Monday, February 22, 2010

The Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is a cult film star and counterculture icon. He may be best known for portraying "Ash", the chainsaw weilding, one liner spewing lovable goofball facing the grotesque hordes of the damned in Ted Raimi's "the Evil Dead" and it's subsequent sequals Evil Dead 2 and The Army Of Darkness. Those three roles alone would've cemented his place in horror history but those were just the beginning, from there Bruce forged his own path through cinema and television starring in such 80's films like Maniac Cop, Crimewave and Mindwarp along with the appearances on shows like "American Gothic", "Law and Order", "Homicide", and "Weird Science." His choice of roles and performances have always been fascinating to me. "Brisco County Jr" was the short lived sci-fi western that perfectly seemed to express the whole Bruce Campbell vibe.

He's played a geriatric Elvis in "Bubba Ho-Tep", a film about demon mummy terrorizing an old folks home, and also made cameo appearances in all three of Sam Raimi's Spiderman flicks. He's been on Xena and Hercules and even directed the series finale. He's written an autobiography about his career titled "If Chins Could Kill; Confessions of a B- Movie actor" and a second book entitled "Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way". Bruce's own filmmaking is also pretty kooky, "The Man With The Screaming Brain" was filmed in Bulgaria and features gypsies, murder and brain surgery. He's even been immortalized in comic book form in the ultra mashup "Freddy Vs Jason Vs Ash" and the "Marvel Zombies Vs Army of Darkness". You can currently see him on USA Networks sexy spy drama Burn Notice where he plays Sam Axe.

Another notable release was "Fanalysis", a documentary about those obsessive and eccentric Bruce Campbell fans and conventions. The film is a great window into that world of fandom and cosplay, with great cameos from revered characters like Mewtwo, Omega Red, Boba Fett, Darth Maul, Stormtroopers and one very dedicated Xena clone. One section showed the "Bruce Booth" where fans would buy photos, high quality glossy headshots, of Bruce, with or without a mustache, a little something for everyone. Meeting so many dedicated fans has left a profound impact on Bruce, "I have learned that fans come in every shape, size and disposition. Fans are rich, poor, young, old - it's all over the map. My fans mostly have taught me where and where NOT to get a tattoo."

So, when it finally came down to hit up Bruce about the interview I was suprised to hear that not only would the interview by email, but it would only be ten questions. No big deal I thought, I'll ask him ten really good questions and just be happy to have the experience. But what experience? Trading email vollys with a legend for an end product that absolutely fails to inform or move me to do anything. I felt like a kid finding out Santa Claus had just shit in his cereal, but Bruce isn't Santa Claus, he's just a man, and probably really busy. I begrudgingly accepted this and typed up my ten questions. Dang.

One thing I'd always wondered about Bruce was what he did in his free time, was he a swashbuckling hero? Did he run around fighting real life zombies and saving damsels in distress? Of course not, but I always find it interesting to know what people are really like when I interview them. I don't like to play by the rules, self expression is key and the message is the medium, ten brief questions or not, there was definitely a story there. "I'm an avid hiker, so I explored many parts of my home state of Oregon this past fall." Bruce replyed, "There is nothing quite like swimming in a wilderness lake. Aside from that, I had the privilege of visiting troops in Iraq and seeing the wounded at Walter Reed hospital. That was a special trip along with Jeffrey Donovan, the star of Burn Notice. I also had a wicked road trip through northwest Nevada and joined the Elks last week! It's been a great break from filming and I get back to work on season 4 mid March in Miami."

Recently on an episode of Saturday Night Live, Ashton Kutcher hosted and appeared in a sketch was about how despite Burn Notice received great reviews and was in it's fourth season, nobody knew what the show was about. I thought the sketch was random as hell, but interesting to note, I was waiting for someone to go "Bruce Campbell's on that show!" Alas. Next I asked him what his future goals were. "At this point, it's all about doing stuff that's enjoyable and creatively fulfilling. I'm hoping to finish a long run of Burn Notice, then settle into Oregon filmmaking on a long term basis, and crank out a film out every couple years."

Bruce's contributions to filmmaking extend even further, his book If Chins Could Kill shared a bevy of knowledge on the side of Hollywood that most people don't care to notice. On Bruce's website he shares his wisdom with articles like "Shun Society, Be a Screenwriter" and "So You Wanna Be A Filmmaker Eh?" Bruce gives priceless advice like "Getting 40 set-ups in a day isn't always the goal. It isn't a contest - 40 shots of what? And how rushed do you have to be to get that? How about 20, really good, planned out shots? making the film shouldn't be a zoo, unless your producers are idiots."

During a 2006 appearance on IFC's Dinner For Five featuring Bruce, Rob Zombie, Roger Corman, Faizon Love and Jon Favreau, Bruce shares some important info on the business and legal sides of filmmaking that were really refreshing to hear address. On that show, sitting there with his contempories Bruce discusses investors and some things aspiring filmmakers would have to handle besides just making a movie. His opinion hasn't changed, "It's still the same. You often still have to deal with banks and investors - not to mention lawyers and studio execs - when you make professional films, so a little business background wouldn't kill you."

Finally nearing the end of the interview, I asked Bruce one last question about how he feels about the state of horror films and the future of 3D movies. "Hey, as long as the movie is good, the format is irrelevant. But if the movie sucks, you can put all the lipstick you want on that pig. Horror needs to abandon torture porn and get back to being a fun thrill ride. I think Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell was a good example of where horror needs to be."


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home