Five Favorite Films

Favorite Films with Drag Me to Hell's Sam Raimi

What's on the Spider-Man director's mind as he revisits his horror roots?

by | May 28, 2009 | Comments

Sam Raimi
American filmmakers who cut their teeth on the underground horror circuit have
shown the staying power and bold versatility as
Sam Raimi
has. The director’s output during his first two career decades — beginning
with The Evil Dead
trilogy and Darkman,
then transitioning to more serious work like
A Simple Plan
For Love of
the Game
— always kept him just outside of the mainstream, earning him reverential cult worship from a steady base of fans. But starting
earlier this decade, Raimi positioned himself in the frontline of the fanboy
cinema revolution, submitting his

trilogy to the public at large, who’ve responded with $1 billion in ticket
sales in America alone.

This Friday, Raimi steps out of the Marvel trenches and returns to horror with
Drag Me to Hell,
which stars
Alison Lohman
as a meek loan officer whose comfortable life gets turned
upside down after she becomes cursed by a gypsy. The film has drawn spectacular
reviews and is one the most critically acclaimed scary flicks in years. As Raimi
revisits his horror roots, Rotten Tomatoes asked him to do likewise for our Five Favorite Films feature. (Obviously, we usually get a list of five, but Raimi had time for just three.)


The Treasure of the
Sierra Madre
100% Tomatometer)

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
of my favorite films is The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which
John Huston
directed. Tim Holt,
Humphrey Bogart and
Walter Huston. I love how it’s a story
of friendship and how the greed corrupts that friendship and destroys it. But,
by the end, there’s some coming out of it, some healing by the Tim Holt

It’s interesting that you mention that film because it immediately makes me
mindful of A Simple Plan.

Yes, I don’t know if [Simple Plan author] Scott Smith was influenced by
Treasure of the Sierra Madre,
but maybe. Certainly, there’s that same desperation and greed that sneaks into
the family and absolutely destroys them. Destroys them utterly. They’re both
stories of greed and the damage it does.

The Big Lebowski (1998,
77% Tomatometer)

The Big Lebowski
Coen Brothers have a few of my favorites. What’s the one in Hollywood with the
Dude? I think that’s one of my favorites. It took me so by surprise. And I’m not
sure whether it’s for personal reasons or simply that the film is so
hysterically funny, but they’re just such brilliant — what’s the word for
someone who observes? — sponges of dialect and people and character and the way
that people sound and what’s so absurd about everything. It’s just one of the
funniest movies I’ve ever seen. So many great moments, so brilliant. I love
their sense of humor and their filmmaking style. And
Mr. Bridges‘s performance is
incredibly great.

Psycho (1960, 97% Tomatometer)

Another one would be
Alfred Hitchcock‘s
Psycho. I’ve always been a fan of Hitchcock, and I love his shorthand. He’s a
masterful storyteller and one of the reasons, to me, is how well he understands
the language of film and how little he has to do to communicate an idea. Also, I
love his great respect for the audience. He knows he can give them so little and
that they can put together so much. I’m very impressed with that. And his great,
brilliant sense of humor. I love how funny he is. He must have been the funniest
actor in Hollywood in the late 50’s and early 60’s. When I see his cameos and
his most incredibly, hysterically droll performances in Alfred Hitchcock
, there’s nobody I can think of who would have been funnier.

Catch Sam Raimi’s
Drag Me to Hell
theaters this Friday. For more Five Favorite Films, visit our archive.

Chris Monfette contributed to this article.