Hero Worship: Sam Raimi

Edgar Wright, director of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and the forthcoming The World's End, enthuses about his filmmaking idol, Sam Raimi

Feature by Edgar Wright | 08 Jul 2013

When I was a teenager growing up in Somerset, I had wrongly assumed that directors were just born into Hollywood. I thought that someone like Steven Spielberg was just delivered to the gates of Universal Studios by a stork – this is patently untrue. But then I heard the story of how Sam Raimi made The Evil Dead.

I used to watch the programme Jonathan Ross did in the late 80s called The Incredibly Strange Film Show and they did a whole hour on Sam Raimi. I was already interested in movies but that really was the flashpoint for wanting to become a film director, because it hadn’t really occurred to me until then that there was an entry level outside Hollywood. So to hear the story of this person, aged 18, making a horror film and eventually getting it seen worldwide was astonishing to me. At that point I don’t think I’d even seen The Evil Dead or Evil Dead II – I definitely hadn’t seen The Evil Dead as it was banned on video at the time – but I saw the Jonathan Ross documentary and I was staggered. I thought, 'That’s what I want to do.'

Evil Dead II was also a big film for me when I was a teenager because of its mix of genres. On paper it was a horror film, and yet it was funnier than most comedies. That really stuck with me. I remember watching it and thinking, 'Wow, I didn’t know you could make a film like this!' It’s something else: a fever dream, a Looney Tunes horror movie. That was a big inspiration when I was starting out. It just really appealed to me how go for broke it was.

Not only have I met Sam on several occasions now, we’ve become friends, which is amazing. Later he actually offered me The Curse, which became Drag Me to Hell. He’d written it and he wanted me to direct it, but I couldn’t really accept, a) because I was doing Hot Fuzz and b) because it was so obvious to me that it should be Sam Raimi directing it that I said, ‘No, you’ve got to do this. If I did it, it would just feel like karaoke.’ So he ended up directing too. I visited the set of Drag Me to Hell years later. It was the second-from-last day of the shoot and Sam was shooting a scene in a graveyard. He was wearing his usual suit and tie combo but it was completely covered in flecks of mud, then he saw me and shouted across the stage, “This is all your fault, Wright.”

His prankish, mischievous nature has never deserted him. He always makes me laugh, and that’s why he was a hero of mine growing up and to have become friends with him is quite extraordinary.

The Evil Dead trailer

The World's End trailer

The final part of Edgar Wright's Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, The World's End, is released nationwide 19 Jul

Edgar Wright was in interview with Jamie Dunn