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Sam Raimi’s 7 Most Underrated Movies

Sam Raimi’s 7 Most Underrated Movies


American producer Sam Raimi is one of the biggest names in Hollywood history thanks to two popular properties: evil Dead And Spider Man. Of course, he has other highly profitable projects under his belt, such as Oz the Great and Mighty (2013) and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022). But Raimi is best remembered by moviegoers for the aforementioned franchises, even to this day.

Many of his projects have gone unnoticed over the years, whether in the minds of critics or through the eyes of fans. Critics have never been a target audience for Raimi, and unless they’re in the superhero genre, his projects tend to perform modestly at the global box office. Thus, a given project may either be underrated for Raimi due to its lack of name value or unfair hate from critics. This list makes Raimi one of the most underrated creators in the film industry because they’re all high-quality projects — and three have even been released in consecutive years. That said, these are seven underrated Sam Raimi films, ranked.



7 Army of Darkness (1992)

Bruce Campbell Army of Darkness 1993
Universal images

start things up, army of darkness (1992) of course closes the evil Dead franchise as fan-favorite protagonist Ash Williams finds himself trapped in medieval times at the time of King Arthur. And for those unfamiliar with its plot: Ash must fight his way through undead forces to force his way back to the present.

With a shotgun in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, Ash does just that. The result is a fantastically stylistic horror game that failed to double its $11 million budget when it came to ticket sales. More, army of darkness wasn’t exactly popular with industry pundits, as it sits with a 69% approval rating on review consensus website Rotten Tomatoes. Sure, it has decent name value today thanks to the franchise’s cult following. But given the notoriety of the two previous evil Dead entries, there is no doubt about it at the end: army of darkness is one of Raimi’s most underrated films to date.

6 Crimewave (1985)

Bruce Campbell in Crimewave
Pictures of Colombia

With a visual stylistic approach and a sound design full of vigor and vigor, Crime wave (1985) immediately turns out to be less of a crime drama than a comedy. But Raimi always had a penchant for humor – especially in the decade to come, when he released both evil Dead (nineteen eighty one) and Evil Dead 2 (1987) throughout the 1980s. This is perhaps the least known of the group, perhaps from his own filmography, which is to some extent understandable given its absurd tone. But it’s more entertaining than critics (and some fans) may have let on over the years.

There are some notable names with Crime wave: Bruce Campbell, a frequent collaborator of Raimi who appears among his supporting actors, alongside Joel and Ethan Coen. The Coen brothers lent their screenwriting talents to the project, with Raimi also credited in that department. And all together, these creative forces have coalesced to bring fans one of Raimi’s most underrated projects in Crime wave.

5 A Simple Plan (1998)

A Simple Plan 1998
Paramount Pictures

Written by Scott B. Smith – who also wrote the original 1993 novel of the same name – this neo-noir crime thriller chronicles three blue-collar workers (played by Bill Paxton, Billy Bob Thornton and Brent Briscoe) who run into million dollars in cash. A simple map (1998) garnered great reviews from critics upon release, but it dropped half a million dollars to world box office recover its $17 million budget. Plus, it doesn’t have much name value today.

That’s despite Smith’s very solid screenwriting efforts, earning a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination for the Oscars. Thornton also received a nod for Best Supporting Actor, but they both fell short in the end. The other story to note about A simple map, however, would be his experience in development hell. Filmmaker Mike Nichols was once hired to direct the film, in fact, along with others like Ben Stiller and John Dahl. In the end, the project went to the right person, as seen by Sam Raimi A simple map in flawless execution. His efforts should be better remembered.

4 For the Love of the Game (1999)

Kevin Costner in For the Love of the Game
Universal images

Even before this project, Raimi was no stranger to genre films. In that same decade, he had made a superhero movie, a horror movie, a western, a neo-noir crime thriller, and then this: a sports movie starring Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly and JK Simmons. It’s quite varied, and he was more than up for the challenge of tackling disparate genres. As Costner protagonist Billy Chapel mentally prepares to kick off his final game at Yankee Stadium, For the love of the game (1999) obviously revolves around baseball. Reilly plays catcher, while Simmons comes in as coach.

And while the project received criticism for its romantic subplot, Preston’s character Jane brings an entertaining dynamic as Billy’s love interest. Costner’s Razzie nomination for Worst Actor seems rather unwarranted in hindsight — by no means Oscar-worthy, but far from the worst performance that year. The movie as a whole features some interesting baseball field scenes thanks to its brilliant editing, and while sports movies aren’t usually your thing, the quality of this one might very well surprise you.

3 Black Man (1990)

Liam Neeson in Darkman
Universal images

Before running Sony Spider-Man Trilogy throughout the 2000s, Sam Raimi made an original superhero film in dark man (1990). Several years prior, he had expressed an interest in directing a Batman movie, although that particular property ended up being directed by Tim Burton. It’s a good thing too – both directors ended up with the right projects under their respective belts.

As for Raimi: it features Liam Neeson as a scientist who, after sustaining severe injuries at the hands of a mob boss, develops superhuman abilities when treatment for his burns fails. He then seeks revenge on those who disfigured his face, and simultaneously balances a relationship with his girlfriend: Julie Hastings – played by Frances McDormand – who started it all by confronting the aforementioned mob boss. At the end, dark man should be considered among most underrated superhero movies ever made, no matter who led the respective projects. This one is well-written by Raimi, well-filmed by cinematographer Bill Pope, and well-acted by everyone involved. Definitely check it out, if you haven’t.

Related: Darkman: A look back at Sam Raimi’s first superhero film

2 The Gift (2000)

Sam Raimi's Gift
Primordial Classics

A psychological thriller starring Cate Blanchett, Keanu Reeves, Giovanni Ribisi and Katie Holmes, it’s unclear what happened with Gift (2000). A fan-favorite genre with a star-studded cast – all Sam Raimi needed to succeed was a well-written script. And, of course, there are questionable character motivations and a slight reliance on suspension of disbelief. But ultimately, the plot of Gift was far more learned and thrilling than the film’s success numbers would suggest.

It follows a widow named Annie Wilson who makes a living as a clairvoyant fortune teller. But one day, she must use her gifts to help in a dire situation, as she gains knowledge of a murder case through her previously discussed ESP ability. It’s a supernatural thriller, so the suspension of disbelief goes hand in hand with its premise. And in that regard, everyone here played convincingly, with many other qualitative elements of cinema on top of that. Its cinematic value and crucial color palettes helped make it a vastly underrated project by Raimi.

1 The Living and the Dead (1995)

Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Sony Pictures release

The 90s were a big time for westerns. unforgiven (1992), tomb stone (1993) Fall Legends (1994), Desperado (1995), and this: Dead or alive (1995) by Sam Raimi. It features great acting efforts from every member of its main cast – Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. And their respective characters stand out with their own quirks and personal developments as Stone’s protagonist “The Lady” enters a shooting contest in the city of Redemption to execute a revenge plot against the man who killed her father: John Herod, played by Hackman.

And in addition to their remarkable performances, there is also endless camera work in Dead or alive, especially during his one-on-one shootouts. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti makes good use of some really stylistic shots, like when Hackman’s character kills the hired gunman early in the film. A shot value like this should speak for itself. But Simon Moore’s script is also witty, and Raimi was the perfect guy to see it come to fruition. Critics weren’t enthusiastic about the project, and it barely recouped its $35 million budget when it came to ticket sales. Also, it’s almost never mentioned these days among modern westerns, and that undoubtedly needs to change.

Related: Best Westerns of the 1990s, Ranked