Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Crimewave (1985)

Written as the XYZ Murders by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen and Sam Raimi, this film had a sneak preview as Broken Hearts And Noses before eventually being released as Crimewave. Now the film has been disowned by director Sam Raimi for a number of reasons. Embassy Pictures who produced what was Sam Raimi's first theatrical film after his low budget hit The Evil Dead insisted that Bruce Campbell be replaced as the films leading man, they replaced editor Kaye Davis and had composer Joseph LoDuca removed.
Now when I first seen this film all I knew was I loved The Evil Dead and this was from the same bunch of guys, and also the Coen Brothers who'd made the superb Blood Simple the year before.
The first time I had any hint of the problems that this movie had production wise was on an episode of The Incredibly Strange Film Show presented by Jonathon Ross, a 40 minute documentary shot with Raimi just when he was gearing up to direct Darkman, they talk about the 2 Evil Dead movies and Crimewave. Bruce Campbell who helped produce the film with Robert Tapert said they were totally ill prepared for making a film with real producers, and if they fell a day behind schedule the studio would send someone down and say which pages of the script do we tear out to get you back up to schedule ?
The one thing I do remember about this interview is that at the end Jonathon Ross says despite all the problems and Sam Raimi not liking the film it still is a wonderful little movie, which I'd have to agree it is. It's a bit disjointed at times but there are loads of wonderful set pieces and 3 Stooges-esque gags in this film. Bruce Campbell who eventually got cast in the film as Renaldo 'The Heel' is superb in the few scenes he's in, as are Paul (Dune) Smith and Brion(Blade Runner) James as the 2 exterminators, Faron Crush and Arthur Coddish.
Sheree J. Wilson is great as Nancy, in fact the only reel weak link is Reed Birney as the films hero, Vic Ajax.
As a film myself and some mates still quote lines from this on a regular basis, and we all have still love this somewhat forgotten gem.

Plot Summary:
The film's story concerns Victor Ajax, a young technician in the employ of Trend-Odegard Security. Mr. Trend, co-owner of the company, has learned of a plan by his partner to sell the company to Renaldo "The Heel" and responds by hiring two exterminators who promise to "kill all sizes" , in order to eliminate Odegard and his plan. When Vic, who has been installing security cameras in Trend's apartment building, seems about to go back to the store, Trend distracts him with a lecture about "the grand design" and sends Vic on a quest to find his dream girl. The dream girl spontaneously materializes in the form of Nancy, who responds minimally to Vic but is enamored of Renaldo. Victor and several residents of the building including Mrs. Trend run afoul of the killers and a seemingly random series of slapstick murders ensues, which is ultimately pinned on Victor. The movie is framed by Vic's journey to the electric chair for the crimes as Nancy, accompanied by several nuns, races to the scene in order to clear him.


Michael G Clark said...

its been years since I've seen this one. I can't remember the lead actor at all and thought Campbell was the lead. Some funny moments and mad set pieces.

paulhd said...

You know I'm sort of disappointed Sam Raimi's disowning Crimewave, even if it was a bad experience making it I loved the end result (the Coen's must have liked it, Hudsucker Proxy has a hell of a lot in common with it)
Does this mean the weak Spidey3 will be disowned soon?

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Yeah Paul, the jail at the beginning of the movie is 'Hudsucker County Jail' so we can see the Coen influence from scene one !!