Writer's Note: This Q&A session took place in July, 2005 and was cobbled together with notes, photos, and memories-- in other words, these are not exact quotes, so thanks for not suing.
PHOENIX, AZ JULY 25, 2005-- When Bruce Campbell came to town that fateful day, July 13 of the year
2005, a crowd had
gathered around the Harkins Centerpoint Eleven theaters in Tempe Arizona.
This throng was
comprised of all shapes and sizes, races, ages, nationalities, not unlike
the contents of a
Hollywood focus group. I half-expected the chainsaw-toting, Evil Dead
moderately scary Bruce Campbell fans to be present (and they were);
however the net had
seemingly been cast in a broader stoke bringing in the "normals." The
moment I had envisioned
as an early teenager had finally happened, Bruce Campbell could finally
run for President and
unite the United States and then the world.
Campbell answering questions at Harkins Centerpoint. July 2005, photo by Eric Marsh.
Bruce was in town to promote his new book, a novel called, Make Love the
Bruce Campbell Way, and also to show his film, Man With The Screaming Brain.
Make Love... is a novel "starring Bruce Campbell," that details Bruce's
achieve mainstream success by being cast in an imaginary romantic comedy
called Make Love.
It wasn't a self-help book as I had hoped.
Man With The Screaming Brain was a film in the classic tradition of
films such as the Evil Dead trilogy (which is Evil Dead, Evil Dead II,
and Army of Darkness for
the uninitiated) and Bubba Ho-Tep. Classic meaning it includes bits of
Bruce harming himself
and others in Three Stooges-style punch-ups. Just imagine the "I'm
kicking my ass," scene
from Liar, Liar, but with the hilarity pushed dangerously in overdrive.
The film is about an
American businessman who is injured by a bloodthirsty gypsy woman and
saddled with a brain
injury that is mended by a mad scientist (Stacy Keach) and his equally
mad assistant (Ted Raimi,
in a wonderful Ali G-esque character part). The solution is however,
worse than the problem,
when the scientists fuse businessman Bruce's brain with that of an ex-KGB
probably saying to yourself: kill-crazy gypsy, mad science, bludgeoning;
if I wanted to see a
movie of this genre I would simply rent a movie like You've Got Mail or
the Remains of the
Day. But you'd be wrong, Merchant-Ivory or romantic Hollywood could never
scene where Bruce Campbell screams, "my brain is on fire," followed by a
involving his head in a filthy toilet and/or a quart of milk being poured
over his head. Or could
Easily, the best part of the affair was not actually the face-time or
the autograph. The
best part was Bruce's Q&A session before the film that gave me and other
opportunity to do what we've always wanted to do, ask the man with the
cinema chain saw
hand, anything we wanted to. Bruce entered the theater looking very
elder statesman as he
strolled up the aisle to the front of the theater, to thunderous
"Well go ahead, ask me anything about this movie you've never seen,"
Bruce said, "sorry, we'll
watch the movie in a minute, but first I thought we could do a little
question and answer
"What's your worst movie?" one person asked.
"Well, I'll do it like this. I'll turn my back and you can shout out
movies and I'll see if you name
my least favorite."
Bruce turned around for about two seconds. The audience shouted out
"Congo," and "Serving Sara."
"Alright, alright," Bruce turned around and said, "I could be there all
night as you name
every movie I've ever appeared in."
"You know sometimes it's really hard to gauge when a film will do well.
I mean I've been in
some A-pictures that I thought would have been blockbusters," people started again shouting out films and something picture involving
a sea snake.
"Yeah that's one. That's another. (To the sea-snake comment) Uh...yeahhh." Bruce said in his
trademark kind of morosely disquieted tone. "I need a volunteer," Bruce said.
Immediately, everyone shot their hands up. Clearly everyone in this
room would have
volunteered to surrender any one of their vital organs to this man. He
could have asked them
for anything. In this case, Bruce chose a young woman in the front row.
"OK, miss, pretend you are a Hollywood actor and I'm a famous Hollywood
pitch you a movie and you will tell me if you would make this movie with
"The movie has the editor from E.T. It has the director of photography
who won a Oscar for
Empire of the Sun. The screenplay was written by the writer who did
Jurassic Park and it is
based on a book by the author of Jurassic Park. It also has all of
Steven Spielberg's producers
involved in it's production. Would you make this film?"
"Sure," the young woman said.
"Congratulations, you just did Congo," Bruce said.
Bruce's brevity was appreciated, especially when dealing with insane
super fans much
like Homer on the Simpsons did when he appeared on a panel as the voice
of Poochie at an
Itchy and Scratchy convention.
"When is your self-help book coming out," I said.
"What?! Never. You don't want advice from an actor, get real," Bruce
"I heard a rumor on the Internet...," one fan started his sentence.
"'...a rumor on the Internet..." that sounds reliable," Bruce said.
"When are you going to do Evil Dead Four," One solitary male fan asked.
Bruce feigned an aneurysm.
"You have to forgive me I was just taken aback from your question. Another Evil Dead
film... hhhmmm... I've never been asked that question... only eight thousand
fucking times," Bruce said.
"Sorry. You know, we've already made an Evil Dead Four, but it sucked
and now it's sitting
on a shelf somewhere. (Bruce paused and looked at the fan). I think he
bought it," Bruce said.
"Who is the worst co-star you have ever had," a fan asked.
"...Who is the worst co-star... that's a rather mean spirited
question... Matthew Perry," Bruce answered.
"You see I did that movie Serving Sara and then production stopped
because Matthew Perry
went into re-hab. In that period of time, I went to Texas to shoot
Bubba Ho-Tep. Suddenly,
Matthew Perry got out of re-hab and the producers of Serving Sara called
me down to finish
the film as it sometimes happens when you're under contract. I had to
leave Bubba Ho-Tep and
finish Serving Sara, which abruptly shutdown production of Bubba Ho-Tep.
"That sucks, but get
this: one day as we're walking to set, Matthew Perry says,'you know,
that Evil Dead game
sucks.' I said,' do you play it.' He said, 'yeah.' I said,'how far are
you into it? Have you
gotten through it?" He said, 'well, no.' I said, 'Maybe the game doesn't
suck, maybe you suck
at playing it.'"
"Is there going to be a Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Ash movie?" one fan asked.
"No. And I'll tell you why. First off let me ask you this genius, where
does the movie take
place? In a dream, in present day, at Crystal Lake, at the cabin?" Bruce
The fan shouted out some complex time-warp convuluded sub-internet fan
fiction type plot.
"Uh-huh," Bruce said.
"Haven't you read the script on-line?" he shot back.
"Script on-line, eh? Did you write it?" Bruce asked.
"I'll tell you this we had one meeting at New Line that lasted about five
minutes. 'What do we control in this film,' we asked. 'Ash,' they said. 'No, thanks,' we
said. Then we left," Bruce told the guy.
"When will there be a Jack of All Trades DVD?" a fan asked.
"A Jack of All Trades DVD? So you're the guy," Bruce said to laugher to rival the sardonic wit of a modest proposal of Jonathan Swift or the comic powerhouse of Richard Pryor live on the Sunset Strip," You didn't own a Nielson box that season I suspect. Too bad."
"Will Man With The Screaming Brain be on DVD?" yet another fan asked.
"Oh shit yeah, Anchor Bay will no doubt put out like five editions of this turkey. You've seen their work," Bruce joked.
"I read something on the Internet..." a fan began.
"'I read something on the internet,'" Bruce mocked in a mentally challenged voice, "Sorry, go on."
"I read something that said you are working on an Evil Dead remake," the fan said.
"We're calling it a re-imagining. But while we're on the subject of remakes. I've had it up to here with remakes. I'm going to talk just to the audience members thirty and up now. I hate
remakes. I mean, Hollywood is remaking not only good movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but are also making movies from awful TV shows. I mean some kids don't even realize that Car Wash didn't star Snoop Dogg or that Willy Wonka is a remake. Why remake a classic when Willy Wonka has already been made, and Johnny Depp, he's just weird. And you're probably saying, (in a mentally challenged voice), 'Bruce, what about Batman Begins? Batman was good.' Batman is a rip-off. The first was alright but the rest of them... they don't care about you. They just keep churning them out," Bruce said.
"Alright. We wanted to do a movie that would allow us to repay our
investors like Sam Raimi's Dad who helped finance the first movie. They took a chance on us
and it's time to pay them back. The movie will have an all-new story and we're not even sure
there will be an 'Ash' character. It will star Ashton Kutcher, too," Bruce said.
The audience booed.
"What? Don't you want to see him get raped by a tree?" Bruce said. The audience cheered.
"On that happy note, let's start the movie," Bruce said. At that moment I would have stepped in front of a bullet for Bruce Campbell.
Here's what was said when Bruce signed my book.
"Domo?" Bruce asked, pointing to my shirt, "What's Domo?"
"It's my friend's band," I said.
"Oh... uh... so where are you from?" Bruce asked cordially.
"Phoenix," I said.
"What do you do in Phoenix, uh... Pete," Bruce said, reading the stick-it
note on my book, put there by the prep-lady in the line.
"I'm a student... kind of," I said.
"Kind of a student, eh? You mean to say you're not really a student,"
"Not really," I said.
"OK, thanks, Pete," Bruce said.
I nervously walked away.
"Say, Pete?" Bruce called out.
I hoped that maybe he had finally seen the gimmer in my eye that let him
know, this man must be my loyal sidekick.
"Yes, Bruce?" I asked.
"We're all students of something, aren't we?" Bruce asked.
"We are indeed, we are indeed," I said.
Bruce smiled that famous Bruce smile and nodded knowingly, as I walked
away book in hand.