B-movie god Bruce Campbell has just about done it all—from lead roles in offbeat indie flicks like Bubba Ho-Tep to cameos in big-budget hits like the Spider-Man series. Not only does he have a broad array of TV work under his belt, including playing the title role in “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” and his current gig, on USA Network’s popular spy series, “Burn Notice,” but he’s also the published author of two books (with a third on the way). In recent years, Campbell has also tried his hand at movie directing, helming (and starring in) such features as the self-referential My Name is Bruce and Man with the Screaming Brain.
Of course, Campbell’s best known and most beloved role remains Ash, the unlikely hero in Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. It all started back in the late 1970s when Campbell and a group of young friends from Michigan (including Raimi, who went on to helm the Spider-Man trilogy and Drag Me to Hell) decided to make a low-budget, no-holds-barred horror flick that would soon become a classic of the genre. The story, about five friends who travel to a secluded, demon-possessed cabin in the woods for the scariest night of their young lives, was simple and effective. Boasting innovative effects and camerawork, gore by the gallons and a tense, unrelenting pace, The Evil Dead has aged like fine wine in the nearly 30 years since it was first unleashed on unsuspecting audiences. The surprise success of the film led to two sequels, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, which pushed the series in a more comic, Three Stooges-inspired direction. With the original now being released on Blu-ray, The Evil Dead is sure to terrify a whole new generation of audiences.
Just before its Blu-ray debut on August 31 from Anchor Bay Entertainment, MM caught up with Campbell to discuss the enduring appeal of The Evil Dead, as well as the oddest question he’s ever been asked by a fan.
Kyle Rupprecht (MM): Although The Evil Dead is nearing its 30th anniversary, it’s still as popular as ever. To what do you attribute the movie’s enduring appeal?
Bruce Campbell (BC): We worked our asses off for four years to get it made. I think that shows. What we lacked in skill, we more than made up for in youthful enthusiasm. It’s also a true “indie,” not in name only. This was really a movie made by our own six hands (Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert [the film’s producer] as well), not by any form of studio, and we were able to get it shown around the world. Perhaps the “little movie that could” concept still resonates.
MM:Do you share any character traits with Ash?
BC: Cowardice? Stupidity? Hopefully not. I identify with Ash when he gets more into Army of Darkness territory—he’s much more of a smartass like me.
MM: We know you’re tired to death of Evil Dead 4 questions, so, instead, if you could reprise another character from one of your past films, who would it be and why?
BC: Aside from Evil Dead, I wouldn’t mind revisiting Bubba Ho-Tep or “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” Both were fun characters to play. But overall, I’m not a huge fan of sequels or remakes. I always like the single original film best.
MM: How has the independent film scene changed since the early ’80s, when you and Sam Raimi managed to turn the micro-budgeted Evil Dead into a surprise horror smash?
BC: Honestly, filmmakers can still form a company, raise money and do what we did. Hell, filmmakers have the digital world to help them out and the Internet. We didn’t have any of that. A solid work ethic is still the most needed element—the ability to stick to a project to the bitter end. Seems like attentions spans have diminished as of late.
MM: What’s the best piece of advice you would offer to someone trying to break out with his/her own successful indie film?
BC: Read my book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. It’s almost 300 pages of advice. Lazy filmmakers will fail. Clever, hardworking filmmakers might have a chance.
MM: What’s next for you? Any interesting projects in the works you can share with us?
BC: “Burn Notice” has been my day job for the last four years, and I’m delighted to work on the #1 show on cable. Aside from that, I’ll be touring in the off season and working on my next book: Vagabond—An Actor’s Gypsy Life and my next flick, Bruce Vs. Frankenstein [which Campbell is also scheduled to direct].
MM: What’s the oddest question you’ve ever been asked by a fan?
BC: “Will you marry me?” The answer was no, because my wife was within earshot!