It has been 27 years since Sam Raimi made the world sit up and take notice with The Evil Dead and 16 years since he directed his last horror film, Army Of Darkness.

Since then he has broadened his range to include a western (The Quick And The Dead), a thriller (A Simple Plan) and a sports drama (For The Love Of The Game).

And there was that modest Spider-Man trilogy he made for Sony. But now Raimi is set to return to his independent horror roots by directing Drag Me To Hell for Ghost House Pictures, the genre banner he set up in 2002 with Rob Tapert, Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane.

Naturally he is exuberant about this homecoming of sorts. 'It's a screenplay (my brother Ivan and I) have been working on, on and off, for about 10 years,' Raimi says during a break from pre-production.

'We originally wrote it as something of a short story and extended it into a full screenplay. We always intended to make it, probably just to produce. But with the writers' strike going on and our inability to move forward on a new screenplay, I thought it would be something I might direct.

'I've always loved horror pictures and I've been away from them for a lot of years and I really enjoy producing pictures for Ghost House.

'I have learned a lot from watching our directors like Takashi Shimizu on The Grudge, David Slade who made 30 Days Of Night for us, and the Pang brothers, who are making The Messengers. I'm excited to take some of what I've learned from producing those films.'

Drag Me To Hell is scheduled to begin shooting in Los Angeles on March 15. Mandate International will commence pre-sales in Berlin and is expected to announce casting soon.

Raimi will not give away the budget but says this will be the most expensive Ghost House film so far.

'I don't want to give away too much but it's basically about a young woman who has the chance to advance in her career - but to get that there is one small sin she has to commit.

'When she does that she crosses the wrong woman, who puts a curse on her. If the curse is successful it will literally drag her down into hell.'

What if the script needs small re-writes and the strike is still in effect' 'I hope the strike will end,' he says.

'What I'm really concerned about is being on set when the actors have begun to grow into their characters and come up with questions and there will be a real desire to incorporate these things. I will have to see what I can do as a director and will need to look at the rules.

'I hope to please the horror crowd, that's the main thing. Audiences want to see what they didn't see last time. That's why horror sequels don't work for me.

Horror films are an opportunity to describe a whole other plain of existence - that's what's so exciting to me. I am trying to make a really fun thrill-ride for audiences.'