Horror legend Sam Raimi brought the genre to the MCU in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but the film’s success, as demonstrated by its IMDb rating, serves as a reminder of his multi-genre directorial skills. From The Hudsucker Proxy to the Evil Dead series, his versatility seemingly knows no bounds.
And Doctor Strange is not Raimi’s first superhero movie, having directed the Spider-Man trilogy and Darkman. He’s directed across the fantasy, comedy, crime, and romance genres, showingcasing his own multiverse of stories.
10 Crimewave – 5.6
Although 1985’s Crimewave is considered part of the comedy-horror subgenre, it stands out for its unusual mix of film noir, black comedy, and b-movie conventions. This style influenced later productions by Raimi, despite the initial negative reception, it has gone on to achieve cult status.
The film opens with Victor Ajax (Reed Birney) sitting in an electric chair awaiting his death sentence, with the story of how he wound up in this situation told through a flashback sequence.
9 It’s Murder! – 5.8
This 70-minute movie, co-written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, was filmed during the former’s college days. The duo also stars in the film, with Raimi portraying the villainous son of a murdered man who receives everything in his will, and Spiegel, the detective trying to solve the mystery without becoming a victim himself.
One IMDb user review declares the film “one of the greatest Raimi shorts,” credited to the hilarious performances by Raimi, Spiegel, and Bruce Campbell.
8 Spider-Man 3 – 6.2
The third installation of Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is also the most criticized. This is in part due to studio demands that Raimi allegedy tried to protest (such as the inclusion of Venom) and the tonal divergence from its predecessors.
Raimi recently came out in defense of Spider-Man 3‘s cringe-worthy dance sequence that has since become a viral meme. He states that the scene was supposed to be funny, as it “was Peter Parker’s version — this lame kid — of what it must be like to admit his evil self,” buts that he isn’t surprised that it didn’t land with viewers at the time of the film’s release.
7 Oz The Great and Powerful – 6.3
The events of Oz the Great and Powerful take place 20 years before those in the original 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum. The plot follows the magician Oscar Diggs (James Franko), also known as The Wizard of Oz, and his encounter with three witches as he attempts to restore order in Oz.
Although it is criticized as a simplistic origin story, it is deemed entertaining for its visual dazzle, clever wit, and bewitching performances from its all-star cast, particularly Mila Kunis as Theodora, for which she won the Best Villain award at the MTV Movie Awards in 2014.
6 Darkman – 6.4
Darkman was borne of Raimi’s inability to secure the rights to The Shadow and Batman, prompting him to conjure his own dark superhero. The resulting super-human was based on a short story that Raimi wrote in homage to 1930s horror films.
Liam Neeson portrays Peyton Westlake, a scientist who, after being attacked and left for dead, resurfaces from his coma with super abilities and a need for vengeance. The film is praised for its gothic appeal and cheerful violence.
5 For Love Of The Game – 6.6
Based on the Michael Shaara novel of the same name, For Love of the Game is a sports drama interlaced with romantic themes. It follows Billy Chapel (Kevin Costner), an aging baseball pitcher during his final outing, as he reminisces about his relationship with Jane Aubrey (Kelly Preston).
The film received mixed reviews from critics, with Roger Ebert calling it a “step back backward for director Sam Raimi after A Simple Plan,” but its respectable IMDb rating suggests that viewers feel otherwise.
4 Spider-Man – 7.4
The much-loved retelling of the Spider-Man origin story is considered to have kickstarted the current superhero phenomenon that is still dominating popular culture. In it, Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker comes to grips with his new web-slinging superpowers whilst simultaneously navigating teenage life.
The film’s success has been credited to the combined charm of Raimi and Maguire, with many considering the latter to be one of the best actors to play Peter Parker.
3 Spider-Man 2 – 7.4
Set two years after the events in Spider-Manits sequel sees Peter Parker take on Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) whilst struggling to find a balance between his personal and superhero personas.
The film is on par with its predecessor in terms of its IMDb rating, but it is generally agreed by critics and fans alike that it improves on the first in almost every way. Indeed, there is a natural sense of maturity that develops as the actors grow into their characters, coupled with a well-written, compelling villain and Raimi’s trademark direction, leading many to deem the film one of the best superhero movies of all time.
2 A Simple Plan – 7.5
Another novel adaptation from Raimi’s portfolio is the neo-noir crime thriller A Simple Plan, based on the book by Scott B. Smith. It is a tale of distrust and deceit, following an unsuspecting group of people who stumble upon a plane wreck and $4.4 million in cash.
The film is highly reputed by critics and viewers alike. It is praised for its Midwestern Gothic aesthetic, sorrowful cast performances, and Raimi’s excellent execution of its violent themes, with Ebert having declared it the fourth best film of 1998.
1 Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – 7.5
Raimi’s take on Doctor Strange has naturally divided opinion, as all MCU installations do. Some viewers believe the director’s trademark style to be appropriate for a franchise with young viewers, while others regard it as a refreshing change of pace that introduces new audiences to horror elements.
The film features traditional horror tropes such as witchcraft, zombies, and haunted houses and utilizes techniques including jump scares, gothic visuals, and body horror. The Bruce Campbell cameo is the ultimate seal of a Sam Raimi film, with the legendary playing Pizza Poppa, whom Strange curses to repeatedly hit actor himself.
Next: 10 Sam Raimi Movies That Nearly Happened
10 Ways Doctor Strange Has Become The MCU’s New Iron Man
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