Bruce Campbell is a legend in the B Cinematic pantheon who lives alongside such giants as Vincent Price and Christopher Lee in a place of honor. Imagine if you will, a B-Movie Valhalla where this Hawaiian shirt clad, chainsaw wielding madman is presiding over all like a pun-spewing Odin. My first encounter with Bruce Campbell was through his starring role in the short-lived Brisco County Jr. and again in both Hercules and Xena as Autolycus. It was only in the late 90’s when I first stumbled across Army of Darkness and the incredible universe of the Evil Dead films. Watching the physical abuse that he takes (both imaginary and very real) while pulling off this sleazy but loveable hero full of one-liners and quips spoke to me on a deeply personal level. I’d much rather laugh my way out of a situation than end up having to fight with anyone, especially havoc-spreading, soul-swallowing, corpse-stealing Kandarian demons. It was the reluctantly time warped Ash who made me fall in love with horror as a genre, reaching out to both the imaginatively twisted as well as sarcastic sides of my nature and inspired me into my career as a horror/comedy writer. So, let’s take a look at the fake blood saturated career of the one and only Bruce Campbell. Bruce Campbell started off his film career working for his childhood friend, and often tormentor, Sam Raimi. They’ve had a long and storied history together that started with Super-8 short films including a little piece called Within the Woods. Within the Woods took elements of the story they were actually wanting to tell and presented them to investors for a feature-length project that they and Rob Tapert (another friend) wanted to make called The Evil Dead. I’m not going into a whole long biography for you. If you want to know all the sordid details of his life and his friendship, buy a copy of his book If Chins Could Kill. (Even if you don’t, go and pick it up because it’s actually a pretty interesting autobiography.) Now, back to Evil Dead. This particular film, more than any, holds a special place in my heart because it is a classic, made, in large part, right here in Tennessee in a cabin with some strange, haunted history behind it. Knowing that I had been in those woods, had wandered through that foliage in my childhood and even now on autumn hikes, then thinking about the strange, otherworldly mist and the monsters lurking inside literally sends chills down my spine. No, it wasn’t the big budget, CGI and action extravaganza that most horror films have become in the 35+ years since it was first released, but it had heart, a decent story, and some truly creepy and gruesome moments. For those of you who have never watched Evil Dead, let me give you a brief run down. Five college kids travel to an old cabin the hills of Tennessee for some much-needed rest and relaxation. Ashley (or Ash), his girlfriend Linda, sister Cheryl, best friend Scotty, and Scott’s girlfriend Shelly plan a nice getaway for themselves. During their first night, they discover a hidden root cellar and some strange artifacts belonging to the former owners of the cabin, who were apparently archaeologists. Playing translations dictated on a tape recorder of the strange book they found in the cellar (Naturom Demonte, later Necronomicon ex Mortis) they awaken ancient demons who, one by one, possess, maim, and torture the vacationers until only Ash is left alive. This formula is later refined in Evil Dead II and further explored in the new series Ash vs Evil Dead. This movie was revolutionary in 1981 when it was released for the sheer amount of gore and body mutilation it brought to the screen. Literally gallons of fake blood along with some horrifically memorable and outright creepy moments. Thinking of Linda sweetly singing “We’re going to get you” to Ash as a demon possessed Cheryl looks on from the cellar with a sort of mesmerized awe still makes me cringe. Some celebrities find themselves pigeon-holed, type-cast as certain characters and Bruce Campbell is no exception. Whether he’s Sam Axe in Burn Notice, Ashley Williams in Ash vs Evil Dead or even Ronald Reagan in Fargo, you can expect his trademark wise-cracking, quasi-coward sleaze with his game show host good looks and toothy grin. He brings a sort of loveable charm to otherwise egotistical and unlikeable characters that makes him impossible not to love on screen. While some actors struggle to escape these kinds of roles (i.e., almost the entire cast of the original Star Trek) Bruce Campbell has come to embrace it, making himself a pop culture icon over the last fifteen years. He’s become the poster child for the B-movie revival with titles including Alien Apocalypse, Man with the Screaming Brain, Bubba Ho-tep, and My Name is Bruce. But embracing his place as one of the Titans of schlock cinema isn’t enough. No. He embraces his fans just as much as the characters he brings to life, making appearances at various conventions and events and reveling in this hilariously egotistical alter ego he’s formed. I got a chance to meet him during his book tour for Make Love* (*The Bruce Campbell Way) in 2005. For a man who chooses to drive more often than fly, and being on the road for quite a while by the time he hit Tennessee, he was friendly, funny, and eager to meet the fans, signing books, shirts, and VHS and DVD copies of his films. Bruce Campbell is an actor truly worthy of giving some time to this Halloween season. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. Dan’s Top Ten B.C. Movies Evil Dead Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn Army of Darkness Bubba Ho-Tep Ash vs Evil Dead Maniac Cop Burn Notice My Name is Bruce Man with the Screaming Brain Maniac Cop 2 See larger image Ash vs Evil Dead – The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] “Ash vs Evil Dead,” a 10-episode, half-hour series, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. The series follows Ash, the stock boy, aging lothario and chainsaw-handed monster hunter who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead. When a Deadite plague threatens to destroy all of mankind, Ash is finally forced to face his demons –personal and literal. Destiny, it turns out, has no plans to release the unlikely hero from its “Evil” grip. The cast is led by Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, Lucy Lawless as Ruby a mysterious figure who believes Ash is the cause of the Evil outbreaks, Ray Santiago as Pablo Simon Bolivar, an idealistic immigrant who becomes Ash’s loyal sidekick, Dana DeLorenzo as Kelly Maxwell, a moody wild child trying to outrun her past and Jill Marie Jones as Amanda Fisher, a disgraced Michigan State Trooper set to find our anti-hero Ash and prove his responsibility in the grisly murder of her partner. The series is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio (“Chuck”), who serves as executive producer and showrunner. New From: $12.99 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related One Response ABCs of Horror 2016 Day 5: C is for Don Coscarelli - Psycho Drive-In October 5, 2016 […] by American Treasure Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-Tep stars superstar Bruce Campbell (already profiled here) as an elderly Elvis and Ossie Davis as Jack (who claims to be JFK, dyed black and abandoned in the […] Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.