A look back at this day in film history
October 23
Sam Raimi October 23, 1959
Sam Raimi born

For the multiplex crowd, director Sam Raimi – who today celebrates his 51st birthday – is known first and foremost as the director of the Spider-Man movies, a franchise that has grossed close to $1.5 billion worldwide. However, before becoming the helmer of an unthinkably lucrative trilogy of blockbusters, Raimi – just like Peter Jackson – was a darling of the low-budget horror scene. Indeed, pre-Spidey, his reputation was built on the success of another trilogy. In 1981, Raimi made the self-financed horror film, The Evil Dead, which starred his childhood friend and cinematic co-conspirator Bruce Campbell as Ash, an unfortunate young man who has to battle demons – and his demonically possessed friends – after they are unleashed in the woods of Tennessee. The film’s crowd-pleasing mix of horror and dark comedy won it a cult following, and Raimi brought Campbell’s plucky survivor Ash back for the sequels Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1993). Though down-and-dirty old school horror is what launched him as a filmmaker, he’s shown considerable versatility over the course of his career. His second film, Crime Wave (1985), was a retro crime romp that felt like a live action cartoon, he showed his love of the comic book genre with Darkman (1990), and in 1995 he made the highly entertaining revisionist Western The Quick and the Dead, starring Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Gene Hackman. The slow-burning crime drama A Simple Man (1998) demonstrated Raimi’s enormous skill as a storyteller and a creator of great characters, and he surprised everyone by following it up with the Kevin Costner baseball drama For Love of the Game (1999). Now that he’s handed Spider-Man on to a new director, Raimi has gone back to his roots. In 2009, he made the fantastically fun Drag Me To Hell, which had the feel of a 1930s Universal horror movie, and which Raimi described as a “horror film with lots of wild moments and lots of suspense and big shocks that’ll hopefully make audiences jump … [but with] a lot of dark humor sprinkled throughout.”

More Flashbacks
October 23, 1979
Monty Python’s Life of Brian banned by Strom Thurmond

Did you ever hear the one about the turncoat South Carolina Senator and the edgy Biblical comedy?

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October 23, 1992
Tarantino Lets the Dogs Out

QT’s debut referenced great heist movies of the past but now stands as a classic in its own right.

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