Sam Raimi © Universal Pictures

In 1982 Sam Raimi wrote and directed Evil Dead, which immediately rose to cult status. After spending the better part of the last decade bringing the Spider-Man trilogy to the screen, he has gone back to the Horror genre that brought him such acclaim with Drag Me to Hell, blending his trademark combination of shocking spectacle and dark humor.

In the movie Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, an ambitious loan officer who, in an attempt to impress her boss and get a promotion refuses an old lady, Mrs Ganush, an extension on her loan. In retaliation, she places a curse on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell.

After doing the Spider-Man films, is it hard to go back to a smaller film like this? Did you envision bigger special effects that you couldn’t do?

Sam Raimi © Universal Pictures
Sam Raimi © Universal Pictures

Absolutely, yeah. I was used to having a very healthy budget, and I could do anything I wanted in those Spider-Man films with the visual effects and the size of the set that I needed to build to get a particular shot. When we were shooting this, I remember that oftentimes my assistant director would come to me and say, “Sam, you’ve got seven or eight shots here, and you’ve got an hour left of daylight, so what are you going to do?” I’d say, “Don’t worry, we’ll come back tomorrow and get it,” and he said, “We’re not coming back tomorrow. You’re never coming back here. You’re going to have to finish in one hour.” And so, I was reminded as to the conditions that most film-makers work under, which is to just keep it a little tighter and cut down that coverage. But, it was invigorating because I was confronted with the question, “What is the core of this scene, anyways? What are the basics?” And, I was reminded that the basics are the actors and the story they’re telling, and I can probably get what I need with one close-up of my actors.

You manage to draw on your vast knowledge of classic Horror without ripping it off. Can you comment on that?

Horror opening
Horror opening

I love great, old, classic Horror films. For this film, I was inspired by Curse of the Demon, which is a lesser known film. That was great! I tried to take everything I knew, not just from the Horror films that I had made, but also from the dramas that I had made, and all that the actors had taught me, and tried to put it all to work in this spooky story.

What was it about Alison Lohman that made you want to cast her in this film?

Alison Lohman © Universal Pictures
Alison Lohman © Universal Pictures

She was put on a list for me to consider and when I saw her name I jumped at the chance to try to convince her to take the role. I loved her performance so much in Matchstick Men, where she played the con-woman. She was strikingly original in that. She’s real and she can earn your sympathies, and I needed a certain amount of manipulation of the audience for this because she’s actually a bad girl who does some terrible things, but who I want the audience, at first, to like

Have you given any thought to doing a sequel for this film?

It’s always possible that they can make a sequel, but I don’t have any plans for one.

Having recharged your batteries on this film, do you feel like you’ll be carrying something into Spider-Man 4 that you wouldn’t have otherwise?

Yes. I think I was humbled and I learned about the basics again, like I did as a young film-maker, and I’m excited to bring that clarity to the next Spider-Man story.

Are you working on that now?

The writer, David Lindsay-Abaire, a New York playwright, is in New York, supposedly writing the script. Can I use your phone to check?

How overwhelming is it to do another film when the first three have been so successful?

I’m hoping people like the new one, but I haven’t read the script yet.

Is everybody contracted to come back for another film?

I know Tobey Maguire is in it. And, at least in discussions about the story, I’ve asked that Kirsten Dunst be in it. But, I have to read it to tell you everything.

What’s going on with Evil Dead 4?

Right now, I don’t have anything new to say about Evil Dead 4. In the past, I’ve talked about it, but I honestly haven’t been working on it in the last year. I’ve just been racing to finish Drag Me to Hell.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.