Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)

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It’s pretty sad that at the end of the day, director Sam Raimi had to waste his talents on what is basically a regurgitation of the classic “Wizard of Oz” 1939 film adaptation. He doesn’t even get to think outside the box and offer up his own vision of Oz. Basically, “Oz the Great and Powerful” is yet another version of the movie, but in the view of the all powerful Wizard. The Wizard of Oz is one of cinema’s great macguffins, a big goal the characters work for in the 1939 movie, that they find out was nothing but smoke and mirrors.

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Evil Dead: The Musical (2003)

Well if anything, “Evil Dead: The Musical” is creative. It’s not as funny as it thinks it is, but it has a good time with the material Sam Raimi laid down. It’s kind of odd a musical that features the main character cutting off his hand shies away from the tree rape so blatantly. Not that I am anxious to see a woman violated by tree limbs, but I was wondering why they drew the line at some things and not other.

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Evil Dead (2013)

5NdLEkaI admittedly had little to no faith for the prospects of an “Evil Dead” remake. As many horror fans like myself originally perceived it to be nothing but a cash grab, I expected really nothing but a faint half assed reconditioning much like Platinum Dunes is want to do. Thankfully the 2013 version of “Evil Dead” is not only an excellent horror film, but a rather brilliant character study to boot. It works as a remake, a sequel, and a companion piece. However fans want to think of it, the movie works in that function, thus resolving any aggravation hardcore Sam Raimi buffs will have toward this new version.

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Army of Darkness (1992)

xHU2TXQWhen last we saw Ash Williams in “Evil Dead II,” he was at the butt hole end of a massive portal to hell and could do nothing but hope and pray for the best. In spite of battling the demonic menace in his deserted cabin in the woods for the second time, he unfortunately could only hope the demonic menace within this wormhole would display mercy on him. Or at least let its guard down long enough to allow Ash an escape. Little did he know he’d land in 1300 AD among a culture of people desperately in need of a savior.

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Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn (1987)

The sequel to “The Evil Dead” is once again what happens when Sam Raimi has little and can do so much with it. As director, Raimi finds new ways to enthrall the viewer and add a new appendage to the “Evil Dead” series without ruining the former film. “Dead by Dawn” acts as a sequel and a pseudo-remake, that recaps the original film in a brevity, and then proceeds to follow along with the journey of Ash Williams. Becoming the accidental hero in many ways, Ash is a man tasked with fighting the demonic beings of the necronomicon, not because he chooses to, but because he simply can’t escape their grasp.

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The Evil Dead (1981)

evildead1981Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” is a lot like the demonic entities that are featured in the film itself. It’s larger than life, durable, and just can not be brought down no matter what you do. Every single decade has been exposed to the thrills of “The Evil Dead,” and to this day it stands as a horror grindhouse marvel that is so utterly simplistic, yet so damn thrilling. Even in the changing face of gore, special effects and marketing tactics, “The Evil Dead” has become a staple of the genre living on through Beta right in through the new millennium still being hailed as a bonafide classic to be witnessed by people looking for a classic monster movie.

Raimi’s entire career began on the notion that he could implement his talents as a magic aficionado and he achieves a rare feat of horror independent filmmaking in the tradition of George Romero building a lore for himself and also a flagship character. Enlisting the talent of a then unknown Bruce Campbell, Raimi is able to build a competent hero in a horror movie that possesses a final man instead of a final girl, and thanks to Campbell’s ability to over act he makes “The Evil Dead” an entertaining experience bringing us in at eye level as young Ash is forced to watch his girlfriend and two best friends become meat puppets for demonic forces they unleash after listening to a recorded demonic chant in their cabin in the woods.

In spite of the obvious low tech production qualities, Raimi is able to devise a very thematic and moody little nightmarish horror film with some of the best moments in horror history including the infamous tracking shot chasing Ash throughout his cabin as he mugs for the camera and runs for his life, and the (still) disturbing tree rape that continues to stir up some controversy in this day and age. In spite of possessing some rather prehistoric closing sequences, “The Evil Dead” is a creepy little ditty that garners big points for still being genuinely creepy and a royal mind fuck, especially when the screws begin to turn once the demonic forces have been unleashed among these hapless travelers.

The surrounding area of the cabin tend to come to life and become its own character once the demons have been released from their confines and Raimi brings forth the claustrophobic tension and unease we’d see later in John Carpenter’s The Thing, as this unseen force slowly corrupts the likes of every character and we soon watch in wait wondering who among these four people will reveal themselves to be a twisted creation of this pure force of evil and what punishment they’ll inflict on one another when they do show their true colors. And once they do it makes for wicked imagery turning a game of cards in to a fight for life and death, and Raimi even transforms a tragic burial in to a sick game of peekaboo that is adorable when we meet Ash and his girlfriend but is just utterly horrifying when we know she’s been consumed by the darkness and is now just toying with him.

While some of the effects are ancient, the movie still has an indefinable charm to it that guarantees a damn good time even for the most cynical horror geek who creams at the sight of CGI. While the joints are creaky here and there, “The Evil Dead” is in the league of “Night of the Living Dead” and “Jaws” where it continues to be immortal and outlive other horror classics in the face of changing movie going sentiment and horror cynicism. It’s a moody little nightmare worth the watch.

Three Years Later… "Spider-Man 3"

The transformation scene of Flint Marko de-materializing and then forming in to a human once again through his sand abilities is rather incredible. Raimi just outdoes himself here and the sequence is mesmerizing. There’s even a scene where Sandman balloons in to a humongous sandstorm pounding down on Spider-Man. But, again, no one really cared. Venom was the attraction. What do you expect from the fans? Venom is more popular than Spider-Man himself! But you have to give it to Raimi for at least trying to take a considerably lame villain and attempting to bring him to the attention of movie goers alike. He even retcons the entire origin of Spider-Man by making Sandman one of the folks who took part in the death of Uncle Ben.

So what all seems like a quick crime turns in to a pretty lame moment where Ben tries to talk Flint out of stealing his car and is shot by his partner for his resistance. All things considered, it’s a shame because Thomas Haden Church is a doppleganger to his comic counterpart and his strong performance is just forgotten. Venom is obviously shoe-horned in to the movie due to his sudden introduction in the second half because Raimi commits a heinous crime by completely reducing him in to a second rate villain. With that Raimi makes his position clear to both fans and the studio. He wanted Sandman to take center stage, Venom just isn’t important.

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Three Years Later… "Spider-Man 3"

Many would agree that the comic book movie has somewhat run its course in film. We have seen all the big guns of the comic book genre tackled on the big screen and we’re now being reduced to watching obscure superheroes and indie comics be adapted and fans are pretty exhausted. Even those who are die hard readers. One thing is for sure though: the fad is not dying any time soon even though they breed surefire controversy.

Such an example is the upcoming reboot of the “Spider-Man” movies. Upon reading the news many fans of the films and comics shouted from the rooftops at the sheer gall Sony studios had of wanting to restart the series. So far Sony is planning to completely revamp the big screen vision for the web slinger kicking out director Sam Raimi, and the entire cast and basically starting over from scratch. Obviously it’s to cut the cost of salary, but they insist it’s to completely rethink the direction the series is going in. Sony surprised many by this decision after talks ensued for months about their meetings with director Sam Raimi about plans for part four of the original franchise and even had the original cast contracted for parts four, five, and six.

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