Bruce Campbell, Hail To The Chin Baby
Cinema Junkie / October 28, 2017
"Ash Vs. Evil Dead" season three opener has been postponed to February! So if you want your Bruce Campbell fix in October, check out this podcast and his new book, "Hail to the Chin."
Beth Acamando: Welcome back to another edition of listener supported KPBS Cinema Junkie Podcast. I’m Beth Acamando.
It’s almost Halloween, so it’s the perfect time for a big scare.
“Then get in through your mouth and you woke around on the incubator even if you are dead”.
Michael Wall: Science fiction writers might have thought they came up with the original idea but insects did it first. [laughing]
Beth Acamando: Much of science fiction and even horror has its root in science fact, that’s why its so much fun to speak with a real scientist like Michael Wall.
Michael Wall: The cockroach loses its free will [laughing] and parasites have a tendency to do this, they will eventually take over, you know the brains and – I don’t know if its the brains but they will take over their behavior and cause them to do things that they normally wouldn’t do.
Beth Acamando: Well, we don’t want to take over your brains, but there is a new podcast coming to KPBS that’s bound to stimulate your brain. It’s a journey through the amazing work scientists are doing here in San Diego and how they are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge. So before we get to the grooviness that’s Brue Campbell, I just want to give you a taste of what's coming from the KPBS podcast network.
Margo Wall: San Diego is one of the largest scientific research hubs in the country. So who are the intrepid scientists in search of discovery pushing the frontiers of human knowledge. This is Red Scientist, where the scientist becomes the subject. I am your host, Margo Wall, and I am here to give you a taste of this new KPBS podcast.
I am a physicist like around the clock, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, maybe if I opened up like a dog resort with puppies and stuff.
Male Speaker: Humanity came within the cigarette papers thickness of going extinct.
Male Speaker: So hundred years of searching or supernova, thousands of supernova were found and I find one and its ten times brighter than anything before them.
Female Speaker: I talk to my plants.
Female Speaker: What do you feel if I ask you to donate a leaf to me? [laughing]
Male Speaker: Please clear the annex, we are starting the sequence for the next test shot, ready to fire in three seconds -2, 1, now, shot in progress.
Female Speaker: You can find Red Scientists in your favorite podcast app, subscribe now and stay red.
Beth Acamando: You can subscribe to Red Scientist now through the show notes. The first episode of the season is already out.
Bruce Campbell: Alright, you primitive screw heads, listen up.
Beth Acamando: That’s right, it’s time to listen to the man with the boom stick.
Bruce Campbell: Sure, I could have stayed in the past, could have even been king, but in my own way I am king, hail to the king, baby.
Beth Acamando: All hail Bruce, the man who has been fighting [indiscernible] [0:03:12] with a chainsaw hand in smart and lucky [phonetic] [0:03:14] attitude for decades. He has just written his third book and it’s called “Hail to the Chin”. It’s a follow up to his 2002 book, “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor”
Bruce Campbell: This book is a gateway to hell, a way to summon forces of evil into our only realm. Yep, that’s exactly what I thought but he’s continued, you see in ancient times there was a group known as “Darkones” neither demon nor fully human, they created this book as a weapon against humanity. These pages were cut from the bodies of the dead, upon which the Darkones [inaudible] [0:03:55] their passages in human blood. Passages that contain the power to create portals connecting our world to the underworld where evil resides. The Darkones use this book to hold power over all mankind.
“So the book is the source of evil?”
“No, no, not the source, more of a passageway. The book itself is harmless, unless welded by someone either very evil or very stupid.”
Beth Acamando: The third season of Ash versus Evil Dead was supposed to premiere this month. But it got postponed till February of 2018. So to tide you over until February, you can read his book or you can take a listen to this podcast. On October 26th Mysterious Galaxy Book Store in San Diego hosted a book signing with Bruce Campbell. Bookseller Rob Crawther described the scene
Rob Crawther: It's sort of wall to wall people, surprisingly it's not as weird a crowd as I was hoping for, got fans for everything from Brisco County Jr. through The Evil Dead. So there is a terrific crowd, they are all excited.
Female Speaker: Do you know about how many people are here?
Rob Crawther: Right now it’s approaching 400.
Beth Acamando: One of those people was Lisa Camper and she was downright giddy with excitement to meet Bruce Campbell.
Lisa Camper: Oh my gosh, I love all his parts, I have watched almost every – no, every single one, not even almost, every single one. I used to watch him when he first came out in the ‘80s. He is just the awesomest guy, he is the man. I had my son trained when he was two years old, learning to talk saying Bruce Campbell is the man.
Beth Acamando: And indeed he is. Let me offer one anecdote as proof and it has nothing to do with all the awesomeness he puts on screen. I believe it was 2003, Bruce Campbell was in San Diego to introduce Bubba Ho-Tep at the Ken Cinema and then at midnight Landmark was going to show the Evil Dead 2. My son was about 10-years-old and was down to see Bubba Ho-Tep, but he was a little bit worried that Evil Dead 2 would be too scary. I thought that if maybe he met Bruce Campbell, the actor he would see on screen fighting off demons, he might be less anxious about seeing the film. Since I knew the staff of the Ken Cinema, I asked if I might be able to have my son say hi to Bruce, they asked and he very kindly obliged. He was very nice to my son who was also dealing with a bully at school. Bruce chatted with him for a number of minutes. I explained his concerns about seeing Evil Dead 2 and Bruce put an arm around him and cheerily assured him that it would be fine because its splat stick, splatter gore, and slap stick comedy. My son smiled, got a picture with Bruce and has been a lifelong fan ever since.
“What are you?”
“Me, are you me”
“[inaudible] [0:06:38] me” [laughing]
“You sound like a jerk”
“Why are you doing this?”
“Oh you want to know?” “Because the answer is easy.”
“I am badass and you are goodass. You are goody little too shoes, You are goody little too shoes You are goody little too shoes.” [laughing]
Beth Acamando: He loved Evil Dead 2 and was able to laugh at all the things that might have scared him if Bruce hadn’t been so generous to spend just a few moments with a budding fan and that’s why Bruce Campbell is the man and always will be.
Beth Acamando: And that’s the thing about Bruce Campbell. He is beloved because he makes a personal connection with his fans, even if he pokes ruthless fun at them at the same time. Take his 2005 first appearance at San Diego Comicon, where fans were asking about his second book, “Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way”.
“When is “Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way” coming out on paperback as opposed to the hardcover that’s out now? [laughing], Why you cheap bastard, buy now. It is my travel book, you are referring to a book that I refer to in “Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way”. Sir, I hate to tell you this, but the book is a novel, its not real.”
Beth Acamando: And sometimes fan seem to feed him lines that he can just run with.
“Look, let’s discuss this rationally for a second. Ash Bruce is Freddy versus Jason, Let’s just, that’s on the internet so it must be true, so let’s talk about it. [laughing] We had a five minute conversation with Newline about it and a five minute conversation involved me for the rest of my life because now it will never go away. And the five minute conversation was this – what can we control? Only Ash, okay, so two thirds of the movie can suck and we have no control over it, that’s right, so how would I know that I could kill Freddie or Jason because there would be no reason to be in there unless Ash could kill both of their doughy asses.” [clapping] “There is no guarantee of that. And when you make another Evil Dead with me which would be like part three and half, you expect to make some money but we would be splitting the pie with two other franchises who have invited us into their world, it’s a bad idea. It’s a bad idea, so we said no. That was the five minute conversation, plus where does it take place? Sacramento, where did the staircase come from, what are the rules, there is three sets of universal rules of what's happening there, what monsters and how they die and how they live, so it’s a bad idea.”
Beth Acamando: While waiting for Bruce Campbell to arrive at Mysterious Galaxy, I spoke with a few fans about why they love him.
cI am Michael Carpenter, I love Bruce Campbell, I used to watch his Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, all that stuff. Army of Darkness is awesome, Ash versus Evil Dead is an awesome show and I love it so much. We just finished Season 2 and its amazing, it’s just really good and he is just a really funny guy. I mean anything he says and its always hilarious, and everything I have seen in him, he is always like call me dude, and he always makes me laugh. So I am here for him and I can’t wait to see him.
Female Speaker: Okay, do you have a favorite Bruce Campbell line?
Michael Carpenter: Groovy, for sure.
“Okay, I am Disha Marshall, I’m Rebecca Josen. Well, in my head I grew up on horror movies with him and he made me love horror and he is like the most beautiful thing at…” [laughing]
“That’s true, yeah, that’s only because we grew up together and so that’s all we would do is watch horror movies.”
“So what was the first Bruce Campbell film you saw, was it Evil Dead or was it a later one?”
“It was Evil dead.”
“Evil Dead, yeah.”
“Like that’s the one that scared the shit out of me and like left an [inaudible] [0:10:22] for like ever, so that’s my life.”
“It scarred us for life, so it made quite the impression. We became deadites, we became [inaudible] [0:10:33] [laughing].”
“Yeah, I am really …”
Female Speaker: And are you looking forward to the new season of Ash versus Evil Dead?”
“Oh my god, yes, February yes, hell yes.” [laughing]
Richard Hill: My name is Richard Hill, I am executive producer of the Blood Hunter, movie starring Timothy Patrick Quill and Danny Hicks, from Army of Darkness and Evil Dead 2. So when I was 14 was the first time I saw Evil Dead and from that point on I wanted to make movies. It was like what I wanted to do. So I watched that movie and I was just like, I don’t know what it was about and I loved Sam Rammy and so then I started watching everything that was Sam Rammy and I noticed that this guy was in like everything and so I just, I followed him since I was that old but I am more – like I like Sam’s work but I more fell in love with Bruce as an actor because he is just a funny guy, like he is comedic and he is kind of angelic when he acts like he is really good at it. Like he does it with like this kind of grace and nobody really has anymore like that old ‘60s, ‘70s comedy grace like the studios had because of course they all loved the studios run up. No, he really does, he is a really good actor. He has had this – and he has got three books now, this is his third book, right. He has got “If Chins Could Kill” and then he has got “Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way”, which, and they are both fascinating books, like I would recommend honestly reading them. They are really good because they have all these stories in them from his entire career. You know even if you are like a Bruce Campbell or Sam Rammy fan or any of that, even if you are like just a film fan, you like movies, the books are fascinating. They are really enjoyable to read and they have a lot of good stories in them.
Sandra Deakins: Sandra Deakins.
Female Speaker: What do you like about Bruce Campbell?
Sandra Deakins: His humor mostly and I am very thankful that he has written a second book to go along with his more, you know his previous book, and I look forward to reading it. It just looks like it’s going to be a blast. I am thoroughly enjoying re-reading the first book again and I am going to have him sign that one tonight as well. When he comes to Comicon every year, it’s a blast to see him there and he is very entertaining and he loves his fans. That’s one of things that’s very special about Bruce is that he goes out of his way to say hello to you, even if he doesn’t know you from Jack, literally Jack Spades. [laughing] But, he’s just a nice guy, so a lot of fun.
Coy Daren Jones: My name is Coy Daren Jones and I am a Bruce Campbell fan, I have got the other two books.
Female Speaker: And what have you brought here for him to sign?
Coy Daren Jones: A copy of the Necronomicon [phonetic] [0:13:01] that my brother made and gave it to me for my birthday and that’s got like replica of the book from the movie.
Mary Starion: Hi, I’m Mary Starion.
Female Speaker: And you are here for Bruce Campbell book signing, what do you like about Bruce?
Mary Starion: His humor, he is always funny. And I need a lot of funny right now. [laughing]
Female Speaker: Looking around here at the audience, would you say that there is a pretty diverse crowd here?
Mary Starion: Yes, actually, there is a good age range, there is actually kids in this room all the way up to – some of us who are not telling our ages.
Female Speaker: Do you have a favorite work of his, a film or a TV show?
Mary Starion: I was going to go with Bubba Ho-Tep and then Evil Dead.
Female Speaker: And do you have a favorite Bruce Campbell line?
Mary Starion: This is my broom stick.
Sarah Borne: My name is Sarah Borne.
Female Speaker: And tell me what you are dressed like.
Sarah Borne: I am dressed as Ash from Evil Dead 1 and 2.
Female Speaker: So what makes you a fan of Bruce Campbell?
Sarah Borne: Well my family and I grew up watching like Evil Dead. I actually really like Brisco County Jr. a lot and we are just huge fans. We were raised on a lot of his stuff, so.
Female Speaker: And what is it about him that you find appealing?
Sarah Borne: Oh that beautiful chin, amazing hair, everything about him, his amazing clothes.
Female Speaker: And what have you brought here for him to sign?
Sarah Borne: I have brought my “Man with the Screaming Brain” Issue No. 1, I got it when I was like 15, so and its really special to me, so I brought that and I already got his book to sign, so.
Jacob Denton: Hi, my name is Jacob Denton.
Female Speaker: And what have you got here?
Jacob Denton: I have a little Necronomicon, little stash box, I got it at Monster Paluzo Convention, I’m going to have hopefully Bruce sign that today.
Female Speaker: What do you like about Bruce Campbell, why is he an actor that you enjoy?
Jacob Denton: Well, I grew with horror films but I have always been scared of him just like other people, you know, being raised off horror films when I was like five or six years old but he represented his character that defeated evil and he made me braver, he made me not scared of bogeyman when I was little because he was the only guy who could totally kickass and make fun jokes while doing it. So he made me appreciate horror, made me laugh at horror, kind of like the catalyst towards horror and comedy for me, so I appreciate everything he has done. I watched Army of Darkness like a hundred times when I was like six years old and that was just the most fun time ever. Just might be [inaudible] [0:15:22], that thing – I ran through that VHS copy like none other and it was just full of scratches at that point. I think Army of Darkness and Evil Dead 2 are just such a fun movie to raise kids of, just because of how ridiculous how goofy they are, yeah.
Female Speaker: Do you have a favorite line?
Jacob Denton: Shop smart shop ass smart, yeah, [laughing] and hey, she bitch.
Beth Acamando: Before he began signing books, Campbell read from a chapter about shooting his film, “Man with the Screaming Brain” in Bulgaria.
Bruce Campbell: For those of you who would like to follow along and watch every mistake that I make, page 98, a little piece called rest in pieces, it’s about making a movie in Bulgaria. A modern day classic called “Man with the Screaming Brain”. Rest in pieces, what comes with shooting in countries with far greater needs than those of an American exploitation film is what I call the Bulgarian box of chocolates. We are buying, you never really know day to day what you are going to get. He is seen in the film, “Man with the Screaming Brain”, the modern day classic involved a Vespa. I will spare you the narrative details of why it was critical but the Vespa had to be pink with streamers from the handle bars, it had to be completely destroyed on film. At the time I felt that my first meeting with the transportation department had gone well. Since only a small handful of crew members spoke English, my translator Asea was there as well. We discussed the alleged Vespa with Yuri, the head of the transportation department. “Now look Yuri” I remember saying, “I am assuming that when I say Vespa, we are all taking about the same type of machine. I brought this up because of the array of odd vehicles I had seen on the Bulgarian roads and I drew a crude picture on my dry [indiscernible] [0:17:16]. “Yes, of course,” Yuri nodded in recognition, “No problem.” “And I can paint it pink, right?” “Yes, of course, Yuri said, rolling his head from side to side, “Yes, of course.” [laughing] Doesn’t look like yes, it looks like yeah, whatever or maybe, what the fuck you say, I don’t know anything. [laughing] That was their way of saying understood. So about a week later I passed Yuri in the hallway of the production office and I couldn’t help but following up on the Vespa. Through Asea, who was continually on my side, I asked “Hey, Yuri, are we good on the Vespa?” Yuri thrust a thumb in the air and smiled confidently, “Yes, of course” “And we can paint it pink and wreck it, right?”. Yuri was spotted simply by rolling his head in that same way. A week after that with no Vespa news, I began to get nervous, we were only a few days away from needing it. I insisted that Yuri bring me an actual picture of the Vespa he intended to use, he did in fact produce a picture of a blue Vespa. “That’s fine Yuri, but its blue, you can paint it pink right?” Through translators Yuri assured me again that it was not a problem. “Okay,” I said chewing my lower lip, “We will shoot with that in two days, good luck.” 48 hours later the second unit was preparing to shoot the Vespa careening out of control without a rider and smashing into the side of a parked car. I was filming in the laboratory and sat across the street but peeped out when I had a chance. I was relieve to see the crew prepping a perfectly painted Vespa with pure little girly tassels fluttering from the handle bars. A few minutes later the ill fated machine was rolled to its doom, bounding off the parked cars, smashed to the ground and let out a filed gas courtesy of a cheesy spark effect. The crew applaud politely as is usually the case after a stunt is performed, but as I glanced at Asea I was shocked to see tears streaming down her face. This is very unusual because Asea had always been very calm and professional. I looked at Joe the first assistant director, “Joe, why is Asea crying?” Oh that’s because it’s her Vespa. [laughing] glancing at the smoldering wreck, “It was a gift from her father on her birthday. This they never told her they were going to wreck it.” But she was the fucking translator, [laughing], she was there, how could she not know. She let a shrug, “Welcome to Bulgaria.” [laughing] [clapping]
Beth Acamando: I spoke with Bruce Campbell the day before he was heading down to San Diego and Mysterious Galaxy. I wanted to talk about the contrast between his public persona and private one, not all his fans seemed to get that contrast.
Beth Acamando: Drives them for a halo or kills them, you are assuming that I am a gamer. I see the words, I don’t play the game. Sorry man. [laughing]
Beth Acamando: I wanted to talk to you about your book, because you have your new one coming out, your books I think to me reveal a kind of an interesting contrast in your career and persona because you come across at conventions you are like this ultra-cool cult favorite and Ash is known for being a reverend and wise cracking and it seems you have like this hoard of young fans but in your books you reveal that you are kind of this, and I don’t mean this in a negative way but you are like this old school kind of actor with a lot of respect for the profession and you have got this, a sense of what the business is like and I found out in the book you are a big fan of someone like Bob Hope.
Bruce Campbell: [laughing] That’s ridiculous, Lawrence love [phonetic] [0:21:07] for god sakes, but there is that ridiculous unescapable difference between the persona and the actual person. If anything, that’s what books can do is round out that image a little bit. I just like wearing dumb outfits and going to conventions and stuff has given me the excuse to do that. For some reason I do pretend like I don’t take any of it seriously, there is a lot of it that I don’t take seriously but I actually do take the craft seriously. It’s like being a good brick layer. I think you should take pride in some, if you are a craftsman try and be a good craftsman. So I guess I do take that seriously but there is always going to be a difference between the onscreen [indiscernible] [0:21:51] and then the guy who runs around on his property. You know there is always going to be difference between the persona of Humphrey Bogart and then who he really was, that will always happen.
Beth Acamando: And so Bob Hope is really one of your favorite kind of …
Bruce Campbell: [laughing] Again that’s a much the guy Bob Hope but the fact that, you know he touched every single of the big five bases. [Indiscernible] [0:22:17] he was in Broadway, a ton of radio, lots of television, got in television early and of course motion pictures. So he really did it all , he is a very, just a clever guy but I like his persona. His persona was that he was kind of an idiot, he would get himself into problems that and he would have to talk his way out of them not doing it very well. So I guess that just got used to seeing his double talk and you could tell he was that living a lot and I was like – yeah, that’s a kind of a character that I like playing that type of guy. So the character Ash now, of course on Ash versus Evil Dead, he really is in his own way Bob Hope as he is talking his way out of situations that he created.
Beth Acamando: So Ash is just kind of like one of those Bing Crosby Bob Hope Road movies? [laughing]
Bruce Campbell: Yes, like an unrated road movie really, that’s all it really is.
Beth Acamando: And you also kind of followed in his footsteps in terms of doing, like you also went out and entertained the troops and stuff as well too?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, that seemed like a good thing to do. We randomly got the opportunity, it makes them burned out as you know some service members came to visit he set and indicated that some of the service members that the show was popular there. We were like oh, who knew. It was acting on a rare privilege that actors sometimes get that they can go to warzone. You know the average schmaltz can’t just run over there and see what's going on unless you are of course Sean Penn or something like that. But when we got the opportunity we felt we couldn’t say no, it was too crazy of an opportunity and the troops really appreciate it. They are like oh, hey man, thanks for hauling your ass out to this crappy little forward operating base. I thought like it was a good thing to do because the one thing I think we have learned in the US is we treat our soldiers better. You don’t have to like the war, I hate war to the core of my being but I will never blame the person who is going to execute the war. I blame the people who wage the war, but never the soldier. Soldiers, you know, I give them credit, they are actually there with a freaking gun in their hand, I am not sure if I can do that but I can go there and crack jokes.
Beth Acamando: So your new book is “Hail to the Chin”, what led you to, is this your third book or..?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, second book was, I took a detour in this fiction briefly and then came back, but yeah some 15 years ago I put the first one out, “Confessions of a B Movie Actor” It just seemed like it was time. A lot of weird stuff had happened, the industry has changed a lot, the B movies that I have stood and championed for a long time seemed to be very prevalent now in that all the A movies are B movies. See if you dress up like a bat that’s a B movie, you know, if you are bitten by a radioactive spider that’s a 1950s B movie. So I feel vindicated now, I will leave it, it just caught up with my visionary thinking.
Beth Acamando: Your books are really fun reading, you have got like a lot of these anecdotes in it too, but it seems like if there is an actor or filmmaker starting out, your book is also full of a lot of really smart insights into how the business of Hollywood is run.
Bruce Campbell: Hopefully and it’s not, you know I don’t find it to be an overly joyous industry or a horrible one. You can kind of make your own way through it, and that hope that I can really impart that there really isn’t a secret. You can come from Buck Creek, Indiana and get into this business, you really can, you just got to figure out how to do it and you can do it from Buck Creek, Indiana too with the way technologies and digital cameras and doing stuff in your own computer and home generating stuff, film making is getting a lot easier now. It does not have hardly any of the drudgery that it used to have, so film makers should be glad they got it easy man.
Beth Acamando: Well it goes from like insights into contract negotiations to little minutia like talking to the sound guy about like, I don’t like to loop my lines.
Bruce Campbell: [laughing] Well, these will be practical things if anybody – if one actually likes to go what's it like in a film set. It’s always very different than you think in every situation. That’s the one thing that astounds me is how different of an experience different movies or television shows can be. I can come up with something and go man, that was just an awful experience and the movie is good and then you come off of something, you go – man, that was a blast and the thing dies a thousand deaths. So I am convinced that something that’s easy to make is hard to watch. Now there is a theory in there somewhere.
Beth Acamando: Well you talked a little bit about Bubba Ho-Tep in your book and you said that was a little bit of a different kind of shooting experience for you with Don Coscarelli because he was very meticulous and a bit slow in the process.
Bruce Campbell: Yeah.
Beth Acamando: But ultimately is that one of the films that you feel most proud of?
Bruce Campbell: Yeah, that’s a five for sure, you know, I think it’s a cool little gem of a movie, it’s like a thunderous story about ageing, oh yeah, and there is a mummy you know in the [laughing] [inaudible] [0:27:35] that I really felt Joe Lansdill hit a great tone and it was a nice little story I thought. Then, you know, good god Ossie Davis to get one of his last performances, was just – it was a fortunate collision of incidents. And every situation in the career of arts you are going to get different dynamics between the people. Some actors get along famously, they love each other, and they will do anything for each other and some actors want to tear each other’s eyes out. It’s so amazing to witness the whole spectrum and I read a lot of actor books, so it is the same thing. It is nice to know the same thing has happened since day one. There have been [inaudible] [0:28:17] great creative alliances and absolutely terrific fights and arguments and people walking up sets. It’s all very, you know we are the arts, we are a little overly dramatic I guess.
Beth Acamando: [laughing] Well, it must have been great to work with Ossie Davis?
Bruce Campbell: It was because the guy, you know, if you look back at his life I think his first movie was like 1945 and this was 2001. The guy delivered the eulogy for Malcolm X, what a crazy life and stature he had. You know the first day of shooting, I was like Ossie I know I am in this movie, why are you in this movie? And he said his grandkids talking him into it because they were Evil Dead fans and I am like, “Well, that works for me.” So he was a great total class, totally everything you think he would be he was.
Beth Acamando: Well, both of you got robbed for an Oscar, you should have both been up for that the very least.
Bruce Campbell: Well, if anything it’s just nice to be part of a movie that holds up pretty well, that I go to a lot of, I still go to a lot of conventions and stuff and Bubba has crept in about 20% of what I sign is Bubba and that’s a pretty good inroads into the Evil Dead world.
Beth Acamando: Well that’s brilliant. Then talk a little bit about Burn Notice and your Sam Axe spinoff, because what I find interesting is that from a fan perspective we were just happy to see you get a film of your own and get your caricature developed. But the reasoning behind it has really nothing to do with like ..
Bruce Campbell: No, no there is no organic reasoning behind it whatsoever and that’s what I guess again people don’t necessarily need to know that but I thought it was an interesting byproduct of a contractor’s fee. That is why that movie got made, it’s the only reason that movie got made but, well, it got made. And it did, I thought next, came up with a genius ways who saw a money problem of that, ‘make a TV movie’, paid Bruce for that, it actually works so the other actors can’t complain that he is getting free money and developed his character. And Fox is going to make a TV movie or two anyway so let’s make it a, ‘Fox Tele Columbia’ where Rupert Murdoch just purchased 51%. What a great idea? So it was all, it made sense on papers that is for sure and then we finally had to do it which was more challenging.
Beth Acamando: I thought for sure the reason they made it was because you would come to ‘Comicon’ with Burn Notice, I think the first year and we are throwing out money to the audience, the crowd was going crazy, nobody was paying attention to any of the other actors and I thought, ’oh!, wow!’ the studio finally realizes that Bruce is the star.
Bruce Campbell: Well, no, what it was, no they came into my turf, is what it was. That show had no business being there, “Comicon’ is different now, now every shows goes on ‘Comicon’ just because it is pop culture, you want to get the word out but even then even back at the beginning of Burn Notice, even I thought it was weird that they were going to do padlock ‘Comicon’, ‘what the hell you guys, you are not a Sci-fic or horror fantasy but what was nice, it was nice for them to see it. It was nice for the studio to see that there are savages out there who are very vocal and very present. And same as stars, they got to see a lesson at the New York ‘Comicon’ where people had phone chain saws and they were chainsawing in the air during the screening of the first pilot. They realized the fervent nature of some of the Evil Dead fan, we are not many but we are strong.
Beth Acamando: And vocal,
Bruce Campbell: Yes and vocal.
Beth Acamando: I was at ‘Comicon’ the first time you appeared there and I mean the crowd was crazy for you,
Bruce Campbell: You know I can’t explain any of that other than the fact that they, I liked the fact that they are having a good time and I like to hope for them for sure, I think part of it, they expect to be made fun of when I do a panel, I give money, I take it away some times, we have a lot of impromptu stuff, that is the fun part, there is not a lot of interaction between actual actors and actual fans and the conventions are really one of the rare cases where you can go, ‘I want to meet Norman [indiscernible] [0:32:40]’ I am the TV show that I am watching right now. When I was a kid you couldn’t do that, Shatner wasn’t around, Shatner is everywhere now, you can’t get rid of that guy now but back in the day my brother and I were huge fans of the original ‘Star Trek’ there wasn’t a convention anywhere.
And now holy crap, holy every town across this country has some kind of a ‘Comicon’ happening in their towns, right now this weekend. So grown like crazy but I think it is just the explosion of we are finally letting out our freak plaque fly that we like this stuff, we like this Sci-fic horror fantasy stuff, it all has come out of shadows now. Okay to wear stupid outfits and cost plays and turn around the woods dressed as characters. I don’t know, it’s a healthy expression, it’s a healthy outlet, I have met a lot of people who have stressful jobs who go to these conventions because they can forget about being in the EMT for an weekend. Makes sense,
Beth Acamando: Remember at that first, ‘Comicon’ appearance you had that sense of the disconnect between who you were and who you are on screen was very apparent when like these guys were going, ‘Bruce, tell us what your favorite game is, what is your favorite video game’,
Bruce Campbell: Yes, I am like I don’t play any of that crap.
Beth Acamando: And I think you even scolded them for, ‘it is because of you people that I have to record like 40 different lines’ because you keep flicking,
Bruce Campbell: Oh! yes, [crosstalk] [0:34:08] to die, yes, finally I had to record stop pushing on that, there is nothing there.
Beth Acamando: Part of what you talk about in terms of like the profession of being an actor, one of the things that you mentioned was getting to become a producer on your own TV show or on a film, so what does it mean for an actor in terms of kind of controlling your career or in terms of helping your career?
Bruce Campbell: It means everything, you can easily fail as a producer too but at least you can go down sling, that is how I look at it, if you produce it you not only in on the money which you should be rightfully entitled to if you are a major part of that project because you are the face of it, you really are and you are going to promote it. Producers don’t, no one cares who produces movies, honestly, they don’t care, they don’t, hardly mind it, they only know him because of the trouble he is in. So it is a good thing to be in on it from the ground up, you get a lot more respect, you can control the material, you can be a part of the guys who, if you hire the director, that director is not going to do anything you don’t want them to do. It is kind of the bottom line and you wouldn’t hire them if you didn’t think they were competent and a good sit after having extensive meetings with them.
So you are also more invested in it when you are producer you don’t care about your trailer any more, you are not stomping around saying, ‘why are they not shooting me’ because you already know the problems because you are the producer. It is a much healthier, all in the method to go and then you are also dealing more directly with the studio, you are looking at editing, you are looking at the finished cut of the movie, you are looking at your performance and you are going, ‘hey guys don’t touch that, leave that alone, I think that works’ or ‘put that back in, I miss that’ and so I just think it is very natural progression and actors have been doing it probably since the ‘50s, really getting involved in it and they should, why not? It is not like producers know what they are doing either, half these guys are either old bean counters, attorneys, hucksters, shysters, lawyers. There aren’t a lot of producers who have great taste.
Beth Acamando: And now with ‘Ash versus Evil Dead’ do you feel you have come to a point with that show where you have kind of got this perfect balance of having control and getting a show that works and kind of gets what your character is?
Bruce: Yeah, that is why it is going to be cancelled because we finally got there. [laughing] and that will be the perfect ending to it. We are three pieces in, that is; 1, myself in the line of television is like, okay, you know you got past your rookie season, that two more in it, we think this is a really strong third season, they have moved our air date about 6 months which is not unusual these days. Everybody is trying to figure this stuff about stars included, it’s just been purchased by, ‘Lions Gate’ which will have their own agenda. So we have got to figure how we fit in their future, they know the fans are there. We have found, sadly, that our fans are actually kind of lazy and cheap, they are cheap skates, they illegally download the show, quite heavily and they don’t want to pay that $6.95 or whatever it is for the monthly thing. So we know they are not getting the immediate clicks that they need to make them feel all warm and fuzzy but I don’t know, I think these networks have to figure out gauge people because nobody is watching Live TV anymore. They are watching their Apps on the subway with their, they want their hoopa, lumpa right now and they want it on this device and I don’t want to pay really much for it.
So we are discovering our shows in the middle of everybody else who is trying to figure this out, you know we are in hundred markets around the world and the DVDs, the first season sold more DVDs than any other per season show in 5 years. So somebody is out there but what stars has to do is find out how to get these clicks, how to connect. The truth is to find out how to connect to the modern day youth who they want, they have got a way to rip movies for free, they don’t want to pay for anything anymore.
Beth Acamando: They are feeling entitled to you, you are out there.
Bruce Campbell: I got sold,
Beth Acamando: They want it now.
Bruce Campbell: They just want to give it to me now, I want it for free or if not for free for very little.
Beth Acamando: But then if you put the Blueray is a steel case, they are obsessed with collectibles.
Bruce Campbell: Thankfully that stuff will never go away which is interesting to tour with a hard cover book in the modern era where you think most people would just get the e-book with a photo heavy book like mine and e-book is actually better, you can just see all the color pictures and you can play with the font and make it as bright as you want and all that stuff. But people still at least in the fan side of it or collectors, they still want to hold that book, they still want to look at that thing that has that signature on it. So even though my e-books sales have expanded, people still want the hard cover and I suppose I still always tour to sign actual objects because they still seem to, it holds a little more resonance especially in the digital age I guess.
Beth Acamando: I want to ask about one thing in, ‘Ash versus Evil Dead’ because I love this show and I am going to have to re-watch all of them this Halloween because there is not a new one out.
Bruce Campbell: No, not until 2:25.
Beth Acamando: Damn, I was kind of it would be out for Valentine’s Day because that would make a perfect viewing opportunity but I have to say that one of the most hilarious scenes that I have ever seen, we were all like we could barely breath, we were laughing so hard was Ash ending up in the ass of a corpse
How did this come about in, how do you go in that day, going like, ‘wow! This is what I am doing today’
Bruce Campbell: Well, it is weird, we have a new, you get to a new normal, you feel a little bit like and this is a bad comparison but you feel little bit like an infantry soldier where it’s your second tour and you go yeah, seen that before, yes, right, dead guy over there, yes, right, okay’ and you – our sets, covered with blood and viscera and gore it’s really just it is another day at the office. It’s just you – and that’s how worked your life has become that that becomes normal. So but that sequence I knew would be more of a water cooler treatment though people going, ‘okay did you see the scene in Ash versus Evil Dead where his head goes up the butt. And, of course, Rod Cappard, the producer of our show and my long time partner is making the call like, ‘no we are not done yet’ he has got to finish because it was just going to be a fight with the Collin. Like punching it and it punching me and it is spinning me around, the original idea was not, that wasn’t part of the plan but Rod put a horrid, horrid twist on it like “no, if he is going up to, up the hoo-haa.” And it does makes sense that poor old Evil Dead that it would do that, it just, it is horrible as it is and it is ridiculous as there was to shoot it did make sense. And the ‘Evil Dead’ would do that, they would tall his head up a cadaver’s butt. Yes it was horrible to shoot, we kept adding to it so we had to cut, had to keep it coming back to re-do stuff to put basically the sausage had you know on top of me for shooting. They, but Rod was right, he is right because it is one of scenes that people will talk about is the head up the butt thing.
Beth Acamando: Oh! Yes.
Bruce Campbell: Yes.
Beth Acamando: Now that you are facing the 3rd season of ‘Ash versus Evil Dead” what can you possibly do to top yourself?
Bruce Campbell: Well, we try not to play that game, we are trying not to do anymore up the poopers scenes that we sort of, I think, hit a wonderful plateau there but the trick now is where is the story going? Ash is not just an idiot who is in the trailer park with that personal habit, he is a guy who is foretold in an ancient book. He has an image in an old Viam so who is he, why him, what is his mission? So we are doing little more Joseph Campbell this year, the family has expanded, Ash finds that he has a daughter, unruly teenage daughter and so write it possibly the worst time he has to not only save the world but he has to raise a daughter and try and attempt to be a good father in the midst of all this. And to me there is nothing better than to throw the hero into that, to force him to try and to force Bob Hope to try and deal with the situation poorly, very poorly but at the end of the day I feel, we always play Ash that he would, he has to come through. He has to, Ash is one of the rare good guys in this whole world and that’s why I think people are going to root for him because he is the good guy at the end of the day. He is poor role model but he is a good dude at the end of the day, he will try hard even if he is knocked down 10 times.
Beth; You mentioned in the book the sense of the exhilaration versus pain in the ass of little budget film making what is, for people who may not know what that process is like, what is that contrast like?
Bruce Campbell: It is speed balling, it is heroin and cocaine at the same time, working in, first day and Sophia Bulgaria when you drive around, my job was just open because it was the strangest collision of cultures I have ever seen of fallen Soviet Union after long occupation it had rushing in feeling but it wasn’t a rush and they were embracing capitalism but they didn’t even know how to do it, really. And we were there randomly because of Sci-fi channel, that is where they shot the stuff, it just didn’t make any sense, my movie was set in east LA at the beginning of this prep period. So you get there and you go, ‘okay’ this will never, I can never fake this east LA, we don’t have the money so your meetings are how do we take the resources that we have and make, and work the story because we are not going to work the background. We are not changing Sophia, it is what it is these are Russians SUVs driving around there, a little German papier-mâché coated cars that sound like weed [inaudible] [0:45:03]. They were like two cylinder engines, nothing looked like American, anything. So that was part of the fun and exhilaration of going. We have to completely change this concept before we start shooting in order to make this happen. And so the cool thing is we were sort of empowered to do that I finally talked to Sci-fi channel into letting us say that he is in Bulgaria, just let us stay at, that way we can shoot everything as it is all the wording is [indiscernible] [0:45:32] like giant Russian statues everywhere like, ‘why don’t we just embrace that?’ And make it a fish out of water story which is what it was. So we just adapted it, so it was half pain in the ass but half exhilarating because that’s the [inaudible] [0:45:48] making that it is almost all I have ever known from the first Evil Dead on is making weird movies catches cat scan and sometimes they catch and sometimes they really implode.
Beth Acamando: Alright, well I know you probably have lots of other things to attend to. So I thank you very much for taking some time out.
Bruce Campbell: Alright, thank you for your time as well and I will talk to you again in 15 years when I do the final confession, of a B movie actor.
Beth Acamando: That was actor-producer and author Bruce Campbell. His new book, ‘Hail to the Chin’ just came out, the third season of the, ‘Ash versus Evil Dead’ as I mentioned earlier will premier in February. Thanks for listening to another edition of listener supported KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast. If you enjoyed this podcast, then all I ask is that you tell one friend to take a listen as well, a personal recommendation from you is the best way to spread the word about main lining film of cinema junkie. Coming up next will be an interview with maverick film maker Larry Collin who gave us, ‘It’s a life”, “The Stuff” and ‘Q - The winged Serpent’. There is a new documentary about him called, ‘King Collin’. Till our next film fix I am Beth Amcoundo, your resident cinema junkie.
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place