October’s Filmmaker of the Month: Sam Raimi

For this spookiest of months, we run down the filmography of one of horror’s self-made maestros.

Looking back on his filmography, it’s wild to think that Sam Raimi, like a lot of filmmakers of his generation, started out with nothing more than a Super 8 camera, his brothers and friends, and a dream. Growing up in a Conservative Jewish family in Detroit, Raimi, along with brothers Ted and Ivan and friend Bruce Campbell, ran around their neighborhood making small, gonzo horror movies using what little tools they had at their disposal. A few scant years later, he scrounged up enough investors and money from friends and family to make The Evil Dead, the film that would not just launch Raimi’s career, but change the film grammar of horror itself.

So, now that October is nigh, the leaves are falling, and the ghosts are coming out to play (and it’s the man’s birth month), we thought it high time to pay homage to one of Hollywood’s most robust rags-to-riches stories. This month, we’ll be talking about his horror movies, sure, but we’ll also get the chance to flit around with his other genre dabblings: Westerns, crime dramas, high-budget superhero franchises that essentially kickstarted our modern comic-book blockbuster era. We’ll be charting his start-and-stop trajectory through independent cult notoriety to some of the biggest movies of all time, all the while seeing where his kinetic, Dutch-angled cinematic style bleeds through the gore and into his more mainstream fare.

Sam Raimi The Classic
Sam Raimi’s “Classic” Oldsmobile Delta 88.

All the while, we’ll also be earmarking the way Raimi’s thematic and stylistic concerns pop up in most, if not all, of his films: the vivid, high camp filmmaking, the perils of opening Pandora’s box (the Necronomicon, Darkman‘s face-printing technology, the money in A Simple Plan), that 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 (“The Classic”) that crops up in nearly every picture of his. His is a very freewheeling style, which naturally gets muted the more money and studio pull he faces (see: Oz, the Great and Powerful). But even in his weakest works, one can’t help but look back at the Jewish kid growing up in Detroit, making home movies with his friends and wondering whether he could do this For Real. Well, the boy made good, and we’re here to show you how and why.

Keep an eye on this space throughout October as we offer retrospectives on all of his major directorial works to date (and maybe some pre-Evil Dead stuff too).

Read the rest of our Sam Raimi coverage here:

“It’s Murder!”: It’s the Sam Raimi Blueprint!
“The Evil Dead” remains Sam Raimi’s best DIY triumph
“You broke my shocker!”: Sam Raimi and the Coens go on a “Crimewave”
“Evil Dead II” remixed Raimi’s first big film to gory, gut-busting effect
“Darkman” was Sam Raimi’s original superhero classic
“Army of Darkness” turns “Evil Dead” into giddy fantasy slapstick
“The Quick and the Dead” is fast on the draw & a ton of fun
“A Simple Plan” is a masterclass in bone-chilling tension

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