Tag Archive: Sam Raimi


By Brandon Engel

October is by and large the unofficial horror film month. As the weather grows increasingly chilly and the leaves fall from the trees baring their skeletons there is a spooky feeling in the air (and it’s not just the trick or treaters). Of course, Halloween being the ending note to the month certainly helps solidify horror films popularity during October, but there’s just something about that autumn breeze rustling the leaves and shaking the tree branches that makes it optimal weather to get scared out of your mind.

When looking for some great horror films to watch people usually revert to the classics. Psycho, Halloween, Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, and Night of the Living Dead are often at the top of every horror buff’s list. Given the current (laughable) state of horror films, who could blame them for looking for older films to give them that fright? Fighting back against the typical overkill that’s dominating today’s horror films are a handful of directors who’ve been able to create this generation’s horror classics. Sure, you can watch those great horror marathons that many cable stations are airing right now (like the AMC Fear Fest, SyFy Channel’s 31 Days of Horror, and more – try here for ways to watch), or you can build your own marathon of the older greats and the new classics. Let’s take a look at the top five best horror films of the modern age that you can add to that list.

Donnie Darko

While not being a jump-out-of-your-seat typical horror film, this 2001 film is a psychologically thrilling film that stirs up an incredible amount of anxiety from it’s viewers. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular character it takes place in 1988 in Middlesex, Virginia. In the film Donnie starts to have visions of a man named Frank who appears to him wearing a rabbit costume, Frank warns Donnie the end of the world will happen in 28 days. The film follows Donnie as he struggles in school and in therapy, where he’s diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. We watch as Donnie’s mental state deteriorates and relationships become strained building up to a bewildering climax at the end of the film.

The Conjuring

This 2013 film directed by James Wan and starring Vera Farmiga made over $318 million during it’s run in theaters and became one of the highest grossing horror films of all time. Tens of millions of people all around the world rushed to theaters to watch this supernatural horror film set in rural Rhode Island in the 1970’s.
Farmiga plays Carolyn Perron who, along with her husband Roger and daughters Sadie, Cindy, Andrea, Christine, Nancy, and April, begin to experience paranormal events following the discovery of Sadie laying dead outside the house one morning. Following Sadie’s death the strange and unexplained events begin to take place more frequently and becoming more violent. In a state of panic Carolyn brings in paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren, who inform her that her home was once owned by a witch who placed a curse on the land before sacrificing a newborn baby and herself to the devil in 1863. As the Warren’s try to help the Perrons rid themselves of his curse, the activity takes a turn for the extreme and puts everyone’s lives in danger.

Drag Me to Hell

As if the name itself wasn’t frightening enough this Sam Raimi directed film tells the story of an ordinary bank loan officer named Christine (played by Alison Lohman). She enjoys her job but her boss tells her she’s got to be tougher with her loans if she wants to advance in the bank. She takes his advice and decides to deny a mortgage extension to an elderly woman who begins to beg and plead her to reconsider or she’ll lose her house. Christine asks security to take the woman away because she’s scared of the woman, and after she gets off work the woman attacks her, rips a button from her coat, and uses it to place a curse on her.
She later visits a fortune teller who informs her she has been cursed and and as long as she possesses the cursed object (the button) she will be haunted by the demon Lamia who will torture her for three days before dragging her to hell. As the three days progress Christine is visited multiple times by Lamia physically and psychologically attacks her and drives her toward madness. She continues to see the fortune teller who is her only hope to understand what is going on, but her three days are running out and she’ll soon be dragged to hell if she doesn’t find a way to break the curse.

The Cabin in the Woods

This film, which serves as an incredibly promising directorial debut forDrew Goddard, tells the story of a group of college students who take a weekend retreat to a remote cabin in the woods. The cabin and it’s surroundings are being controlled by two men who are working from an underground facility and part of a mysterious project or group that has drugged the group and is monitoring them.
After one of them inadvertently summons the zombies of the sadistic former owners of the cabin the group must fight for their lives while trying to understand what is going on. With the zombies attacking and the group frantically trying their best to escape, their efforts are fought by those at the facility, who are watching with bated breath. The film not only creates a sense of fear from the zombie attacks, but also mystery from never fully knowing what the men monitoring the situation are motivated by until the end.

Let the Right One In

While this Swedish horror film may require you to read subtitles, the sense of fear it projects is international. Set in the suburbs of Stockholm in the film follows a bullied 12 year old boy named Oskar. When he meets a strange girl his own age named Eli, he immediately falls in love with her despite her eccentricities. Those eccentricities, Oskar soon finds out, are due to the fact that Eli is a vampire, and her father is the one who’s bringing her blood from the bodies of those he’s killed to keep her alive. Despite his young age Oskar is in an all too real mental battle between feeling love or repulsion towards Eli.

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It’s hard to feel bad for Disney. They own Marvel Studios, with “Iron Man 3” becoming one of the top grossing films of all time. They own Pixar and “Monsters University” earned more than $400 million worldwide so far. Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” earned nearly $500 million worldwide. And yet for all its success, the last two years it’s now home to two of the biggest bombs in recent memory. Last year, it was of course “John Carter”. From Pixar darling Andrew Stanton and starring Taylor Kitsch, the film lost $200 million. First, the good news for Disney. “The Lone Ranger” starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, isn’t expected to lose that much. The bad news? It could cost the studio $150 million if current box office projections hold. Makes you wonder if Disney will sever ties with Jerry Bruckheimer. He did bring the studio “Pirates of the Caribbean”, but also “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Potential big spoilers for Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”.

Rumors are that the sequel, which features Jamie Foxx as Electro, Paul Giamatti as Rhino and Chris Cooper as Norman Osborn, who becomes the Green Goblin has some bigger plans in mind. Comic Book Movie is reporting that the already cast Colm Feore is playing the Vulture and that he will be joining Electro, Rhino and the Green Goblin to begin to form the Sinister Six, which will be the main antagonists in “The Amazing Spider-Man 3”. Of course, that would leave two spaces open. In the comics, Mysterio, Sandman, Kraven the Hunter and Doctor Octopus all were part of the team. But with that tease to Venom, perhaps Venom takes one of the spots for the movies? Anyways, all this is pure speculation and that would be a lot of villains to juggle in one movie. Sam Raimi struggled with Sandman and Venom in “Spider-Man 3” so more isn’t always better. But the thought certainly is enticing. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone return as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, respectively.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Because IMax 3D makes everything better…right? We’ve already had Sam Raimi’s “Oz The Great and Powerful” starring James Franco. Now Victor Fleming’s 1939 classic “The Wizard of Oz” is set for a limited engagement starting September 20 in IMax 3D! Why do you ask? because there will also be a five-disc box set to celebrate the 75th anniversary. The classic stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bulger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton. Not sure what will be gained for audiences by seeing the film in 3D, but it’s a way to get people to pay even more money to see the film.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

After Sam Raimi left “World of Warcraft” it appeared that adaptation of the popular game was dead. Then Duncan Jones (“Moon”, ‘Source Code”) replaced him and now come news that the film will shoot the first part of 2014! Producer Charles Roven (“The Dark Knight Rises”, “Man of Steel”) said the film will shoot in the first quarter of next and year and is targeting a 2015 release.

I don’t know, I think they missed the time frame on this one for it to be a hit.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

A week after “Evil Dead” comes the return of the horror spoof comedy that started it all, “Scary Movie V”. And just in time for baseball season comes “42”. Which will come out on top?

Back in 2000, “Scary Movie” surprised a lot of people grossing more than $150 million. Fast forward to 2013 and spoof movies…frankly are worse in quality and, for studios, worse in box office receipts. Marlon Wayans (Formerly from the Scary Movie franchise) saw “A Haunted House” open to $18 million and finish with $40 million. “Scary Movie 5” has seen franchise vets like Anna Faris move on but Simon Rex is back and Ashley Tisdale is joining him. Plus there’s those appearances from Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan. Still, it’s tough to see this faring any better.

Opening weekend: $15-20 million

I’m surprised its being released now, but “42”, the story of Jackie Robinson hits theaters as well. It has Oscar bait written all over it, though reviews haven’t been that enthusiastic. “Moneyball”, which starred Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, was very successful, opening to $19 million on its way to more than $75 million. But that was in the height of Oscar season. I’m not sure people will flock to see this one. Harrison Ford has been heavily prominent in marketing, but let’s face it, other than the universally hated “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, what’s the last hit he’s had?

Opening weekend: $10-15 million

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell produced remake of “Evil Dead” scared its way into the top spot at the box office, earning $26 million over the weekend. That’s  the good news. The bad news is it was front loaded on Friday and movie goers gave it a C+ score, which doesn’t bode well for this film having any sort of legs. The Steven Spielberg classic “Jurassic Park 3D” opened in fourth with $18.2 million, which is on par with the other live action 3D re-releases (“Titanic” and “Star Wars”). Second place was a virtual tie between “The Croods” and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Sam Raimi’s horror classic sees its remake hit theaters with “Evil Dead”. Will it scare its way into the top spot?

“Evil Dead”, from director Fede Alvarez has been building hype for a while now. From its posters that proclaimed it the most terrifying film you’ll ever see to its premiere at South by Southwest, combined with the love people have for the original films and this one has the makings for a big horror hit. But let’s not forget “Texas Chainsaw 3D” opened to $21 million…only to have a final gross of $34 million. Since 2003’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, horror remakes, sequels, etc. have been hit and miss. Even established franchises like “Scream” have struggled to find audiences in recent years. Still, this one will open up well this weekend. The question is how good of legs will it have. I’m betting it will have decent, but not great, legs and wind up with a total of about $70 million.

Opening weekend: $25-30 million

The other new release isn’t really a new release. “Jurassic Park 3D”, the classic from Steven Spielberg starring Sam Neill, returns to theaters. In the past, 3D re-releases have done OK, with ‘Titanic 3D” opening to about $17 million last year and “Star Wars Episode 1 3D” not doing well enough to justify releasing the other episodes. Still, there’s enough people out there that never got to see Jurassic Park on the big screen who probably will love the chance to see it.

Opening weekend: $15-20 million

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Director  Fede Alvarez’s remake of “Evil Dead” is about to hit theaters with a very serious tone. Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were charged with the original “Evil Dead” that was campy in tone. Both series are getting planned sequel. Alvarez’s sequel of course depends on its box office performance. Raimi’s would be more in line as “Army of Darkness 2”. That would mean there would be six Evil Dead films, four in the original’s universe and two in the new one. What about a seventh film? That is being planned right now Alvarez said that film would combine both worlds.

That would be pretty tricky and, while it sounds good on paper, difficult to execute. But that would make for one heck of a finale.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Can someone knock off Sam Raimi’s “Oz The Great and Powerful”?

The short answer is yes. “The Croods”, which features the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Clark Duke and Cloris Leachman is the first bona fide big family movie of the year. Lots of marketing and with a lack of family films recently except for “Escape From Planet Earth” means families will be out in some good numbers to see this film.

Opening weekend: $40-45 million

“Olympus Has Fallen”, starring Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, is the best “Die Hard” film to come out this year. I’ll have my review up on this film later this weekend, but despite being a decent action flick it likely won’t break the spell of action movies performing poorly at the box office.

Opening weekend: $18-23 million

Offered as counter programming, “Admission” is an interesting film. It’s a romantic comedy, yes, but it also stars Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Michael Sheen, Wallace Shawn, Gloria Reuben, Nat Wolff and Lily Tomlin, which is a heck of a cast. But it’ll likely fail to find much of an audience.

Opening weekend: $5-10 million

Also, “Spring Breakers” expands into more than 1,000 theaters. But don’t expect it to do much more than $5 million.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.