maybe the irony of CRIMEWAVE – it could only have been made in the 1980s, yet it could only have been appreciated in the 1990s or later.

    Thank you for coming to my Ted (Raimi) talk.

  27. Good point about the wraparound being like ARMY OF DARKNESS. And both were devised when they were forced to rework the story for the studio!

  28. I rewatched this film today for the first time since the late 80’s. The good thing was that I managed to watch it with my projector, which helps in appreciating Raimi’s shots and the crazy pace of it. The shot of the crazy guy thrown through the window then seen dropping in a wide stunt and then you realise its a reflection as the guy drops into the shot from the side is especially wonderful.

    It feels a lot like 1941, in that its a knockback to older movies but wants to mess with the genre and our expectations, so its a romantic comedy turning into a noir then nightmare comedy (in an After Hours sort of way), adding craziness always.

    Funny thing is how Raimi enjoys sending up his leading man. Its so consistent from the low budget indies to the blockbusters. No leading man in a mega-budget film gets more abused hilariously than Tobey Maguire. The third film that many hate is especially openly dark and amusing on that.

    Overall this is one of those wonderfully flawed films that only a talented and eccentric director would make. Most directors would wonder who’d want to see that. I don’t think Raimi was thinking of that at all.

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