An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.
By Johnny Apocalypse
Throughout the course of film history, there have been actors constantly overlooked by the crowds simply because their work doesn’t fit into the masterful, dramatic roles of the Oscar winners. Kurt Russell gave Academy Award worthy performances in "Breakdown" and "Dark Blue", but is consistently ignored due to the fact that action-role actors normally don’t get awards. And where is Bruce Willis’s Oscar? He should at least have gotten nominated for "The Sixth Sense" instead of that punk kid, Haley Joel Osment. But no, John McClane won’t be getting his golden statue for years to come.
And then there’s Bruce Campbell.
Campbell is the star of numerous B-movies, cult films and short-lived TV shows, classics such as The Evil Dead trilogy, "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." and "Alien Apocalypse." Okay, so maybe "Apocalypse" isn’t a classic, but Campbell’s performance in the film is classic of his style. So when will Campbell receive his over-due Oscar? If "Evil Dead" protagonist Ash doesn’t deserve special recognition for taking out ghastly demons three times, then why does Kevin Spacey get recognized for "American Beauty"? Simple: if you fell asleep during a movie, it must have won an Oscar.
I had the chance to meet Mr. Campbell once when he was doing a book signing tour for his auto-biography, "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor." He appeared at the local Tattered Cover, read an excerpt from his tome, answered questions, cracked some jokes and gave about two-hundred drooling fans his autograph. Myself and an old lady next to me were the only ones not drooling, just to be clear.
When I got the chance to sit back with Bruce Campbell while he signed my book, I couldn’t think of anything to say. I guess I was a little more star-struck then I like to admit, but he asked me what I did for a living, and I answered that I was working at a Hispanic restaurant and had just joined the Army. He thanked me for serving our country, told me his brother was a military man as well, and then he checked out my girlfriend. That’s right, you read correctly: Bruce Campbell checked out my girlfriend! That was one hell of an ego boost for her.
In his autobiography, Campbell speaks of his humble beginnings in Detroit, his home town. He mentions a few of his childhood memories, talks about meeting Sam Raimi and making short, silly little films on an 8mm camera. His acting career began right then and there, at an early age, and has gone nowhere but up since. Well, if you consider being in more cult films then Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee moving up in the film industry.
All of his early acting was collaborating with Raimi on short films that may be lost forever, such as "It’s Murder!" and "Within the Woods." I am told that a few prints of "Woods" still exist, but I’ve never seen any on eBay, so I’m judging that one to be an urban legend.
Sam Raimi then decided to make a full-length film that would be called "Book of the Dead." Campbell gives the story of "Book’s" production, from getting the financing through filming and the many difficulties the production crew faced along the way. Finally, after a title change and many months of living in a broken down cabin, "The Evil Dead" was born.
In the interests of keeping this article somewhat brief, I’m not going to complete Campbell’s biography here. Pick up a copy of Confessions and you can read the rest yourself.
In preparation for this article, I tried to e-mail Mr. Campbell for a short interview. Either he never read my e-mail or blew it off, so I’m going to make a fake interview so everyone can see how it would have gone.
Me: Glad you could take the time for this interview, Mr. Campbell.
BC: Thanks for having me on the show.
Me: Uh, this isn’t a show. It’s going to be an article on Acid Logic.
BC: What? Then why the hell is there an audience?
Me: I would guess these are some of your obsessed fans that broke into my house. I'd have thought you would be used to them by now.
BC: Oh, yeah. They’ve become part of the background of my life, I don’t pay attention to them much anymore.
Me: I see. Well, let’s get down to this interview...
BC: Hey, wait a minute. I think that goofy looking one is the guy that stole a pair of my socks out of the gym locker room!
Me: Please, could we just...
BC: Come here, you little bastard!
After several minutes of watching Bruce Campbell whomp on his crazed fans in order to reclaim a pair of socks, he finally sat back down and we got to the interview.
Me: So, when are you going to get the Oscar that you so-rightly deserve?
BC: Hell if I know, the Academy is full of stuffed shirts that don’t know talent when they see it. John Wayne got an Oscar for "True Grit!" I’m not saying he’s a bad actor, but that just wasn’t his best role. He should have gotten the award for The Quiet Man. I think I’ll get my Oscar for playing Elvis again in the sequel to "Bubba-ho-Tep." The guy who lives in the bushes outside my house says it’s one of my best performances.
Me: Yeah, that movie kicked ass. Moving on, are you and Sam Raimi ever going to work together again, outside of your Spider-Man cameos?
BC: We would love to work together again, it’s just a matter of working the schedule out. I’m free on Thursdays and every other Sunday, and Sam is waiting until he finishes "Spider-Man XXVII." Should be any day now…
Me: Wonderful. What would you say your...
Disgruntled Fan: Mr. Campbell! When will "Evil Dead 4" be out?
BC: Never, if I don’t give those socks back!
DF: I stole those socks fair and square! My church prays towards them twelve times a day!
BC: You son of a bitch!
Again, the interview must take a break while Bruce kicks ass and cleans house of any and all Evil Dead fan boys. Finally, after half an hour, he has worked the rage out of his system and sits back down again.
BC: Sorry about that.
Me: No problem. What would you say your favorite role has been?
BC: Everyone is expecting me to say Ash, but as much fun as those movies are to make, they are really just an excuse for Sam to embarrass me. And besides, Ash is an idiot. An extremely lucky idiot with a few catch-phrases, but an idiot. It was much more fun playing a snooty usher and Darkman at the very end of that movie.
Me: Another performance missed by the Academy Awards.
BC: Damn straight.
Me: And my final question for the evening, what’s up with you checking out my girlfriend a few years back? You trying to start something?
BC: Hey, she was a damn good-looking woman. Didn’t you two split a few years back?
Me: Well, yeah.
BC: That’s what I thought. If you’re still looking for trouble, just bring it.
After having seen Mr. Campbell whipping out Jackie Chan moves on "Evil Dead" fans for most of the day, I politely declined to start a rumble. Bruce could kick my ass.
Outside of refusing my request for an interview and pummeling his followers, Campbell seems like a great guy. He has appeared at a few conventions to sign autographs, gone on signing tours for both of his books and always answers the audience’s questions with wit and clever humor.
Of course, being the star of several cult films seems to have given him some rather strange fans. In his book Confessions, he tells a brief story where he was once asked by a fan to sign a brick. When Campbell asked why, the fan replied that he had found the cabin that the original "Evil Dead" was filmed in and taken one of the bricks. I’ve never heard of Trekkies that far off the deep end.
Another interesting story from the realm of nutcase fans comes from the day I attended his book signing. One person videotaped the whole thing, and when he had the chance to ask Bruce a question, the actor proceeded to razz him about the camera for approximately five minutes, quite possibly trying to get the young man to put the damn camera down. After the presentation, the crazy kid stood next to me and said “I was repeatedly slammed by Bruce Campbell! It ruled!” I was too polite to call him a schmuck, much to my ever-lasting regret.
It takes quite a dedicated person to make numerous appearances in front of eccentrics like these. If that were me, I would have cracked a long time ago, resorting to thermonuclear weapons to keep myself distanced from that sort of madness. I wonder if Mr. Campbell ever wanted to just grab a front-end loader and start scooping these fans into the local dump…
Outside of acting, Mr. Campbell has moved into writing and directing. His first foray behind the camera was for a few episodes of "Xena: Warrior Princess," and he recently wrote, directed and starred in "The Man with the Screaming Brain" for the Sci-Fi channel. It’s much better then "Alien Apocalypse," so give it a shot.
Will Mr. Campbell ever win that Oscar? Sadly, it’s not likely. They just don’t give Academy Awards to movies like the ones Bruce stars in. He has had a few dramatic roles, but sadly remains unnoticed by those in charge of the golden statues. And something tells me that he’s okay with this.
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