Little-seen slapstick/noir directed by Sam Raimi and written by the Coen Brothers, without matching up to their then-standard of excellence. The plot, a hodgepodge of noir cliches, involves an insurance plot, two grotesquely over-the-top hitmen (one played by Brion James), and a nerdy stooge, who tells us his story from the electric chair. I feel the same way about this plot as I do Blood Simple’s; it really seems to exist just to show some set pieces off, rather than the other way around. Aside from a running subplot about Bruce Campbell as a “heel” trying to pick up women, there is very little in the story, plot, or dialogue that sustains interest. Whether this is due to the amateur nature of the script or meddlesome studio tinkering, who knows. However, the real interesting aspect of the film is the staging. The film is set up as a noir, but plays like a slapstick, and in that sense, it almost works. There are big comic set-pieces, and Raimi’s touch actually pulls a good amount of them off, particularly a sequence where a game Louise Lasser runs away from a hitman in “The Safest Hallway in the World.” His Three Stooges influence is more on display here than any of his horror work, and it is refreshing to see him using those talents in a genuine comedy. That being said, other than that and his use of Campbell in a supporting role (who nonetheless steals the whole fucking show, seemingly out of spite), unfortunately, the ingenuity of his and the Coen Brothers would be better utilized in the coming years than this one.
Slightly Recommended for big Sam Raimi or Bruce fans, but latter beware; he bites it about 2/3rds in, and the movie can’t prove its mettle without him. There’s a reason this isn’t a hotter commodity online, but it really isn’t that bad, and, if you are interested, worth checking out for some truly original and cool comic staging.