Combustible Celluloid
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With: Louise Lasser, Paul L. Smith, Brion James, Sheree J. Wilson, Edward R. Pressman, Bruce Campbell, Reed Birney, Antonio Fargas, Richard Bright, Richard DeManincor, Emil Sitka, Wiley Harker
Written by: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Sam Raimi
Directed by: Sam Raimi
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 86
Date: 04/25/1985

Crimewave (1985)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Committing a 'Crime'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

When I first interviewed Bruce Campbell in 2001, I told him I hadn't yet managed to track down Crimewave (1985), his and director Sam Raimi's follow-up to their masterpiece The Evil Dead. "You don't need to see that," was his reply. I finally saw it, and, yes, Bruce was right. Despite Raimi and Campbell, and a screenplay by none other than Joel and Ethan Coen, as well as character actor Brion James as a bug-eyed exterminator/assassin, it's pretty bad. It has to do with a nerdy security man, Victor Ajax (Reed Birney), who is accused of multiple murders and sentenced to death; he tries to plead his case in flashbacks. Viewing the opening scene with a car full of nuns racing to stop the execution, screeching around corners and yelling "step on it," I thought I was going to be able to at least appreciate it, but the odd tone, unfunny humor, and just general grossness of it put me off. Legendary film producer Edward R. Pressman plays the owner of the security company, Louise Lasser plays his wife, Campbell plays the smarmy "Renaldo the Heel," and Paul L. Smith (Bluto in Robert Altman's Popeye) plays James's exterminator partner. The Coens, Frances McDormand, Ted Raimi, and producer Rob Tapert apparently all have cameos.

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