During all the hoopla surrounding "Spider-Man" and its two sequels — the record-breaking openings and grosses and the talk of new villains and comic characters — chatter among true aficionados inevitably turned to some of the movies' more grotesque moments, such as Doc Ock waking up in a hospital, for instance, or his wife getting cut by thousands of shards of glass.
People wondered: Wouldn't it be great if director Sam Raimi left the bloated budgets behind and returned to his horror roots?
It turns out that Sam Raimi was thinking the same thing.
"I really wanted to make this picture because I wanted to get back to making a lower-budget film — something that really connects with the audience on a visual level," the director told MTV News at Comic-Con about his newest flick, a horror movie called "Drag Me to Hell." "I wanted to get down and dirty a little bit more this time."
The flick — Raimi's first foray into horror since 1992's "Army of Darkness" — follows an ambitious loan officer (Alison Lohman) who becomes the target of a malicious curse after foreclosing on a loan to an old woman.
It's a downright simple setup free from intricacies of character or plot that allows Raimi to subject his characters to all manner of torture in the name of thrills, including such pleasant images as a woman puking maggots and flies going up noses. ("The fly is sort of like symbolizing her curse," co-star Justin Long pointed out. "And it's just disturbing. It's really just off-putting.")
It's a method he's perfected on other horror movies, Raimi said, where the plot is just a pole on which to hang the scares.
"I like the simple thrills of making a movie that makes audiences go, 'Ahh!' and scream. And I like saying, 'Boo!' to the audience. I like constructing simple suspense sequences, and I think they work on the audience," he said. "It's kind of like real simple storytelling, making a horror film — working with audience expectation or delivering the punch line or the scare, or holding back on the punch line or the scare at the right moment."
Watching Raimi in his element is a beautiful thing, say the flick's stars — especially when it isn't beautiful.
"Old-school Sam Raimi — really, really exciting," Long said.
"I love horror and torture movies, and it was a pleasure to work with Sam because I saw, obviously, 'Evil Dead,' Sam Raimi's first movie," co-star Adriana Barraza, who plays a psychic overtaken by the devil, echoed. "To do a medium in this film where the devil is near to me was a very fun experience."
"That's the goal," Raimi said, a wicked smile on his face — to which horror fans everywhere might add: Welcome back.
According to Raimi, the flick is aiming for a PG-13 rating.
Check out everything we've got on "Drag Me to Hell."
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