Blu-ray: Crimewave (1985)
Directed by Sam Raimi (who also shares writing credits with Joel and Ethan Coen), and featuring Bruce Campbell, Brion James, Louise Lasser, Paul L. Smith, Antonio Fargas and many other of my favourite actors of that time period, you’d think that Crimewave would be one of my “go to” movies of the past 36 years.
However, from my first viewing on VHS many years ago, this whacky and surreal comedy/crime/horror story never sat comfortably with me, and even on this high definition remaster from Powerhouse Films, it once again failed to win me over as a fan.
Raimi’s film tells the bizarre story of a security-system installer, Vic (Reed Birney), who finds himself in the electric chair when he falls in love with Nancy (Sheree J. Wilson), a femme fatale on the run from two bumbling exterminators ‘of all sizes’ (Paul L Smith and Brion James).
Cue a series of bizarre and over the top scenes where Raimi’s love of The Three Stooges is apparent for all to see, with Bruce Campbell and the rest of the cast hamming it up to the extreme.
Crimewave is an ‘in your face’ experience from beginning to end. It’s lurid colour scheme, the exaggerated acting, and the kinetic camera moves leave little room for any subtly throughout its short 82 minute running time (though this release gives you the option of viewing 4 different versions of the movie).
I much preferred the informative and entertaining special features to the movie itself, especially the 2 commentary tracks which give a great insight into the troubled production and the experience of being on set at the time.
If you like whacky Three Stooges-esque humour and a completely over the top experience, then Crimewave will most definitely entertain. It is still all a bit too much for me to sit back and enjoy, though the special features did keep me highly entertained.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- High Definition remaster
- Four feature presentations: the 87-minute international version with a selection of three alternative titles (Broken Hearts and Noses, The XYZ Murders, and Crimewave); and the 82-minute US theatrical cut
- Original mono audio
- Audio commentary with actor-producer Bruce Campbell and filmmaker Michael Felsher (2013)
- Audio commentary with Sam Raimi expert James Flower (2021)
- The Crimewave Meter (2013, 16 mins): Bruce Campbell revisits his early collaborations with writer-director Raimi
- Leading Man (2013, 16 mins): actor Reed Birney talks about Crimewave and his wider career
- Made in Detroit (2013, 9 mins): producer-actor Edward R Pressman discusses the making of the film
- Rank Outsider (2021, 10 mins): critic and author Kim Newman remembers the original UK release
- Too Much for Comfort (2021, 8 mins): appreciation by comedian, musician and writer Rob Deering
- On-set footage (1983, 12 mins): rare behind-the-scenes material from Reed Birney’s personal archive
- Promotional reel (1984, 14 mins): previously unseen digest version with unique voice-over, intended for industry use
- US theatrical trailer
- US home video trailer
- French theatrical trailer
- Image galleries: promotional materials and behind-the-scenes photography
- The XYZ Murders script gallery: complete pre-production screenplay
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Amanda Reyes, selected extracts from Bruce Campbell’s If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, a guide to the differences between the script and the finished film by James Flower, extracts from retrospective interviews with cast and crew, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 3,000 copies
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.