2. Backseat Driver (Drag Me to Hell)
Having been pressured by her boss to refuse a mortgage extension to an impoverished and sickly Roma woman, timid bank clerk Christine (Alison Lohman) is cursed then attacked in her car by Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver).
Raimi makes scary movies, but rarely have his horror films not been funny too. We first see Mrs Ganush’s distinctive mucus-covered handkerchief caught by a gust of wind in front of Christine’s car, then she’s sitting on the back seat raspily intoning “You shamed me!” before attacking. The amount of physical torment Alison Lohman’s Christine goes through in this scene and later in the movie rivals what Raimi usually subjects Bruce Campbell to.
In the process of fighting back using office stationery and the momentum of her car, Christine is nearly throttled, has chunks of her hair ripped out, and is covered in old lady saliva as Mrs Ganush lunges forward after losing her false teeth. All the lady’s efforts are to remove a button from Christine’s coat which allows a deadly curse to be bound to her.
As a scene it sets out Raimi’s stall, making it clear he’s having the time of his life making a twisted comic horror movie again.
1. Doc Ock Awakens (Spider-Man 2)
Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is making an effort to better balance his dual lives as Spider-Man and as a responsible adult who attends his classes, so he befriends brilliant scientist Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina). After the good Doctor’s nuclear fusion experiment goes disastrously wrong, despite Spider-Man’s disaster-averting intervention his four smart mechanical arms used for manipulation in hazardous environments are fused to his body. Hours later, Dr Octavius wakes up in an operating theatre to surgeons trying to remove his extra appendages with power tools. With a murderous mind of their own, the appendages fight back.
This scene has a slow build of tension: as the surgeons spark up their circular saws, a slight sway on the wires supporting the tentacles and movements glimpsed in polished surfaces suddenly give way to absolute pandemonium.
Rarely have we seen such a brutal (but crucially for the age certification, bloodless) scene in a superhero blockbuster. The surgical team get thrown against walls and bludgeoned, one poor woman shrieking as her fingernails leave grooves in the floor.
There has been lots of talk about to what extent Raimi should bring horror into his superhero movies. Darkman aside, Spider-Man 2 is where he indulged in the genre hybridisation to the most gleeful extent, and it’s this scene that best underlines his twin passions: treating genre filmmaking with care and respect, and causing carnage with the same unbridled energy of a five year-old.
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Those were the 10 Best Sam Raimi Movie Moments. Which of the many iconic moments summoned by the darkly playful energy of Sam Raimi do you enjoy the most? We want to know! Leave a comment below with any suggestions you may have, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and Twitter for more insightful movie lists.