Some stars are so entertaining, it would be a crime to try and cut them off.
Bruce Campbell is one of those stars.
The 55-year-old actor made his debut in 1981 as chainsaw-wielding hero Ash Williams in a low-budget horror movie called ”The Evil Dead.” The film, which is now a beloved cult classic, not only launched Campbell’s career, but the career of its unknown 22-year-old director Sam Raimi as well. Ash went on to fight the undead in two sequels, “Evil Dead II” and “Army of Darkness.”
Campbell and Raimi revisit their horror franchise as producers of an all-new reimagined “Evil Dead,” directed by Fede Alavarez and starring “Suburgatory” actress Jane Levy. The film follows five friends as they visit a remote cabin in the woods, where they discover the Necronomicon, which awakens an evil spirit that inhabits each of the cabin’s guests.
For more on the film, I joined a group of excited writers for an interview with Campbell at October’s New York Comic Con. Below is the actor’s uncut, uninterrupted five-minute explanation of how the “Evil Dead” reboot came to be, how its star handled filming and whether he’ll ever return to the role of Ash. Enjoy.
Bruce Campbell: “The basic story is this: Fede made a short called ‘Panic Attack.’ It went crazy on the internet. Robots attacking a city. Go figure. Within three weeks, he was sitting down in front of every major studio and already had an agent. At CAA, for god’s sake. I can’t get them on the phone! And this little son of a [expletive], he’s the most wanted man in Hollywood. One of his meetings was with Sam. Sam’s like, ‘Ok, who’s this guy? Who’s this new hot [expletive] filmmaker?’ And they hit it off. And Sam was gonna develop a feature version of ‘Panic Attack.’ Oh my god, it got bogged down into development hell. Fede ended up pitching ['Evil Dead'] to Sam, randomly having fun discussions as filmmakers do. Sam really liked some of the ideas he had, we all got involved, listened more extensively to his ideas, and then we’re like, ‘Wow, this guy’s really thinking this through. He’s really serious, and he wants to do a retelling of that same story. So, we got behind it.”
“Sam sort of handpicked Fede, so we have complete confidence in him. Now that we’ve seen [the movie], we’re like, ‘Jesus Christ, what did he do?’ He did a, in my opinion, a spectacular job. Not a good job. A spectacular job. This is an adult movie. This is an old school horror, not masturbatory cinematic tricks. He’s a filmmaker, he’s a storyteller. And he’s gonna freak your [expletive] out. This movie’s gonna freak people’s [expletive] out. In a good way. And I hope for years from now, for the next 30 years of my life, I will be invited to double bills of the original ‘Evil Dead’ – show that first – and then show the remake. I think it would be an awesome double bill.”
“It’s just two different versions of a creepy story done 30 years apart. As producers, we have not exploited this [franchise] whatsoever. Jason, Freddy – there’s versions of ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ I lose track. But we haven’t touched the ‘Evil Dead’ movies in 20 years, and I think that’s built up enough anticipation. When fans get itchy, they let you know about it. ‘Evil Dead’ fans are not shy. But they were, at first, hesitant about this and some, I would say, were violently against it. But I think the tide is turning. They realize that we’re all involved, the original producers are involved. We’re not some cigar-chomping [expletive] producer who had a deal with the studio – ‘Hey, let me make a horror picture with some big [expletives] and blood. Whaddaya got? Ah, “Evil Dead,” let’s do that. Sounds great.’ It’s not that at all. I hope that fans realize we’re being very loyal to them and we appreciate their violent loyalty to us. We don’t wanna break that trust. They got pissed because they’re very protective of it, so we respect that and appreciate it. We don’t want a movie to be a piece of crap either. That’s the farthest thing from our mind is to shove some piece of crap down your throat. We want to make three more of these things.”
“The ‘Evil Dead’ movies are fun for audiences. The first one was very scary, the second one was kind of weird and goofy and third is an adventure movie with talking skeletons. They’re all over the place, but it’s still the evil and the dead and you can either be serious with this topic or not. So, Fede had a very straight-forward approach, a very serious approach. So, if you’re laughing during this movie, it’s only because it’s nervous laughter. This is not a funny movie. It was never meant to be a funny movie. The first one is only a funny movie because we’re kind of hokey actors delivering bad dialogue, not really knowing what we’re doing, so it made it funny. You’re going, ‘Wow, what a cheeseball line, you really nailed that one.’ But in this movie, they’re all better actors than we were.”
“Jane Levy is – we probably won’t be able to afford her for much longer, because she’s gonna go insane, in my opinion. I don’t know anything about anything, but that chick’s gonna work. She brought it. If I have to crown her the new Ash personally, I will do it myself. People just gotta chill out. This is another story. Don’t worry about Ash. Ash’ll be fine. Sam wants to preserve Ash, too. We may do an ‘Evil Dead 4,’ but it’s not like these movies are easy to make, and it’s not like any of us are getting any younger, so people shouldn’t have anticipation. We wanna give them a little something, and that little something is a new telling of the story done really well by Fede.”
“Evil Dead” is now available with XFINITY On Demand. Click here to begin the process of ordering at home.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.