THE CULT OF BRUCE CAMPBELL
The Exclusive retroCRUSH Interview With The King of Cult

Bruce Campbell is one of those actors who's impossible to hate. When you look at his trademark chiseled jaw, it's hard to wonder why the folks at Warner Brothers never cast the guy as Batman. Through The Evil Dead films, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and  numerous appearances in other movies, Campbell's quirky cool personality makes you wonder if he was genetically engineered with the DNA of Elvis, The Three Stooges, and Clint Eastwood. Whatever it is that makes him go, he's worshipped by a rabid Cult of Bruce that have elevated him to levels of cool that perhaps only Christopher Walken can match.

I was able to share time with Bruce at a recent book signing and screening of The Evil Dead 2. As the final showcase of the First Annual Trash Film Orgy at Sacramento's famous Crest Theater, the event drew over a thousand fans and sold the place out hours before show time. With the die-hard fans waiting hours to sit with Bruce for a minute, get some autographs, and have a few pictures snapped, it was easy to see that people love the hell out of this guy.

I've been to plenty of celebrity autograph signings where they herd you through like zombie cattle, and the guy barely looks up at you after scribbling their name in a jiffy. Not so with Campbell. He took time to ask questions to the fans, permitted a little chit-chat, and posed for countless goofy ass pictures as enthusiastically with the last as he did with the first.  It's Not an efficient way to get autographs done on a tight schedule, but when he told the crowd that he'd stay as late as he needed to get everyone, and offered to sign books that people left behind if they had to leave early, you had to tip your hat to the guy.

Bruce Campbell loves his fans, and they love him.

A genuinely funny guy, Bruce kicked things off with some Q&A from the audience. Aside from the expected "When you gonna make Evil Dead 4?", "Is Kevin Sorbo gay?" and "Why did Jack of All Trades Get Canceled" (cause nobody watched it),  there was some totally fun and hilarious ones that were exchanged.  Quick on his feet, Bruce was able to roll with some pretty off the wall ones, as well.

When a woman asked if she could make out with him, he remarked, "I don't think your on the list my wife made of approved girls I'm allowed to kiss." And after being asked what his favorite color was, he replied, "Yellow...jeez, good thing there's a lot of pictures in my book for this Sacramento crowd!"

After a heckler teased him about being in Congo, Bruce turned the tables on him and said, "OK, smart guy. Listen here. Let's say you get offered a project written by Michael Crichton and has the cinematographer from Steven Spielberg's movies" and rattled off other impressive credits, "would you take the part? Of course you would!" to the cheers of the crowd.

In a situation reminiscent of the Simpsons episode where Homer answers fan questions at an Itchy and Scratchy panel, one guys held up the Hail to The King videogame, and asked Bruce, "How do you find the bug spray in this game?"  Bruce said while filming the upcoming Servicing Sara Matthew Perry would tease him, "Man...this game sucks, cause it's too hard!"  To which Bruce replied, "Well maybe it's just because you suck at it.  When Bruce was impressed that Perry managed to find a PS2 when they were in short supply, Perry bragged that he had SEVEN of them.  

When asked about his role in Spider-Man, Bruce replied, "I have a very small part, as a wrestling announcer, but it's the most important part in the movie, because my character gets to come up with his name. He comes to the ring with this really awful name, so I decide that he'd be better off called "Spider-Man".


He talked about his upcoming film Bubba Ho-Tep where he plays an aging Elvis who's stuck in a retirement home who becomes friends with Ossie Davis who's convinced that he's Jack Kennedy, but was dyed black and brainwashed. But that's not the only trouble. JFK is convinced that an ancient Mummy is coming into the home at night and killing off its residents. When it turns out that he's right, about everything, the unlikely duo end up having quite a bizarre adventure.

Bruce also beamed with pride about his book, and rightfully so as it's a great read. Impressively peaking at #19 on the New York Times Bestseller list, he's come a long way from chopping his hand off with a chainsaw for kicks.

But Bruce hasn't forgotten that people love the groovy chainsaw. Sacramento stand-up comedian, and Trash Film Orgy host, Keith Lowell Jensen, helped give everyone a big treat when he brought Bruce on stage for some more fun right before Evil Dead 2 started. After introducing Campbell to insane applause, he took the stage with someone else dressed as Ash in full Army of Darkness attire. Keith told the crowd that he wasn't sure which one was the real Bruce Campbell, and after picking the wrong one and telling Bruce to take a hike, Campbell pulled out a trick knife and gutted the fake Ash on stage with blood and bowels flying out galore. As the cheers subsided, Bruce then did another Q&A with the corpse at his feet.

Bruce also took time to let a fan come on stage to see if his chin was real.

With Bruce there 'til midnight, and only 30 minutes to eat dinner in his dressing room (while being interviewed by a TV crew on top of that), I only had time to ask him a couple questions in person, but he graciously agreed to handle a few more via email for retroCRUSH exclusively. I tried to avoid the usual Evil Dead questions he's been asked a million times already, but if you really want to hear about those you can always check out his website (bruce-campbell.com) and see plenty. Just look at the top toolbar under "EVERYTHING EVIL", and trust me, you'll learn more about those films than you ever wanted to.

retroCRUSH: So what was it like working with Herbie The Love Bug?

BRUCE: (laughs) Herbie was great. I really liked working with Dean Jones and loved all of those Disney movies he was in growing up. You know once in Arizona, I ran into this guy who had a Love Bug. And he says, "Bruce...look!" And I said, "Wow, that's a good looking Herbie." He replied, "No...this just isn't a Herbie, it's THE Herbie. The one you drove in the movie." He wanted me to sign his dashboard, it was pretty funny."

retroCRUSH: How jarringly different of an experience is it to work on a self-produced project like The Evil Dead, versus a Disney film like The Love Bug remake?

BRUCE: Night and day. We were making it up as we went along on Evil Dead with no unions, etc. Disney, on the other hand, is a well-oiled, multi-national machine. It's fun to see how different two movie sets can be.

retroCRUSH: The photos you collected for this book alone are incredibly extensive. How much work was it to get all of that together?

BRUCE: As much as you can imagine. Because the rights were such a nightmare, I wound up taking a bunch of photos myself, which made it much more reasonable. It was more about assembling the hundreds of photos I had access to and figuring out where to put them. CDs and e-mail really helped.

retroCRUSH: The Evil Dead trilogy has become an important piece of world zombie film culture, alongside George Romero's Living Dead series. Why do you think there's such a long term appeal to zombie films?

BRUCE: I think fans like the "monster movie" aspect of zombies. They also like stuff that sends them scurrying under the couch - it's just human nature - it's like a roller coaster ride or anything else that horrifies and thrills at the same time.

retroCRUSH: We learn a lot about the films you and Sam Raimi made on Super 8 in your early years. How do you think the increased use of camcorders has made it for budding filmmakers?

BRUCE: It's made it too damn easy! I am glad that every day folks can now run to Best Buy and get enough digital stuff to make a film, but anyone who is serious about making films still has to learn their craft - let's not forget that...

retroCRUSH: Do you think we'll ever see some of those Super 8 movies you made with Sam released on video?

BRUCE: Would you release the first picture you ever took on your website?
retroCRUSH: (laughs) Yes!

BRUCE: Seriously, they're pretty choppy and the main problem is that we used music in them that we didn't really have the rights to, so we're not legally allowed to do it anyway. But they're out there on bootleg if you really need to see them.

retroCRUSH: What are some of your dream film roles that you've always wanted to play?

BRUCE: I don't have one. Never did. I try and make anything I do the best that it can be. I try not to live in a "what if" world.

retroCRUSH: It's great that you've made a documentary about fandom (Fanalysis, which Bruce is showing on his book signing tour and convention appearances). What's one of your more unusual experiences with a Bruce Campbell fan?

BRUCE: Well, now that Evil Dead seems to be firmly ingrained in cult films lovers, I've seen Ash tattoos, met kids named after the character, and had fans follow me from city to city on the book tour. Fear not, no restraining orders have been issued...yet...



-Robert Berry
webmaster@retrocrush.com