starring Louise Lasser, Paul L. Smith, Brion James, Reed Birney
screenplay by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen & Sam Raimi
directed by Sam Raimi
by Walter Chaw Sam Raimi's sophomore picture Crimewave is a nightmare, a mess, a calamity of rare scope but also one possessed of a singular, maybe misguided but definitely committed, vision. It wants very badly to be a feature-length Three Stooges sketch or Warner Bros. cartoon (one of the early Tex Averys), and so the thing it most resembles is Joe Dante's segment of The Twilight Zone: The Movie, stretched to a truly sadistic length (a deceptively scant-sounding 83 minutes) and thrown together by misadventure, studio interference, and a lot of talented people who didn't know what they didn't know. It's so consistently and dedicatedly cross-eyed badger spit, in fact, that it eventually takes on the surreality of a Max Ernst gallery, or an acid trip in a travelling funhouse. It's deeply unpleasant, even as fans of Raimi and the Coen Brothers (who co-wrote the screenplay with Raimi) busily trainspot all the auteur signatures in double time. What Crimewave represents is that peculiar artifact of a film that should have ended careers instead getting "lost" by a bumfuddled, betrayed studio for long enough to allow Evil Dead II and Blood Simple the opportunity to cement reputations before this one could bury them.