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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sam Raimi

Date of Birth
23 October 1959, Royal Oak, Michigan, USA

Birth Name
Samuel Marshall Raimi


5' 11" (1.80 m)

Mini Biography

Highly inventive US film director/producer/writer/actor Sam Raimi first came to the attention of film fans with the savage, yet darkly humorous, low-budget horror film The Evil Dead (1981). From his childhood Raimi was a fan of the cinema and before he was ten years old, he was out making movies with an 8mm camera. He was a devoted fan of The Three Stooges, so much of Raimi's film work in his teens, with good friends Bruce Campbell and Robert G. Tapert, was slapstick comedy based around what they had observed from Stooges movies.

Among the three of them they wrote, directed, produced and edited a short horror movie titled Within the Woods (1978), which was then shown to prospective investors to raise the money necessary to film The Evil Dead (1981). It met with lukewarm interest in the US with local distributors, so Raimi took the film to Europe, where it was much more warmly received. After it started gaining positive reviews and, more importantly, ticket sales upon its release in Europe, US distributors showed renewed interest, and "Evil Dead" was eventually released stateside to strong box office returns. His next directorial effort was Crimewave (1985), a quirky, cartoon-like effort that failed to catch fire with audiences. However, he bounced back with Evil Dead II (1987), a racier and more humorous remake/sequel to the original "Dead" that did even better at the box office. Raimi was then given his biggest budget to date to shoot Darkman (1990), a comic book-style fantasy about a scarred avenger. The film did moderate business, but Raimi's strong visual style was evident throughout the film via inventive and startling camera work that caught the attention of numerous critics.

The third chapter in the Evil Dead story beckoned, and Raimi once again directed buddy Campbell as the gritty hero "Ash", in the Gothic horror _Army of Darkness (1993)_ . Raimi surprised fans when he took a turn away from the fantasy genre and directed Gene Hackman and Sharon Stone in the sexy western The Quick and the Dead (1995); four years later he took the directorial reins on A Simple Plan (1998), a crime thriller about stolen money starring Bill Paxton and Bridget Fonda. In early 1999 he directed the baseball film For Love of the Game (1999) and in 2000 returned to the fantasy genre with a top-flight cast in The Gift (2000). In 2002 Raimi was given a real opportunity to demonstrate his dynamic visual style with the big-budget film adaptation of the Stan Lee comic book superhero Spider-Man (2002), and fans were not disappointed. The movie was strong in both script and effects, and was a runaway success at the box office. Of course, Raimi returned for the sequel, Spider-Man 2 (2004), which surpassed the original in box-office takings.

Raimi remains one of Hollywood's most creative, exciting and intelligent filmmakers.

Trade Mark

Raimi is a huge fan of The Three Stooges. He made many super-8 films that resembled classic Stooge shorts. He uses Stooge-like sequences in many of his movies.

Often credits a character called a "Shemp", a homage to the Three Stooges. Most frequently it is a "Fake Shemp", a reference to the Three Stooges shorts where a stunt man was used in place of Shemp Howard.

Often has a voiceover from a principal character at the end of his films.

On-going in-joke feud with Wes Craven.

Frequently casts Bruce Campbell, 'Theodore Craven' .

Kinetic, wild camera movement.

Likes the "whip pan," possibly inspired by Martin Scorsese.

Frequently figures out difficult shots by "reverse motion acting" (filming the actor acting backwards and playing in reverse).

Usually wears a jacket and tie on the set of his films, a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock.

Often includes scenes in his movies in which large clocks/clock towers play important parts; for example, The Quick and the Dead (1995), Spider-Man 2 (2004).

Often has his Oldsmobile appear in his films.


Attended Michigan State University, East Lansing MI, as an English major.

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen use many of Raimi's trademark camera movements in their films.

Brother of Ted Raimi and Ivan Raimi.

Has had an automobile named "the classic" in every one of his films.

Always has his car (a yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88) somewhere visible to the audience in all of his films (including a modified covered wagon, according to Bruce Campbell, in The Quick and the Dead (1995)) It is even visible in the Spider-Man (2002) trailer (the car that Spider-man jumps on).

During the mid-80s, Raimi used to live in an apartment with actor Bruce Campbell, writer/director Scott Spiegel, writer/director Joel Coen, writer/producer Ethan Coen and actresses Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand and Kathy Bates.

His wife Gillian is the daughter of Lorne Greene.

Often casts his brother, Ted Raimi, in his films.

Is a avid fan of Spider-Man comic books.

Friends with director John Landis. Had cameos in Landis' Spies Like Us (1985) and Innocent Blood (1992), while Landis did cameos in Raimi's Darkman (1990) and Spider-Man 2 (2004). Both also appeared in Stephen King's ABC mini-series "The Stand" (1994) (mini).

Many years before landing the role of director on the Spider-Man movies, Raimi planned to create a film based on Marvel's comic interpretation of "The Mighty Thor" with Stan Lee. While the movie never materialized, Lee, co-creator of Spider-Man and many other Marvel characters, became good friends with Raimi and later appeared in cameos on the Spidey flicks.

In 2004, both he and the Coen brothers cast J.K. Simmons and Bruce Campbell in one of their movies; Spider-Man 2 (2004) and The Ladykillers (2004).

Has worked with actor J.K. Simmons four times - Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), For Love of the Game (1999), and The Gift (2000).

Born on the same day as 'Weird Al' Yankovic' .

His oldest brother, Sander, died in a swimming pool accident at the age of 15 while on a scholarship trip to Israel. Sander used to perform magic tricks for Sam and his friends; when he died, Sam learned to perform the tricks himself.

His family name was changed from the German name Reingewertz.

Ranked #33 on Premiere's 2005 Power 50 List #48 on the 2004 list and #37 in 2003.

He wanted to adapt and direct The Shadow (1994), but was denied the rights to do it. Instead, he created his own superhero with his film Darkman (1990).

Ranked #33 on Premiere's 2005 Power 50 List. Had ranked #48 in 2004.

Ranked #23 on Premiere's 2006 "Power 50" list. Had ranked #33 in 2005.

His breakthrough project, the low-budget horror cult film "The Evil Dead" (1981), had an estimated budget of $350,000. Twenty-five years later he helmed a production with an estimated budget at 1,000 times the cost of that film, "Spider-Man 3" (2007), with an estimated production cost of $350,000,000, making it the most expensive motion picture produced up to that time.

1977 graduate of Birmingham Groves High School, Birmingham, Michigan.

Personal Quotes

"I love the Spider-Man character. And that's what's at the heart of it. That's why I really love it. But there's another fun thing that I never had before where you make your movie and a lot of people see it and they seem to like it. So it's like oh my god, I've always been the nerd, lame ass guy on the side, but I made something that a lot of people like. I know that won't last for long, and I'm obviously riding the Spider-Man thing. He's a popular character for 40 years. So anyone who makes a Spider-Man movie gets to make a popular movie. But it's fun to be popular, even if it's a brief, lame thing, and even though I know it's not important. I can't help it. It's really fun and I know how quickly things turn in Hollywood."

"Audiences really don't go see a lot of movies - except in L.A. and New York I think, and maybe one or two other cities, maybe Chicago - where there are foreign-born, foreign-speaking actors. That's just the culture we are."

"And it was great making movies in college because if you made the right movie you'd get this cigar box full of $5 and $1 bills, you'd have like 500 bucks after a weekend. And it was like oh my god, we're rich! We've got to make another picture. But if the movie bombed, you spent a lot of money on the movie, on the ads at the State news, renting the theater, lugging these heavy speakers, the projector bulbs, [and] it was a washout, you realize this movie is not making money. I'm broke. I've got to make the movie that they want to see. So it was a great learning experience."

And I do think there's a new crop of American filmmakers coming. And they're in high school right now. They're in Mrs. Dawson's English class! They've got new tools, they've got computers and the video cameras, which are the equivalent of our super-8mm training ground. It's even better because they can shoot for free. We had to gather up like four bucks, five bucks to buy a roll of film, another three bucks to process it, and that was a very limiting [thing], in high school you've gotta rake leaves for three hours to shoot a roll of film! So these new filmmakers have these advanced editing tools with the incredible manipulation of imagery available on a standard computer."

"I think if people love the source material, and that's really whey they're making the movie, then that's a natural outcome. That the things we all love, and work with the creators of the movie to save the things that were so effective. I think it's situations where people don't love the material, they just say, oh that was a big hit, it could be a big hit here. It's just generalizing. Things got lost if you don't understand why people like a thing. When you love something, it's easy to say, 'That's my son, cut out his heart? No, he needs the heart.' It's harder when you don't love the thing yourself."

"At every step of the way wanted to be careful to make sure that what they thought worked in Japanese horror got translated into this. [Taka and Shimizu] didn't want to have solid explanations for everything. That was the challenge, to somehow make it acceptable to the American audience, rules being one of the many things we talked about but not lose what make it striking and unique." [on 'Grudge, The']

In an American horror film, you usually have a character and a shot of them. Then their point-of-view moving down a hallway, approaching a door and they're coming closer to the door. And a hand reaches for the knob, and you know, the moment or the moment before or the moment after, based on the timing of the editor and the director, there'll be a big moment of an attack or a scare. What Shimizu does is a moment where Sarah Michelle Gellar is opening this closet, to see what's inside, and we Americans think something is going to jump out, there's nothing in the closet but darkness. And then you start to realize, within that darkness, you see a shape. Is it a knee? Oh, yes it's a knee, and there's a face in there. That's always been there. That I can just perceive within the blackness. And it unnerves me in the freakiest way! And in a completely different way than the sledgehammer technique of some of our cruder American directors. [pause] Such as myself!"

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