The new Evil Dead is out in the UK now, and judging from its performance at the US box office, it will bring a whole lot of folk into the cabin in the woods for the very first time. My biggest hope is that the newbies like what they see enough to go check out the previous films.
And particularly, I’d say, Evil Dead 2. It’s tonally way, way off the new film, and some of the goofier moments might prove a little surprising to less well-travelled horror fans, but I think it’s still the series’ crowning glory. In fact, as much as I love the original film, the second chapter stands way out in front for me as probably my favourite comedy film of all time, and one of my favourite horror pictures.
With perfect timing, a new UK Blu-ray edition of Evil Dead 2 was published this week, complete with new some special features. As a result, I was offered the opportunity to speak to Bruce Campbell, the film’s star.
Though calling Campbell the film’s star seems to underplay his part in this so much. Campbell is so much of the body of Evil Dead 2 – albeit a body contorted and twisted by the demonic imaginations of Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel – that ‘star’ just doesn’t seem to cut it.
Here’s some of what Campbell had to tell me.
I would call The Evil Dead 2 “splatstick.” Slapstick with carnage and mayhem. The objective was to do a different kind of horror movie. The first Evil Dead was very melodramatic and what some people thought was campy was something that we’d never intended. After that, when we got to do a second one, we had interest in trying some different styles, different approaches.
We were all fans of The Three Stooges, and we let them influence the work, in this particular case. But some people think it’s actually a scary movie. There are so many levels of what people can take. To a ten year old boy, maybe it’d be the scariest thing they’d ever see. Either way, though, it’s a weird movie, regardless of what genre you think it is. It takes some odd twists and turns.
We had a bad experience making our second movie, Crimewave, and we wanted to have a better creative experience. We wanted to not go over budget. Evil Dead 2, of all of the Evil Dead movies, was the most under control. It was the most organised. We didn’t have many organisation problems, the studio didn’t interfere and we didn’t run out of money. The film was actually into profit before we’d even finished filming.
Scott Spiegel is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met in my entire life. He and Sam are kindred spirits with the same sense of humour. When those two were writing, down the hallway from me where our offices were, you would hear this cackling, howling with laughter. They would bring a page down and we would word process it, and then they’d bring another page down and we started to see the lunacy. Scott has a very vivid imagination and when you combine him with Sam, they had a great time.
I never have a problem with anything I’ve ever done in the past because it always made sense at the time. I don’t look back on Maniac Cop as though that was a bad thing. At the time it made perfect sense, it seemed like the perfect role and I was glad to have it. But a lot of movies are just time capsules of where you were at that time, not only physically but mentally, creatively.
The first Evil Dead was all about the budget that we never had. It was all about how to make a movie for next to nothing and still have it be memorable. But each film is a great little stepping stone. I have two kids who are older now, 26 and 29, and they can look back and they have endless amounts of footage they can see of me if I ever get hit by a bus. Bad clothing, a bad haircut, a poorly delivered line will all last forever, but movies are very interesting snapshots not only of time period, but also of the filmmakers.
I’ve been in a lot of audiences where they loved Evil Dead 2 and out satisfaction comes from the audience’s satisfaction. When we see them laughing or screaming or carrying on, then we feel that we’ve succeeded. It’s entertaining them.
Horror is a classic form of entertainment in that it makes you feel like you’re dying but you’re not, like the thrill ride in the amusement park. You take the ride because it makes you feel like you’re going to die but at the end, you’re alright. Horror is just thrill seeking entertainment. The Evil Dead films are not low key at all.
It was a strange trilogy that was never meant to be. I know that, good or bad, the Evil Dead movies are different. And I attribute that to Sam. He has a magician’s eye. He’s getting more sophisticated, and that’s probably why he’s baffled with the audience’s continued love for these films, because they aren’t as sophisticated as some of his big budget efforts. At the same time, these films have a real spirit to them, and a real energy and there’s a lot going on. The Evil Dead movies work hard to entertain you.
Evil Dead 2 was a very handmade movie. We have a sequence where the Ash character is laughing and everything in the room is laughing with him. In order to have everything animated we had to empty out the entire production office. Usually the office is a very busy, noisy place with people running around with receipts and petty cash and it’s usually a zoo, but we had to pull everyone out, just to get this scene. Everybody in the entire production office and whole crew had to do something, whether it was pulling a string or operating a puppet with sticks, just to get the long shot of that room.
I’ve been typecast more by fans than I have by the industry. Fans like me doing a certain thing, whatever you want to call that, and they’re proprietary about what they like. An Evil Dead fan won’t watch me doing a TV show I’ve been doing for seven years – Burn Notice. In their minds, I am the horror guy. In other people’s minds, they’ve never seen Evil Dead and they don’t want to see a movie like that. I can play a Navy SEAL, I can play the Ash character, I can do a voice for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs or be in Oz The Great and Powerful, no one is stopping me. I look at my resume and I see a lot of different things. I’ve been in Westerns and adventure things, Hercules and Xena and silly shows like that, but it all depends on what fans like. If they only like horror, then to them, I’m the horror guy. But I’ve been able to work for three decades now and that’s all I care about. I want to be relevant and I want to work.
Well, Bruce Campbell will always be relevant round at my house. Thanks again to Mr. Campbell for taking the time to talk with me.
The Evil Dead 2 is available in its new, UK special edition Blu-ray now. This film is a super-rare essential, I think. This is one of the very few films you simply have to see.
And there’s more about both of the new Evil Dead releases on this week’s podcast…
- Images From Ridley Scott’s New Biblical Epic, Exodus, With Christian Bale And Sigourney Weaver - July 1, 2014
- James Cameron Goes To The Bottom Of The Ocean In Trailer For Deepsea Challenge 3D - July 1, 2014
- London Getting The Guardians Of The Galaxy IMAX Preview Next Tuesday - July 1, 2014
- Footage From Studio Ghibli’s New Feature, When Marnie Was There - July 1, 2014
- Where The Avengers: Age Of Ultron Leaves The Hulk For Future Movies - July 1, 2014