Bruce Campbell interview: Evil Dead, being ordained, making bombs

In the run-up to the release of the new Evil Dead, Sarah got to talk to a true horror legend: the groovy Bruce Campbell...

What can I tell you about Bruce Campbell? He’s a cult movie icon, the kind of actor who inspires people to get really, really enthusiastic about him and his projects. It helps that he always seems so incredibly enthusiastic himself, and takes a lot of fannish weirdness completely in his stride.

Ahead of the release of the new Evil Dead movie, which he produced, we caught up with him for a very brief chat that quickly got into some rather odd territory…

It’s been more than 20 years since the last Evil Dead movie – how does it feel to be promoting a new Evil Dead movie after all that time?

It feels good! I’m very happy that a new one came out. It wouldn’t feel good if we were unsatisfied with the movie, but we’re all pretty excited.

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You’re still very much associated with your role in Evil Dead. What does the franchise mean to you?

Well, it’s how I got into the film business, so it means a lot to me. We want fans to know that this remake isn’t something we did lightly. It’s not something we planned all along; it kinda came out of nowhere, but we had a filmmaker, Fede Alvarez, who pitched a take on it that will allow him to make Evil Dead movies, and will allow us to make Evil Dead movies with the Ash character if we want to. 

I was going to ask you about that: Sam Raimi has said that he’s going to be writing a new Evil Dead movie this summer…

Yeah, that’s what he’s threatening to do, but he says that a lot. It may happen! Who knows? If there’s enough of a resurgence of interest in Evil Dead then we may be able to make it.

And you’d be on board if that happened?

Oh, sure. I’ll put my walker down, hobble over, and pick up that chainsaw.

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I’m sure things aren’t that bad! Making the first Evil Dead was famously quite a physical ordeal for you, did you feel like you had to put the new cast through a similar wringer?

Well, it’s not that we had to, but the nature of the Evil Dead movies is that they’re very physically punishing. They’re very extreme, because you’re getting beaten up by monsters, you’re getting possessed, you’re losing limbs… it’s all very troublesome for these actors. So I tried to warn them, and we tried to hire actors that could take it.

Was that part of the audition process then?

Yeah, it was. We were asking them specifically if they’ve had experience with extensive make up effects before, because people sometimes are allergic to it, or they’re claustrophobic, and they can’t handle it. Our lead actress was buried alive at one point – have you ever been buried alive?

I can’t imagine many people could say yes to that.

No, not many people, so that’s why you have to be very particular about who you cast in these movies.

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It is a very violent film. Did you struggle to get the R-rating you wanted?

Surprisingly, no. We thought we were going to have a problem because, you know, Army Of Darkness had talking skeletons and it got an NC-17 the first time, and we had to submit it multiple times. This one wasn’t as bad – I think the MPAA understood that the carnage and the mayhem was exuberant, it wasn’t depressing. It’s a strange thing to say but I think there’s actually a difference.

Horror has changed a lot since the 80s, too, and it’s become more over the top in general…

Yeah, horror has become more over the top. 

Are you a fan of the genre?

I’m a fan of movies that are good, I don’t care what the genre is. But if you make a horror movie, you’d better try to scare me! It’s not so much about gore, you have to take me on a journey, and hopefully this one does.

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You’ve offered to reimburse the first person to get an Evil Dead remake tattoo – has that happened yet?

Someone has yet to stick a tattoo in my face. But when they do, yes, I will pay for it.

You’re a collector of pictures of Evil Dead tattoos, right?

Yeah, I have about 120 of them. Some of them are extensive.

What’s it like seeing your face tattooed on someone?

It’s fantastic. My father would be very proud! My father was in the advertising business, and he would say that it’s free advertising.

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You’ve become a real genre icon thanks to this franchise. What’s the strangest thing you’ve done as a result?

I married a zombie couple. I was ordained as a minister and I married a couple where the guy was a zombie and the woman was a pregnant bride, but a zombie bride, and a demon baby was coming out of her belly.

I thought it was just a kooky couple, and their families wouldn’t be into it, but one of the people getting married, their father could not sit down because he was a character who had been impaled on a spike, and it went in the middle of his chest and came out of the back, so he couldn’t sit down anywhere. So that was pretty weird.

So, wait, you’ve been ordained? You can marry people, if the need arises?

I can marry people, yep.

Cool! So, a while ago, you were talking about doing an Expendables style movie with other horror legends. Is that still something you’re planning to do?

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One day, eventually. We were working on a script that just stunk, so until we can fix the script, there’s nothing we can do about it. But yeah, I’d like to do the horror answer to The Expendables. I think it’d be great to get Robert Englund, and Kane Hodder, and have all these guys playing against type. I’d give them have silly accents and funny moustaches and I would just have fun with it.

Which lines from your movies do you find people quote at you in the street most often?

Probably “give me some sugar, baby.” Or “hail to the King, baby.” Army Of Darkness is the most quotable movie.

Are you planning to write any more books?

Yeah, there’s my third book – we’re fiddling with the title, but it’ll be “The Further Adventures…” you know, “Chins Around The World…” It’s sort of a travel book, only it’s while I’m making carnage and mayhem movies. 

Finally – you starred in Burn Notice. Were the stunts and effects on that show accurate, and if so, does that mean you know how to make a bomb?

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I do not know how to make a bomb, no. Both of my older brothers know how to make bombs, but that’s just because they’re crazy. On Burn Notice, we always leave out one or two ingredients, just so that if you tried to copy it, you couldn’t do it quite right.

Bruce Campbell, thank you very much!

Evil Dead is released in UK cinemas on 18 April.

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