Crimewave is a strange film indeed, a mildly humorous comedy from 1986. I had never heard of this film until recently and upon discovering it was directed by Sam Raimi, written by the Coen Brothers and Raimi and had Bruce Campbell in it I knew I had to see it. Sadly it proved to be a pretty disappointing movie.


The hero of the film is Vic and we open with him in the electric chair about to be executed; desperate to save himself he begins to tell his tale of woe. We flashback to find he worked for the Odegard-Tread Security Company and Tread hired a pair of freakish exterminators to get rid of his partner. They get the wrong guy and while chasing a witness get mixed up with Vic in his quest to get laid with the prim Nancy who happens to live across the hall from the witness.

This is really hammy stuff with silly voices and over the top performances all around. The plot frequently goes missing and there are several bizarre twists and scenes. The hitmen embark on a killing spree while Vic attempts to woo Nancy and the whole mess builds to a really long car chase scene with a fistfight on the roof of a speeding van.

The promise of Raimi as a director is apparent in some of the techniques employed but this was only his second film after Evil Dead. While this isn´t great there are glimpses of the director he will become - for example the murder scene in the security company office reminded me of Dr Octopus escaping from the hospital in Spiderman 2.


The writing is also disappointing; few of the gags work all that well although the Coen Brothers flair for writing characters does shine through. Renaldo the Heel played by Bruce Campbell was by far my favourite, Campbell was set to play the lead in this movie, which would have improved it no end but Raimi didn´t get his way. Even in his small part Campbell is the most memorable character in the film and provides one of the best performances along with the two insane exterminators played by Brion James and Paul L Smith. The rest of the cast are really quite poor especially Reed Birney who plays the lead role Vic.

Crimewave was heavily cut during the post-production process and a wacky score was added by the studio. Needless to say it was not a box office success and both Raimi and the Coen Brothers seem happy to forget this exists. It runs at a mercifully short 78 minutes but it does manage to feel a lot longer than that. This isn´t a great film or even a good film but it is interesting as a curiosity for fans of the Coens, Raimi or Campbell.

Reviewed by Simon Hill

Return to Top