Shout! Factory has announced a May 14 release for the Sam Raimi directed film noir comedy, Crimewave, in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. The movie, which was written by the Coen Brothers (Fargo, The Big Lebowski), stars Reed Birney, Louise Lasser, Bruce Campbell, Paul L. Smith and Brion James. The story follows a businessman that hires two inept “exterminators” to kill his business partner in a burglar-alarm company but his dim-witted wife witnesses the crime and becomes their next target, along with the nerd framed for the murder.
Crimewave was one of Sam Raimi’s earliest films, released between Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, and was a flop at the box office. Raimi encountered a lot of trouble with the studio, Embassy Pictures, during filming and they refused to let Raimi edit the film. Bruce Campbell, who has a supporting role in the film, was expected to be the leading man until the producers made Campbell audition for the role and promptly denied him. Raimi retaliated by expanding a supporting role in the film and giving it to Campbell. On top of the studio interference, trouble brewed on set with lead actress Louise Lasser, who was under the influence of cocaine. She fired her makeup artist and insisted that she apply all her own make-up, often showing up on set with poorly applied “clown make-up” and messed up hair, oblivious to how she appeared. She was also known for refusing to come out of her trailer at times. With all of the trouble the filmmakers experienced while shooting the movie, it’s no surprise that Sam Raimi and the Coen Brothers look back on Crimewave as a disappointing experience.
Despite the troubled history of the film, Crimewave is still an interesting experience, especially for Raimi fans. It has some pretty creative camerawork and Raimi-esque humor. It’s often cartoonish and a little bit crazy but that kind of gives the film its charm. It’s also an amalgam of genres and contains elements of comedy, drama and horror. The trailer for Crimewave (which can be viewed in the embed below) provides an idea of what the film is like and hopefully will inspire you to want to check out Shout! Factory’s release when it hits stores/online retailers.
Crimewave was previously available on VHS but was never released on DVD here in the States. Being that I’m a big fan of Raimi and a completist, I sought out and procured myself a copy of Crimewave on VHS many years ago. At the time, DVD had just replaced VHS as the new format and I transferred my copy of Crimewave to DVD and made my own case for it to sit on my shelf. I figured I’d never see the film get a proper release and I’m rather happy that Shout! Factory has proved me wrong. It’d be easy to let a movie like Crimewave fall into obscurity and I applaud Shout! for seeking out the title and giving fans a chance to own and see the film in high-definition. There aren’t any special features announced for the release yet but here’s hoping there will be some and that we get to see some interviews and discussion on the troubled production of the film. You can pre-order the Crimewave Blu-ray/DVD combo pack over at Shout! Factory. Come May 14, the Crimewave Blu-ray will be mine. I can’t wait.
In addition to Crimewave, Shout! Factory has three other notable releases slated for May. The Burning (1980), Captain America (1990) and The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) will all be released on May 21.
by Ben McBride