This October you may get to ask Bruce Campbell a few questions yourself; the actor/director will be touring with his new film My Name Is Bruce, landing here in NYC on Halloween for a screening at the Sunshine. You'll have to check out my AMC column for Bruce's MNIB filmmaking recollections... But while you're here, you may as well soak in everything he told me about that Evil Dead remake that he and Sam Raimi are always threatening to do.
I refuse to believe that I'll ever meet a nicer guy to spend 22 minutes on the phone with than Bruce Campbell. I'm beginning to see why everyone wants to live at his house in the middle of nowhere...
TB: Did you always suspect you'd wind up living out in the woods and talking to yourself?
BC: Yes! It’s an acquired taste, you have to desire it. It’s a strange little home that we have... We have no cell service out there, and it unnerves some of my city friends. They ask, “How can you sleep here at night?” What, are the wolves going to tear through the screens and come in and drag me away? They can’t handle the quiet or the lack of light (there aren’t any street lights on any of the roads, so it’s basically pay attention or die). Other people come up, however, and say, “Oh... I have to live at your house. Starting now.”
The area in Southern Oregon where I live is actually the most undecided voter block in the nation. George Bush went there twice to try to rally the troops. Our kind of people though, they don’t want to be told what to do by anybody. It's the rich people and rural people who are anti-government; rural people are afraid of government because because they’ve never seen any other humans before. Where I live, we’ve got neo-nazis and real outdoor crazies.
TB: At least if you don’t have cell-phone service, you know the neo-nazis don’t either...
BC: Exactly. We’re all on a level playing field.
TB: You'll be in New York for Halloween. Have you seen the parade we have here?
BC: I saw it 2 years ago, it was really a blast. It made me glad that there are still so many freaks out in the world -- that it’s not all just Wall Street stuff. I think we need more rebellion, and this is a sort of planned rebellion. People need an outlet, and I think Halloween is good for that. There’s like a hundred thousand cops in NYC who are out on Halloween because of all the freaks pouring in for the parade! My favorite gag with the officers is going up and saying, "Man, I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve seen a lot of costumes tonight but yours is the best.” Of course half the guys just go, “Get the fuck out of here!”
TB: Are you ready to start talking about the new Evil Dead movie that is supposedly in the works?
BC: I wish I could... It’s so enigmatic! I’ll hear a rumor sometimes about things that Sam has said. I heard that at the convention Sam said he’d be doing Evil Dead 4. But then I heard he said he’d be doing Spiderman 4 and 5 back-to-back. And I thought, "When are you going to do Evil Dead 4? Seven years from now when those other two behemoth films are done??" Sam has the full desire and interest to do it though, and so do I -- as long as it’s with him. I’m way past that whole “let it go” phase! So whatever, we’ll do it eventually. But I’m doing this TV show right now, and he’s making big-budget movies, so it’s a matter of actually finding time to do it. That’s the truth of it, there’s no scuttlebutt or anything. But there’s no script, either!
TB: Would you want to play a part in it, in addition to working behind the camera?
BC: I think it’s a remake, so I wouldn't be anywhere onscreen. Unless I’m the old guy at the bait shop going, “You kids have a great weekend!” It’s a new batch of people with a new set of circumstances, I would think. I’m lobbying for the remake to be done like the old days when we were shooting on 16mm. Go with total nobodies, because no one in the original cast was anybody – we were just a bunch of schmoes from Michigan, so let’s get a bunch of schmoes from Michigan again. Just assemble five cast members who are 21, like we were, and put them through absolute hell for about ten weeks. I’d do it retro, go easy on the digital stuff... goback to real stage-based effects, which can be shocking in their hokeyness or their reality or whatever. Sam’s a great magician, he can do a whole mixed bag.
TB: So this wouldn't be one of those big-budget do-overs that we all dread?
BC: I would definitely go back to a low-budget docuhorror feel. When you hear “remake” you think giant, like a big $40 million version. My feeling is no; the first Evil Dead cost $400 thousand in 1979, and I’d like to make it again for the equivalent amount. Then I think you’d have something; the people would want to see what you could pull off within those parameters. I swear to god, the same story doesn’t even seem so interesting anymore somehow, I think we'd need a whole new dynamic... and then the sequel could just pick up wherever we leave off.
TB: I think people would appreciate that, horror fans can smell a big-budget sequel coming a mile a way.
BC: Yeah, Blair Witch 2 is a great example. Now that's a film where you think, “Well, the studio sure got their mitts all over that!” It’s funny, they probably scraped together $40 million for that sequel and considered it low-budget. Blair Witch is one of my favorite movies and I haven’t even seen it – well I’ve seen five minutes, but I think if I watched the rest I’d barf or get a headache. I want to send them a tripod for christmas. But it’s because of what it represents: it means that these guys took a movie and found a brilliant marketing strategy that planted enough infotainment fear in your brain to want to believe in it. For the sequel, I’m not sure why bigger had to be better. Every sequel is more expensive, even with Evil Dead, where the sequel was way more expensive. For part 4, why would we even make a $40 million movie? Why not deliver an old fashioned ass-kicking -- heavy objects and primitive weaponry!