Remembering Sam Raimi’s CRIMEWAVE

Long before Doctor Strange and Spider-Man, Sam Raimi followed-up the success of 1981’s The Evil Dead with Crimewave. Co-written by Raimi along with Joel and Ethan Coen, the 1985 release mixes slapstick, noir and horror to deliver a film which has a tremendous amount of energy.  Not everything works and it’s episodic in nature, but Raimi sure does swing for the fences by delivering set piece after set piece.

Starring Reed Birney, Louise Lasser, Paul L. Smith, Brion James, Sheree J. Wilson and producers Edward R. Pressman and (Raimi favourite) Bruce Campbell, Crimewave follows a pair of exterminators/hitmen (Smith and James) who are hired to kill the owner of a burglar-alarm company. Things don’t go to plan (which is putting it lightly) and Birney’s Vic Ajax ends up on death row following a series of brutal murders.

The set design in Crimewave is excellent and the camera work and editing is impeccable. The film features plenty of Raimi’s kinetic and cartoonish energy and it’s all executed gloriously. 

The film was beset by production problems which covered everything from casting to editing and this means it’s not fondly remembered by its makers – a shame. It may be flawed (and it might not even be his full vision) but you can”t deny that Crimewave feels very much like a Sam Raimi film. It’s a real crime that it also bombed at the box office – grossing a paltry $5,000 in the United States.

Funny, nasty, dark and silly, Crimewave has something for everyone.