Sam Raimi - Director

Nationality: American. Born: 23 October 1959, Franklin, Michigan. Education: Studied English at Michigan State University, 1977–79. Family: Married Gillian Greene; children: Lorne, Henry, one daughter. Career: Worked as production assitant for industrial filmmaker Vern Nobles; directed television commercials in Detroit area; co-founder of Renaissance Pictures, 1979; executive producer of television series' Hercules: The Legendary Journeys , Xena: Warrior Princess , and American Gothic , 1995, Spy Game and Young Hercules , 1997, and others. Awards: Knokke'heist Film Festival (Belgium), best horror film, 1982, Sitges Film Festival (Spain), best horror film and best special effects, 1982, Paris Festival of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, first prize of critics and first prize of public, 1983, and Fangoria magazine award for best horror film of the year, 1983, all for The Evil Dead; Catalonian International Film Festival (Spain), best director, for Darkman , 1990; Catalonian International Film Festival Time-Machine Honorary Award, 1992; Fantasporto Critics' Award, Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film Golden Raven, for Army of Darkness , 1993; Cognac (France) Festival du Film Policier Special Jury Prize, for A Simple Plan , 1999. Agent: International Creative Management, 8942 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90211–1934.

Films as Director:


It's Murder!


Clockwork ; Within the Woods (+ sc)


The Evil Dead (+ sc, pr, ro as Fisherman on side of road [uncredited])

Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi


Crimewave (+ sc)


Evil Dead II (+ sc, ro as Knight [uncredited])


Darkman (+ sc)


Army of Darkness (+ sc, ro as Knight in Sweatshirt and Sneakers [uncredited])


The Quick and the Dead


A Simple Plan


For Love of the Game


The Gift ; Doomsday Man



Other Films:


Hefty's (Premin) (ro as Cook Îťm2)


Spies like Us (Landis) (ro as Drive-In Security); Stryker's War (Becker) (ro as Cult Leader)


The Dead Next Door (Bookwalter) (pr [uncredited]); Maniac Cop (Lustig) (ro as Parade Reporter); Intruder (Spiegel) (ro as Randy)


Easy Wheels (O'Malley) (sc [as Celia Abrams], pr)


Maniac Cop 2 (Lustig) (ro as Newscaster); Miller's Crossing (Coen) (ro as Snickering Gunman)


Lunatics: A Love Story (Becker) (pr)


The Nutt House (Adam Rifkin) (sc [as Alan Smithee Jr.]); Flying Saucers over Hollywood: The Plan 9 Companion (Carducci) (ro as Himself/Interviewee); Innocent Blood (Landis) (ro as Roma Meats Man)


Hard Target (Woo) (pr); Indian Summer (Binder) (ro as Stick Coder); Body Bags (Carpenter and Hooper-for TV) (ro as Dead Attendant); Journey to the Center of the Earth (for TV) (ro as Collins)


The Hudsucker Proxy (Coen) (sc, ro as Hudsucker Brainstormer); Timecop (Hyams) (pr); Darkman II: The Return of Durant (May) (pr); The Flintstones (Levant) (ro as Cliff Look-a-Like)


Galaxis (Mesa) (ro as Nervous Official)


Darkman III: Darkman Must Die (May) (pr)


The Shining (Garris-miniseries for TV) (ro as Gas Station Howie)


Hercules and Xena—The Animated Movie: The Battle for Mount Olympus (Naylor) (pr); Young Hercules (Scott) (pr)


Intimate Portrait: Kelly Preston (Golde) (role as himself)


By RAIMI: book—

The Hudsucker Proxy , New York, 1994.

By RAIMI: article—

"Gun Slinging Sam" (interview), in Film Threat (Beverly Hills), no. 22, June 1995.

On RAIMI: articles—

Warren, Bill, "Darkman Director," in Starlog , no. 158, Septem-ber 1990.

Clark, J., "Some of Sam," in Premiere (Boulder), March 1995.

Hoxter, Julian, "The Evil Dead: From Splatstick to Slaptshtick," in Necronomicon: The Journal of Horror and Erotic Cinema, Book One , edited by Andy Black, London, 1996.

Nashawaty, Chris, "Out of Left Field," in Entertainment Weekly , vol. 1, no. 503, 17 September 1999.

* * *

Director, writer, producer, and occasional actor Samuel Raimi was born the third of five children, and was raised in a large home in Franklin, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. His father, Leonard Raimi, a furniture and appliance store owner, staged and shot elaborate home movies, and Sam quickly became "fascinated by the fact that you could capture reality, however staged, with an 8mm camera, replay it, edit it, and make things happen in a different order than they did in real life."

When he was just eleven years old, the younger Raimi made his first film. At age thirteen, he bought his first 8mm camera, using money he had earned from raking leaves. The movies he made at this time ranged from slapstick comedies that resembled and were inspired by his beloved Three Stooges, to a huge "Civil War extravanganza using props and costumes with fifty extras." Sam and his older brother Ivan (with whom he would later co-write Darkman and Army of Darkness ) were constantly experimenting with different camera techniques in order to get the strangest angles possible—a preoccupation evident in his films to this day. At the age of fifteen, Sam and his friend Bruce Campbell (who would go on to attain cult status as Ash in the Evil Dead trilogy) began attending classes taught by industrial filmmaker Vern Nobles. Nobles hired Sam as a production assistant, and after directing his own amateur films (as well as some commercials in the local Detroit area), Raimi enrolled at Michigan State University. There he met future business partner and aspiring producer Robert Tapert. Sam, Ivan, Tapert, and Campbell formed Renaissance Pictures, and after a few early efforts by Raimi ( It's Murder! , Within the Woods , and Clockwork ), they struck gold with The Evil Dead in 1982.

Stephen King called The Evil Dead , "the most ferociously original horror movie I have ever seen," and this unexpected compliment brought the picture instant credibility. Made on a budget of approximately $50,000, Raimi's backers were at first annoyed because the film appeared to be a comedy, when they thought they would be getting a horror movie. But it is precisely the director's trademark combination of gore and slapstick (otherwise known as "splatstick"), along with his innovative camerawork—particularly his use of demon point-of-view shots—which made the film a hit. The Evil Dead , an expanded version of Raimi's earlier short, Within the Woods (also starring Campbell), tells the story of five students who travel to a creepy cabin in the woods for a weekend break and are cut off from the outside world when a bridge collapses beneath them. In the basement of the cabin, the students find the Book of the Dead (bound in human skin) and a tape recorder. The tape's narrator warns of the evil dead, malevolent demons he has unwisely summoned. Sure enough, the evil dead show up, and all hell breaks loose. One of the female student goes outside and is raped by possessed vines, a scene which incurred the wrath of moralists in Britain, and led to the film being prosecuted under existing "video nasty" legislation. Although The Evil Dead 's super low budget is unintentionally revealed at times, the film's kinetic camerawork, over-the-top gore, and sheer intensity insured its status as a cult fave.

In 1985, Raimi teamed up with friends Joel and Ethan Coen (who hit the big time a year before with Blood Simple ) on the flawed but inspired Crimewave. In this movie, a pair of cartoon-like exterminator/hitmen kill the owner of a burglar-alarm company, and proceed to stalk the partner who hired them, his wife, and a nerd framed for the murder, who tells the story in flashback from the electric chair. Two years later, Raimi would direct the next installment of The Evil Dead on a substantially higher budget than his previous efforts. Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn retells the entire story of the first film in about ten minutes, and develops the franchise's underlying mythos, thereby paving the way for the third and most whacked out installment, Army of Darkness , in 1993. One crucial difference between Evil Dead II and its predecessor is that the latter is a more overtly comic film. The gore is still there, in spades, but as one critic puts it, "the flying eyeballs and lopped-off appendages serve as the functional equivalents of custard pies and buckets of whitewash rather than anything psychologically retrograde."

Raimi made his major-studio debut with Darkman in 1990, which he co-wrote as well as directed. Although he tried to secure the eponymous lead role for his friend Campbell, the producers opted instead for established star Liam Neeson. The film—a moderate success at best—concerns a scientist who is horribly burned by a fire in his lab lit by criminals. Using the synthetic skin he had invented, he seeks revenge under different identities. After Army of Darkness , Raimi teamed up with the Coen brothers once again, this time on The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), which he co-wrote. In 1993–94, Raimi also co-produced a pair of Jean Claude Van Damme action spectaculars, Hard Target (directed by Hong Kong legend John Woo), and Time Cop. In addition, he found great success as executive producer of the hit schlock television shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess. Raimi returned as director on the revisionist Western, The Quick and the Dead (1995), starring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio. But his critical breakthrough came three years later, in 1998, with A Simple Plan , in which Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton play brothers who find a bag full of money in the woods, with disastrous consequences. As well as being Raimi's first heavyweight, serious film, it was also his first shot at directing an adaptation of a bestselling novel (written by Scott M. Smith). A Simple Plan wound up garnering two Oscar nominations, for Best Supporting Actor (Thornton), and for Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Raimi's next feature, the tepid Kevin Costner baseball vehicle For Love of the Game (1999), led some fans to believe he was selling out. But that view should change with his upcoming film, Spider-Man scheduled to appear in 2001.

—Steven Schneider

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