As Sam Raimi is about to embark on the most decidedly commercial minded film of his whole three decade career with his Tim Burton/Alice in Wonderland-esque Wizard of Oz re-imagining The Great and Powerful Oz, the sad truth is that there’s very little for us die-hard fans of the director to get excited about right now.
Does anyone really want to see a film that ruins the mystery of the great man behind the Oz curtain by revealing all his secrets in this origin flick? No. The power is in the not knowing, and by re-touching & trying to improve upon a film that is so ingrained into the pop culture psyche of every man, woman and child in the Western world and beyond, well it’s a fruitless & completely pointless task, creatively speaking anyway.
Never in his career has Raimi been a sell out director but after years of fighting studio battles, many of them fought over the projects that are chronicled in this article below, from the outside looking in it just looks like he has seemingly given up and said yes to a studio package that will require very little creative artistry or endeavor from him. He will just need to put the camera in front of James Franco (or whomever it is they eventually settle on), add a bunch of overblown CGI and weird, kooky costumed characters and hey presto! There’s a billion dollar movie.
Although this article might sound reminiscent of the ‘let’s look at what you could have won’ ending to the losers on Jim Bowen’s Bullseye game-show, it’s not quite that. If Raimi does manage to make $1 billion with Oz, then surely it will give him the freedom and the studio backing to make at least two of the following dreams a reality. And that’ll be worth sitting though a yellow brick road rather than a bloody one…
Let’s get the most obvious choice over with. Right now, if Sony hadn’t gotten so God damned greedy about the paychecks which Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire were getting for the film franchise they created a decade ago, we would have been just a few months away from seeing the release of a proper Spider-Man 4. The movie would have been hitting this May, it would have been a continuation of the previous franchise and it would have found John Malkovich as The Vulture and Anne Hathaway as The Vulturess (basically a Black Cat-type character, who would be the daughter of Malkovich).
This would have been the Spider-Man moved that Raimi wanted to direct last time around but Marvel forced Venom upon him. I’m 100% convinced his fourth movie would have been awesome. Raimi was planning something special, something that would erase the sour taste of the finale to the previous trilogy and it would have been something much closer to his awesome Spider-Man 2, still for me one of the greatest comic book films of all time.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to the new Spider-Man movie that Sony are putting together, more so than I ever thought I would be. With Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, they have two terrific young talents who both had a great 2010 and I love the thought of Rhys Ifans as The Lizard and especially Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben but – no J.K. Simmons, Rosemary Harris, no typical Bruce Campbell cameo?
The reality that we have probably seen the last Sam Raimi directed Spider-Man movie?
Well that sucks.
The Evil Dead 4
Whilst I shiver at the thought of the Evil Dead remake that is supposedly in the early stages of development right now with a script reportedly already in place and just awaiting the greenlight, a couple of years ago the future of the franchise was looking much brighter.
Around 2007, Sam Raimi was considering directing Bruce Campbell as Ash in a continuation of the franchise right with an Evil Dead 4, and well wouldn’t that be something to behold.
Raimi showed with his spook-a-blast Drag Me To Hell that he is capable of delivering a balls-to-the-wall, raw, spooky, fun and weird horror movie that’s as fresh as the movies he was making three decades ago and the thought of what he could do now with a substantial budget just blows my mind.
I’m not sure we will see another Raimi/Campbell Evil Dead film now, I think that ship sailed two or three years ago, but I’d sure love to see it. And if Raimi has to direct a commercial popcorn flick to get that film made then the journey will be worth it.
Drag Her Out Of Hell
It’s probably not going to happen because Lionsgate really dropped the ball in marketing this 2009 horror gem and not enough of you lazy Internet living film buffs got off your lazy ass to see it, but a sequel to Drag Me To Hell (which I’m titling Drag Her Out of Hell) would – at least in my own imagination – find Justin Long, with the help of the tarot card reading Dileep Rao, plunging to the depths of the underworld to bring Alison Lohman back to Earth after she was sucked into the vortex at the end credits of the last movie.
There would have to be a part for The Devil, obviously, and a return for the ridiculously creepy Gypsy woman Mrs. Ganush from the first movie who unmistakeably would now reside in hell and who isn’t interested in seeing what Raimi’s vision of the fiery afterlife looks like? I know I do.
Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men?
Although Sam Raimi has now pretty much given up the directing reigns on the Street & Smiths pulp hero The Shadow (last we heard he had pushed it to David Slade and 20th Century Fox), he has reportedly stayed on as a creative consultant and producer. He just loves the character. Hell, he’s already kind of made his own version of the universe with Darkman in the early 90′s but for the post-Spider-Man Raimi, a more mature director who now understands fully how to immerse a comic book character into a workable setting, there’s so much to this material that is in his wheelhouse.
My choice would be Mark Strong to lead.
A few years ago when it sounded like Sony were serious about giving Ghostbusters another run at the big time, my thoughts immediately went to Sam Raimi as a potential director for the big-budget action/comedy/horror franchise. I actually did a little bit of campaigning and I think the rest of the Internet picked up on the idea and liked the direction I was proposing.
Raimi would bring a deeper edge to the series, a more legitimately spooky back-bone with bigger, more elaborate set pieces, an effectively creepy atmospheric and more fluid state of dread that would be well suited to what we know of the series. The humour of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the directing sensibilities of Raimi, seemed on paper to be a good match.
Of course The Evil Dead franchise should be evidence enough of Raimi’s perfect fit for this but I’m telling ya, with Drag Me To Hell, especially towards the second act (the set piece with the sacrificing of the goat in particular felt GB-esque), he’s got the CV for Ghostbusters.
The Day of the Triffids
John Wyndham’s ambitious story about a meteor shower that not only births giant, man-eating and fast moving viscous plants, but also leaves 99% of the world’s population blind, at this point, looks likely to be Sam Raimi’s next directing vehicle after the Oz prequel.
The movie became a go project this summer when Mandate Pictures won the bidding war for the rights to the novel specifically for Raimi to helm and if he can recapture the high-energy and the magic of his best horror films then he can turn Triffids into something sickening, absurd and entertaining. We would be the first in line to see it!
Red Dead Redemption
So this one hasn’t been a rumoured project for Raimi and with Rockstar’s reluctance to sell the film rights to their games to any studio, it’s unlikely anyone will be taking a stab at the incredible gun-slinging game Red Dead Redemption anytime soon…. BUT…. if a deal could ever be struck, Raimi would make a hell of a movie.
Have you played Read Dead Redemption yet? It’s incredibly cinematic but with a morally suspect character that would free filmmakers to turn the game into anything they desired. Just like a Grand Theft Auto movie if Hollywood ever got around to it – they could pretty much make it into any kind of genre piece they wanted. Raimi has directed a Western before with The Quick and the Dead, itself a clear homage to Sergio Leone’s Once Upon A Time in The West but with a bigger budget and a license to dream bigger, he could create such a bad-ass movie here.
Radical Studios three issue comic series Earp basically re-tells the famous Wyatt Earp legend — the Gunfight at OK Coral, Doc. Holliday, Virgil and all that — but setting it in a futuristic, ‘ravaged society’ Los Angeles – where the economy has dipped so much that people shoot each other over a loaf of bread.
A film version of the comic was setup at Dreamworks earlier this year for Sam Raimi to direct. Again, what we would give to see him making this instead of Oz.
The idea of Sam Raimi directing a new version of The Stand was actually drafted on this list sometime before last week’s annoucnement that Warner Bros were looking to adapt Stephen King’s 1,100 word signature tome for the big screen.
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel where a plague nicknamed Captain Trips has caused mass devastation to the planet, wiping out almost everyone. The novel focuses on the rag-tag group of survivors who share dreams of a mysterious evil being and they team-up, forming a community, to try and rid them of it.
The novel is rich with awesome imagery, characters and the scope for an imaginative director like Raimi to be let loose with and produce astonishing results. WB would be wise to hear Raimi’s pitch for this.
World of Warcraft
I don’t know ANYTHING about World of Warcraft except what my friends tell me, and they tell me only exciting things. The series deals with monsters, magic & all other kinds of Tolkien-esque wonder, right? And it’s the freeing kind of landscape that would allow Raimi to create a wide-scoping trilogy that is unlike anything we’ve seen in years.
Robert Rodat of Saving Private Ryan fame is currently putting together the screenplay and Raimi told Collider last year how excited he was to be attached to such a project;
“I love the visual world that the guys over at Blizzard have created. It’s incredibly, engrossingly terrifying and exciting. And I like the use of scale, the giant monsters they have, I love the different landscapes your character can move through. I like the first person interaction you have with other players online. There’s so many aspects about the game I really enjoy, like the battles, like performing spells and learning new spells and getting to the next level like everyone else.”
It’s a risky movie for Legendary Pictures, one that would need hundreds of millions of dollars to adapt faithfully, so if Raimi needs to prove his worth with a $1 billion dollar Wizard of Oz series, then so be it. World of Warcraft will be all more sweeter when it finally happens.
SOUND OFF: What did you think of my list of ten movies we’d rather Sam Raimi was making than Spider-Man 4? Do leave your comments and tell us which film you hope he will direct the soonest.
This article was first posted on February 9, 2011