Henry Northmore catches up with the legend that is Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell is the unrepentant king of the Bs. He burst onto the world of underground cinema with the ultimate video nasty, The Evil Dead, its two sequels, and a string of unacknowledged classics such as Maniac Cop, Crimewave, Man With the Screaming Brain and Bubba Ho-tep. ‘I don’t apologise for B-movies anymore,’ explains Campbell, ‘because all the A-movies are B-movies. Spider-Man is the ultimate B-movie – a guy gets bitten by a radioactive spider, that’s a 1950s B-movie,’ he laughs.
Now he’s back and revelling in his Bruce-ness with My Name is Bruce, playing a warped version of himself, a washed-up actor making direct to video horror and sci-fi movies only to be kidnapped by his biggest fan in an attempt to save a town from a vicious Chinese ghost. It’s a postmodern, self-referential farce. ‘It’s like The Changeling but more serious,’ he laughs. Not only does it star Bruce Campbell as Bruce Campbell, he also took on the directing reins, revelling in the autonomy smaller independent filmmaking offers. ‘It was shot on my property. It was all about creative freedom, I don’t want ten executives sitting twiddling their thumbs and looking over my shoulder at the shots.’
It was 1981’s Evil Dead that made Campbell a cult hero. It’s a gut shot of gore, adrenalised directing and the fearless mugging of its star, Ashley J Williams (as played by Campbell), directed by good friend Sam Raimi, who is now more famous for directing the aforementioned Spider-Man films (which all feature a cameo from a certain Mr Campbell). But surely the question on every fan’s lips is: will there be an Evil Dead 4? ‘We have a lot of affection for those films but Army of Darkness was 18 years ago now, so you’d have thought that if we were going to do it we’d have done it by now. Our biggest concern is that it’ll disappoint. I mean, how many people really wanted Indiana Jones 4? That movie was forced down people’s throats. It’s not like Evil Dead was designed as some George Lucas-style 18-part huge story that unfolds over 15 years. We were never supposed to do the second one. Ash is dead at the end of the first one, but our second movie bombed so we thought, “We want to do another movie, let’s do another Evil Dead, we’ll figure out a way to bring him back”.’
My Name is Bruce (Anchor Bay) is available on DVD from Mon 2 Mar.