BRUCE CAMPBELL: DEFENDER OF B-MOVIES

While on tour for his first book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Campbell often took time to expound on Bubba’s worthiness to fans (many of whom were already in the know, thanks to obsessive internet-scouring). Campbell’s fans are loyal, and if any voices reach Hollywood to implore the powers there to distribute Bubba, they will come from the throats of the fans. It was the power of his followers that allowed sales of Confessions to far exceed publisher’s expectations. The hardcover edition of the book alone went into ten printings.

(Tours are long, arduous things, however. In fact, our conversation was held over Campbell’s cell phone as he drove to Kansas City for yet another stop along the way. “I’ve got about four cities to go before I get to go home for a whole day,” he says. “I’m the Willy Loman of book sales. Stephen King doesn’t have to do ‘Boo’ to sell a lot of books. He’s a myth; he’s a god-like creature of publishing. For a guy like me, this is still the tail end of my first book and failure was not an option. I want to be able to write as one of my little outlets. And if you screw up, I know from being in movies, if you screw up your first movie, you may never get to make another one. So I’m trying to make this one work, and now I have a deal to do another book. I guess this one did work.”

The next book, by the way, will be called Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way. “It’s a non-Ph.D., non-Dr. Phil relationship book. There will be no experts involved in the making of the book. I don’t think it boils down to (pretentious voice) “Ten Steps to a Great Relationship!” I don’t buy that. It’s a counter-culture relationship book. We’ll make fun of comb-overs, and Viagra and Propecia and shit like that.”)

On the downside, it is Campbell’s Internet fanbase that keep rumors flowing. His listing on the seldom-reliable Internet Movie Database abounds with inaccuracies, movies that may never be made attributing him to starring or featured roles. It was the Internet that kept the rumor high of Campbell starring as “The Lizard” in “Spider-Man II” – he’s not, by the way – though there is every possibility that he will indeed appear in the eagerly awaited sequel. “Sam is knee-deep in ‘Spider-Man II,’ and I may have a part in it, but at this point I don’t even know. Sam might just call up and say ‘Hey, you wanna get hit by a bus?’ I’ll be ‘Yeah, let’s go’, and that’s how it’s going to work.”

As for other things, Campbell amiably offers to dispel one particular nagging tale. There’s the matter of, for instance, the much-anticipated ‘final chapter’ to Coscarelli’s popular “Phantasm” series. The IMDB has Campbell listed as possibly appearing in this film, known there as “Phantasm’s End.” “They don’t have the money for it,” Campbell says, referring to the production team headed primarily by Coscarelli himself. “Roger Avary (“Killing Zoe”) wrote a cool script, and it is available, Don wants to do it – everyone wants to do it. Unfortunately, it got posted on the IMDB way too prematurely. It just has become urban legend now. Don will (do it), though! I think he got side-tracked by Bubba.”

Campbell loves his fans right back, though, and is endlessly fascinated by them. So much so that he was inspired to do a documentary on conventioneers in a short documentary called FANALYSIS, which can be found as an extra in Anchor Bay’s deluxe release of “The Evil Dead.” “Most people were pretty amused,” he says of the reaction to the piece. “The people who are the hardcore fans, it’s a little too on-the-nose for them. The ones who enjoy it more are the more casual fans. Because then they feel that they’re a little more removed, they don’t actually know the conventions you’re talking about. But there are the fans that know every convention I talk about, have been there themselves; they were probably there when I was shooting this thing. For those people, it probably wasn’t as funny. And look, even the hardcore fans cringe when they see a woman legally renaming herself ‘Xena’. And having ten thousand dollars worth of surgery to look more like ‘Xena’. But the idea wasn’t to make fun of these people; the idea was to turn the camera around and say ‘What’s the deal, man?’”

And while his fans are loyal, they can often be quite unforgiving. Campbell himself will admit to being in some lame-duck movies – he’s quite vocal about the Matthew Perry bomb, “Serving Sara,” though he speaks highly of the production and of the director, Reginald Hudlin, who tried his best to keep the sets light and make sure his actors were taken care of.

“Each (movie I work on) I see it as a case-by-case basis. On paper, ‘Congo’ looked like a tremendously good idea. I mean, it did. It was a Michael Crichton book, John Patrick Shanley adaptation; Anne V. Coates – the woman who cut “Lawrence of Arabia” – was cutting it. On and on – it was like, ‘Of course!’ It was no wonder it got made. It was the only Crichton book I’d ever read and I thought it would make a great movie! I jumped all over it and it just turned out poorly. It actually made money, but a lot of people felt duped that it was trying to be a big Hollywood movie that didn’t quite pull it off. The over-all point is, whether it’s a ‘Congo,’ or a ‘McHale’s Navy,’ or whatever it is that people don’t like, a lot of times, going in, it seems like a smart thing. But I don’t really make decisions based on career. I thought ‘Hey, “Congo,” big movie’. I went in to meet Frank Marshall, I was trying to get the lead in the movie, but that wasn’t going to happen. Frank called me up later and said, ‘Hey, you want this part?’ I said, ‘Yeah!’ You get the consolation prize. I got the scream that was in all the Taco Bell ads.”

Get the rest of the interview in part four of BRUCE CAMPBELL: DEFENDER OF B-MOVIES>>>




Posted on August 4, 2003 in Interviews by
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