Were you shocked by how genuinely great the first two Spider-Man films were? Are you willing to ignore a brief, eyeliner-fueled Spider-Emo misstep? Wondering what else Sam Raimi has done besides write Duke Nukem’s lines for him? Read on.
Raimi loved the old radio character The Shadow so much (and missed out on his first chance to direct an adaptation, though he’s working on a second one) that he decided to invent his own Shadow-esque superhero. Darkman stars Liam Neeson (!) as Dr. Peyton Westlake, brilliant scientist left for dead by a crime lord’s thugs. He loses his sanity and his face, but gains superhuman strength and a use for masks that dissolve 99 minutes after being exposed to light. Darkman has its flaws but is definitely worth seeing, if only for Neeson’s intense performance.
The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Maybe the weakest movie of Raimi’s career (or it was until Spider-Man 3, anyway), The Quick and the Dead is still a fun pop-culture Western featuring many of his action hallmarks. Gene Hackman stars as evil gunfighter John Herod, who’s enslaved a town with his peerless quickdraw. Sharon Stone is a woman out for revenge on Herod, a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio plays a cocky young gunslinger, and Russell Crowe (at the time unknown to American audiences) appears as a former thug turned preacher who has the fastest gun of them all. Lance Henrikson has a small role as a boastful blowhard, and Keith David shows up as a gun-for-hire. What more can you ask for?
Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Take a nostalgic trip down memory lane as Raimi writes a love letter to Evil Dead fans. An old woman curses a loan clerk for repossessing her house, and sics a demon on her unsympathetic ass. We get blood, gore and demons galore in Drag Me to Hell, with plenty of the dark slapstick humor Raimi’s famous for. Justin Long isn’t a smug, unlikeable douche in this movie! Definitely a must-see for horror fans.