Bit of an odd one this film. I don't know about all you others, but if in 1985 I'd heard that the makers of Evil Dead 1 and Blood Simple had teamed up for a feature, I'd have been anticipating a film that was pretty goddamn dark in nature!! But what you actually got instead, was a slapstick comedy, incredibly bizarre as it often is. What I also find surprising, is that according to information in The Evil Dead Companion, Raimi and co. were somehow expecting this film to be the next big thing! But it's just way too odd. Even without studio meddling, it was never gonna be accepted by anything other than the proverbial cult audience or the Raimi die-hards.
Plotline follows the fortunes of one Vic Ajax, an ultra nerdy bespectacled type who becomes embroiled in a case of contract murder and the subsequent mayhem, whilst all the while trying to win over the heart, of the girl of his dreams. The period set flick begins in flashback form as we discover exactly how Vic ended up being sentanced to death for murder. There's moments of sheer Raimi brilliance but that's exactly the problem - they're only moments and feel especially fleeting at times. The chase through the multiple security doorways and the Oldsmobile car chase being two of the obvious main highlights.
Sure there's good fun to be had, such as when observing Bruce Campbell's performance as Renaldo The Heel or the numerous slight gags such as the obnoxious kid being thrown from the elevator, but it somehow feels just a bit too flat, far too often. If I recall correctly, the ED Companion stated that much of the film's wildness was toned down from a worried studio. But even left intact, the film was never gonna be an all out winner, no matter how all out directorially wacky it was allowed to be. Even if Bruce Campbell had landed the lead role as intended, I suspect that the film would only have garnered respect after the Campbell phenomena had well and truly taken off at a much later date.
I own copies of a couple of the 8mm films from the early Raimi/Spiegel/Becker days and whilst The Attack Of The Helping Hand short became an infamous sequence in Evil Dead II, the other (the brilliantly silly Torro!, Torro!, Torro!) is pretty close in spirit to this sort of strange slapstick movie. btw As in Raising Arizona, there's an interesting early Hudsucker reference within this film (the name is presumably some kind of inside joke or tribute?) and just for the record, I personally feel that the later Raimi/Coen brothers Hudsucker Proxy collaboration was a far more successful project.
I recall a Raimi interview where he stated that the worst crime that any film-maker could ever make, would be to deliver a boring movie. Luckily Crimewave is never boring!! Although that's mainly down to Paul L.Smith and Brion "Let me tell you about my mother!" James as the seriously weird human exterminators complete with their "Megahurts" electrocution machine, inspired as certain typically Raimi moments were. The film does have a strange charm, no doubt about it, but it's one of those films that will never acquire a substantial following, presumably hence it's total and utter absence from the dvd format until now.
It's still pretty exciting (for keen Raimi-heads anyway) that this somewhat troubled film has finally emerged on dvd, if only in meagre region 2 land for the time being. Whilst the disc has zero extras (but did you really expect any, except for perhaps the usually obligatory trailer?) and only mono sound, it is a very healthily priced budget release with a decent anamorphic print. This is a dvd that any pre and post-For The Love Of The Game *shudder* Raimi fans should certainly be seriously considering scooping up asap, especially when it's available in this sort of price range from the "Cinema Club" label.