Sam Raimi is about to make what could be a triumphant return to filmmaking or proof that art in America has been neutered to the point of harmlessness. If Marvel takes the fire out of Sam Raimi on his movie “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” … not to be dramatic, but what hope left are we meant to have that American cinema isn’t dead?
I’m especially nervous because Sam Raimi was one of the first directors I ever loved. When I was about 9 or 10 my father and I rented “Evil Dead 2” and I was stunned into silence. By now I’d seen my fair share of Chuck Jones and Frank Tashlin Looney Tunes but to see their grammar applied to a movie with Ray Harryhausen-style monsters and chainsaw arms. When you’re a certain kind of kid you’re in hog heaven.
Then I discovered the rest of his work and what a bounty he had already provided for his fans, and this was before he took to the blockbuster with his incredible and idiosyncratic Spider-Man films, which brings us full circle because it was the response to these films that helped pave the way for the full scale invasion of American movies by this new neo-liberal form of populist media and now he’s back at it under their auspices. We shall see. We shall see.
But before we exhale, a look at my favorite of his B-sides, this incredible anti-capitalist fable shot through with the technique of silent cinema and cartoons alike.