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Sam Raimi’s best films, ranked by Rotten Tomatoes

It’s been almost a decade since Sam Raimi released a new movie and two decades since he helped to spur the current superhero craze with Spider-Man. Raimi is one of America’s great living directors, and he’s also an insane visual stylist. Now, Raimi has returned with Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It remains to be seen whether Raimi can integrate his own style within the confines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

For now, though, it’s time to look back at the director’s long career through the lens of how each of his movies was received critically. These are Raimi’s best films, ranked by their scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

For Love of the Game (1999) -- 46%

For Love of the Game (1999) -- 46%
43%
6.6/10
137m
Genre
Drama, Romance
Stars
Kevin Costner, Kelly Preston, John C. Reilly
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Sam Raimi and Kevin Costner don’t make the most natural pair, and For Love of the Game is undoubtedly one of the weaker entries in Raimi’s fairly strong filmography. Costner plays an aging pitcher who reflects on the love of his life as he attempts to pitch a perfect game. The movie is maudlin and overdramatic, and its central romance just isn’t all that compelling. The baseball is pretty fun to watch, though.
For Love of the Game Official Trailer #2 - Brian Cox Movie (1999) HD

Crimewave (1985) -- 50%

Crimewave (1985) -- 50%
34%
5.6/10
83m
Genre
Thriller, Comedy, Crime
Stars
Louise Lasser, Reed Birney, Sheree J. Wilson
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
In the earliest part of his career, Raimi was living and occasionally collaborating with the Coen brothers, and Crimewave is perhaps the most anonymous collaboration between the two. Raimi served as the project’s director, while the Coens wrote the screenplay, but the movie never totally coheres. It’s got the kind of madcap energy that both Raimi and the Coens would embrace later on, but it feels very much like something that was put together on the fly.
Crimewave - Trailer

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) -- 57%

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) -- 57%
44%
6.3/10
130m
Genre
Fantasy, Adventure, Family
Stars
James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
One of Raimi’s stranger directing choices, Oz the Great and Powerful may be the most anonymous film he’s ever made. The movie is a prequel to The Wizard of Oz focusingon the wizard’s journey into Oz, and while it has its moments, the movie fails to make any larger point about the story its trying to tell. It’s a bit of corporate brand extension masquerading as a feature film, and that’s why it wasn’t beloved at the time or now.
Oz The Great and Powerful Trailer 2

The Gift (2000) -- 57%

The Gift (2000) -- 57%
62%
6.7/10
111m
Genre
Horror, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Stars
Cate Blanchett, Giovanni Ribisi, Keanu Reeves
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
One of Raimi’s stranger efforts, The Gift has plenty of style but seems to lack a coherent script. The movie follows a medium played by Cate Blanchett who becomes involved in the investigation into a murder in her small town. Blanchett delivers her usual excellence, but the movie never delivers the kind of impact that it feels like it should. It’s a misfire, but it’s not a calamitous one.
The Gift trailer

The Quick and the Dead (1995) -- 58%

The Quick and the Dead (1995) -- 58%
49%
6.5/10
107m
Genre
Western, Action, Thriller
Stars
Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Netflix
One of the most underrated movies in Raimi’s entire filmography, The Quick and the Dead is a no-fat Western that features a truly astounding ensemble cast. Raimi’s flourishes as a director are on full display here, but almost always in service of the shoot ’em up story that he’s trying to tell. The performances are excellent across the board, including from Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, and a pre-Titanic Leonard DiCaprio.
The Quick And The Dead (1995) Trailer

Spider-Man 3 (2007) -- 63%

Spider-Man 3 (2007) -- 63%
59%
6.2/10
139m
Genre
Fantasy, Action, Adventure
Stars
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on YouTube
Perhaps Raimi’s most reviled movie, Spider-Man 3 was met with a more mixed reception at the time than many recall. While Raimi has often loudly disowned the film, there is plenty in his third Spider-Man outing worth enjoying. Not all of the creative choices pan out, and the movie is certainly overstuffed with villains and plot, but Raimi remains a virtuoso director, and there are several sequences in this film that stack up with the best work in the trilogy.
Spider-man 3 (2007) - Trailer

Army of Darkness (1992) -- 73%

Army of Darkness (1992) -- 73%
59%
7.4/10
81m
Genre
Fantasy, Horror, Comedy
Stars
Bruce Campbell, Embeth Davidtz, Marcus Gilbert
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on HBO Max
The end of Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy, Army of Darkness has a much bigger scale than either of its predecessors, and while it was met with a more mixed reaction at the time, it’s come to be seen as something of a classic by modern standards. The movie sees Ash transported back to medieval times, and leans full bore into the comedic sensibilities of Evil Dead 2. There’s no seriousness to be found in this movie, and it’s all the better for it.
Army Of Darkness [Collector's Edition] (1993) - Official Trailer

Darkman (1990) -- 83%

Darkman (1990) -- 83%
65%
6.4/10
96m
Genre
Action, Science Fiction, Thriller
Stars
Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Raimi’s first crack at the superhero movie, Darkman was one of many movies that came in the wake of 1989’s Batman, and it was one of the best. Although it doesn’t have any origin in comic books, Darkman tells a satisfying superhero origin story about a scientist who is attacked and seeks revenge against those who almost destroyed his life. Featuring an early Liam Neeson performance, Darkman is an underrated gem worth seeking out.
Darkman Official Trailer #1 - Liam Neeson Movie (1990) HD

A Simple Plan (1998) -- 90%

A Simple Plan (1998) -- 90%
82%
7.5/10
121m
Genre
Crime, Thriller
Stars
Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda, Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Possibly Raimi’s most straightforward and mature film, A Simple Plan is a remarkably sad story about what happens to a group of people when they come across a giant stash of money. The movie becomes a series of escalating bad choices, culminating with a number of emotionally devastating murders. Raimi is at his most restrained here, but he gets wonderful performances out of every actor in his ensemble, and that’s especially true of Billy Bob Thornton as Bill Paxton’s simple, morally conflicted brother.
A Simple Plan (1998) HQ Trailer

Spider-Man (2002) -- 90%

Spider-Man (2002) -- 90%
73%
7.4/10
121m
Genre
Fantasy, Action
Stars
Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Raimi’s first Spider-Man outing didn’t quite reach the critical heights of its sequel, but it got pretty close. The performances in this first film are undoubtedly pretty broad, but part of the movie’s appeal is how closely it seems to hue to Spider-Man’s comic book corniness. The filmmaking here remains remarkably assured, and regardless of a few hiccups here and there (the Party City Green Goblin costume is still awful), Spider-Man holds up better than most entries in the superhero canon.
Spider-Man (2002) Official Trailer 1 - Tobey Maguire Movie

Drag Me to Hell (2009) -- 92%

Drag Me to Hell (2009) -- 92%
83%
6.6/10
99m
Genre
Horror, Thriller
Stars
Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Hulu
Raimi’s late career return to the horror of his roots proved to be an utter smash with critics. The movie, which tells the story of bank employee who denies an old woman a loan and is cursed as a result. The movie updates many of the conventions of the Evil Dead movies for a more modern audiences, and ultimately proves to be just as uproariously funny as those early efforts.
Drag Me To Hell (2009) - Official Trailer (HD)

Spider-Man 2 (2004) -- 93%

Spider-Man 2 (2004) -- 93%
83%
7.4/10
127m
Genre
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars
Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Maybe the best superhero movie ever made, Spider-Man 2 knows exactly what it’s doing. Raimi maintains utter sincerity throughout, and it pays off in spades in sequence after sequence. In addition to its incredible direction, the movie features a roster of top-notch performances, and a plot that is water-tight from top to bottom. Raimi was responsible for the superhero craze we’re still living through, but nobody did it better than him.
SPIDER-MAN 2 Trailer (2004)

The Evil Dead (1981) -- 95%

The Evil Dead (1981) -- 95%
71%
7.4/10
85m
Genre
Horror
Stars
Bruce Campbell, Ellen Sandweiss, Richard DeManincor
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Raimi’s first film remains one of his best reviewed. The Evil Dead showed us what kind of director Raimi could be, and he spent the next 30 years showing the world what he was capable of. The Evil Dead is terrifying, manic, and over the top, and it proved that Raimi could do more than anyone else with basically no resources.
The Evil Dead - Official Trailer

Evil Dead II (1987) -- 95%

Evil Dead II (1987) -- 95%
72%
7.7/10
84m
Genre
Horror, Comedy, Fantasy
Stars
Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Watch on Amazon
Raimi’s second at-bat with the Evil Dead franchise was just as popular as his first with critics, even if the movie is a soft reboot of the first installment. This time, things take a more comedic twist, and Raimi basically invents the comedy horror genre. The slapstick style and loopy effects in Evil Dead II are remarkable, as is Bruce Campbell’s fiercely committed central performance.
Evil Dead 2 - Brand New 4K Restoration Trailer

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Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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