Hey Folks, Harry here - You want to laugh so hard your ribs crack and your spleen shivvers? You want to make women tremble with quaking thighs at the very sight of your initials? Well - read HOW TO MAKE LOVE THE BRUCE CAMPBELL WAY but read it while acting out all the scenarios with your ASH action figure (you know you have 3)! The various pictures and illustrations in this book - in addition to the joyfully conceited gleeful writing style of Bruce - just makes the book a joy to read. Had to miss THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN - when Bruce hit town due to my secret identity's work related activities - sigh. Now - behold the sheer artistry with which Bruce and Capone frolic!
Click The Book To Own The Greatest Aphrodesiac Known To Geek-kind!
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago, following up my line-up announcement for
this year's Flashback Weekend in Chicago, July 29-31. The guest of honor
this year is a returning favorite to the Flashback event, Mr. Bruce
Campbell, and this year the man is busy. He’s got a new book (“How to Make
Love the Bruce Campbell Way), and three new movies out or soon to be out
(THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN; SKY HIGH; and THE WOODS). But I’ll let
him tell you all about it. I conducted this phone interview with Bruce while
he was in the midst of his whirlwind “Summer of Love” book tour. On this day
he was in Phoenix, on the eve of his ComicCon appearance. Let’s dive right
in, shall we?
Capone: You many not remember, but you and I spent the better part of evening together in Chicago for the opening night of BUBBA HO-TEP about two years ago.
Bruce Campbell: I remember it like it was yesterday…I just can’t remember what I did yesterday.
Capone: The only reason I bring it up is because during our talks between screenings and Q&As, we discussed the subject matter of “Make Love…,” but according to my notes you had a slightly different approach to this subject matter. You also mentioned in that interview THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN as being a film that has been torpedoed out of development at the time.
B.C.: That happened every six months. It would come back, go away.
Capone: But at least you got it made. My brother saw you and the film in Seattle last week and said he really enjoyed it.
B.C.: That was a fun screening, because it was at the Neptune Theatre, which is this big old 750-seat house with a balcony. The coolest part about this 44-city tour is…Well let me say that when I was touring for the first book, I’d show up at a movie theatre, but they’d be showing EVIL DEAD II or ARMY OF DARKNESS, and that gets old. But I said, wait a minute, now I’ve got this new movie, let’s make everything new on this tour.
Oh, and good news, we just jumped from 35 to 20 on the New York Times best sellers list. So we’re kicking some ass.
Capone: Well your autobiography was a bona fide success, unexpectedly so.
B.C.: It would definitely qualify as a surprise success from the publisher’s point of view. They had no idea what that book even way. They just said, “What’s the book that’s making money for us?”
Capone: So “Make Love…” covers your fictional adventures in Hollywood.
B.C.: It’s a mockumentary in book form, yes.
Capone: There have certainly been many novels about the Hollywood scene, but most of those books use fictional characters with made-up names. But you opted to use the names of real people even thought their personas are bogus…we assume. Why did you think that was the better approach?
B.C.: I just said, let’s use real people. It was really the only approach I thought of; it wasn’t like I compared the two approaches. It was a way to put it in a context that I could understand. It’s my first novel, and it was a way for me to stay in familiar territories, safe waters. And there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t tell in the first book that I could sneak into the second book and change the names to protect the guilty, pretend it’s fiction. For example, I do know an executive that smells his fingers all the time. There have been actors who fuck with you during auditions, things like that. I do know the Paramount back lot. I have met Robert Evans. I thought, let’s go for it. I think people will think the stories are more real.
Capone: That was my next question. I assume there are some people mentioned in the book whom you haven’t met…
B.C.: I haven’t met any of them. I haven’t me Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger, Mike Nichols. I’m sure he’s a delightful man, but I wouldn’t know for sure. I perpetuated a public persona of them. Mike Nichols is known as a classy director, and I refer to him as a classy director. I’m terrified of him because he’s a real director. So I’m not revealing anyone’s secret drug habits or anything like that. Same with Gere and Zellweger; I just went with commonly known things about them. Richard Gere is a peace-loving Buddhist, so I thought it would be fun to trash his apartment during a rehearsal.
Capone: Is this the book you set out to write? Because when we spoke in 2003, I got the impression you were going for more of a parody of relationship advise books.
B.C.: Honestly, my editor and I were having a bunch of lengthy notes sessions, and we got to the point where there was a long pause on the phone. The original idea way, way back was a nonfiction book, a gag relationship book. But we kind of said during the notes sessions that we were crossing a line here into fiction, aren’t we? That made it more fun. The relationship advise angle is still in there, but now it’s part of a story. I’m not qualified to write about that shit, even making fun of it. I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole.
Capone: Okay, you’ve written a novel in which some version of you is the main character…
B.C.: I know, it’s scary. Some good friends of mine have read it and they said to me, “Bruce, you better be careful because you come across like a real jerk in this book.” And I tell them, “Hey, that’s just the writer talking.”
I should mention, later this summer, we’re releasing a six-hour unabridged version of book. A 6-CD radio play version of the book where people act out Richard Gere and Renee Zellweger. Different actors. Our tag line is: You’ve read the book, now here the movie. That’s through Ryko. Ted Raimi is all over it, he probably plays 15 characters. Also, I live in southern Oregon, which recently played host to the largest Shakespeare festival in the country, so I got myself some Shakespearean actors for this radio play, and they were so excited to do something that wasn’t Willy for a while.
Capone: Right. And now I’m reading that your about to make another film with Dark Horse where you’re playing yourself again.
B.C.: Yeah, that whole playing myself thing is taking center state in my life. I swear it’s not a conscious effort.
Capone: The idea for the Dark Horse film reminds me of GALAXY QUEST, wherein the townspeople come to an actor known for fighting supernatural beings to help rid their town of zombies.
B.C.: And in my case it’s especially ridiculous because I’ve never owned a gun or worked a chainsaw, and when I show up to help, more people die than before I show up there. It’ll be fun. I’m directing that one too. Mark Verheiden, who wrote TIMECOP and THE MASK is writing it. My desire is to pepper the cast with every people that those at horror cons would watch and go, “Oh, cool!” Like Ted Raimi. If you’re going to make a movie making fun of the whole concept of actors being identified with their roles, the sheriff should be so-and-so, the mayor should be so-and so. And I’m trying to shoot it in Oregon.
Capone: That’ll be good for you.
B.C.: Yeah, because I’m sick of going to frickin’ Bulgaria.
Capone: Well, Bulgaria is apparently the new Toronto in terms of places to shoot instead of the U.S.
B.C.: Yeah, well that sucks as a place to shoot. Let me just go on record. Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver I’ve been to. Bulgaria isn’t even close. They’re going there to save money. They don’t give a shit whether it’s good for the movie or not.
Capone: I just read that they may shoot RAMBO IV there.
B.C.: [Snoring sounds]. Well that’s because the average Bulgarian worker makes $110 a month, so forget about it. But they also have packs of wild dogs there, so it’s not a normal place. You have to carry a bag of dry dog food in the van.
Capone: Was there anything good about shooting there?
B.C.: It was incredibly charming. It’s also very healthy as an American to just get out and see the rest of the world to see what people think of you as an American. I lived like a Bulgarian while we were there. I lived in an apartment building for two months, hauling my groceries up the stairs. They don’t do elevators there. They get by on so little and it’s bizarre to see a country that’s completely emerging. It’s such a strange dichotomy. But I enjoyed feeding the wild dogs every morning.
Capone: You ended up there as part of your arrangement for Sci-Fi Channel to make ALIEN APOCALYPSE, right?
B.C.: Right, Sci-Fi Channel wanted to do two movies with me back to back. It all started with this film TERMINAL INVASION, which they didn’t really care for so they just dumped it on the air [in 2002], but it did well thanks to fine people like your readers. And they were confused, and they were asking themselves, Who was this guy that’s drawing viewers? So I got a call soon after asking, What else have you got? And I told them that SCREAMING BRAIN has been rotting on your shelf now for two months why don’t you take a look at it? So they took a fresh look at it and suddenly were interested. And because they were going to Bulgaria and wanted two movies, so I called my buddy Josh Becker and said “Good news, bad news, buddy. Good news: we’re going to make your movie [ALIEN APOCALYSE]” because I knew he had this script which I thought was a very appropriate Sci-Fi Channel movie. “Bad news is you’re going first to Bulgaria.” And he cursed me every day, e-mailing me saying you fucker. Do you know what I’ve had to go through?”
And since we had all of these Bulgarian actors playing many of the roles, we had to loop them, which is why ALIEN APOCALYPSE has kind of a bizarre feel to it, like “Speed Racer” cartoon. And that movie is set in Portland. And my original story for SCREAMING BRAIN is set in East L.A., and I said to Sci-Fi, “Who are my Latinos, the gypsies?” So, just rewrote the damn thing for Bulgarians, set in Bulgaria. It was the smartest thing I ever did, for budget reason too, because we don’t have the time or money to change signs and bring over cars that look American. They had these old Soviet SUVs driving around. They have these old East German cars where the shell is made out of pressed paper with 2-cylinder engines, like a weed-whacker on wheels.
I did another rewrite while we were making ALIEN APOCALYSE to include scenes with crazy cab drivers, because they were out of their minds. And I stole a whole character. My character is based on a real cab driver. That’s the B-movie world, you tap dance as fast as you can. It was invigorating because we were trying to be troubleshooters every day. We took over a military compound that had been abandoned. When communism fell, everybody walked away from so many things, and the military shut down. There are a thousand unfinished buildings, because no one who owned it anymore. So we cut down trees in the parking lot of this base and created the first Bulgarian back lot. That was a smart move because they don’t block streets there; they’re just not set up to do it. It was like making a giant Super 8 movie like when I was in high school.
Capone: It sounds like your old days with Sam Raimi, where you just worked with what you had and no one had any money or resources.
B.C.: Absolutely. In a way, it’s half-maddening because you ask yourself why do I have to go through this. If we’d stayed in the United States, this wouldn’t have been a problem. I’m taking a bunch of extreme steps to shoot in the U.S. again for this next movie.
Capone: Is SCREAMING BRAIN getting any kind of traditional theatrical release?
B.C.: No, and I don’t care. This has been satisfying to show it in these great old revival house theatres with big screens. You know, as a result of doing it this way, SCREAMING BRAIN has been shown on bigger screens than I would ever get in a multiplex, where they’d dump me on screen #19, which would be just a little bigger than your plasma T.V. In this case, I’m showing the flick in 600-seat houses, 750-seat houses with balconies and great velvet curtains. In a way, I’m getting the royal treatment. It’s been great, and I think audience members like to get out of the multiplex, especially the people who follow what I do, they don’t like normal anything.
I should mention that SCREAMING BRAIN is premiering on the Sci-Fi Channel on the last Sunday in September and will come out on DVD through Anchor Bay around Halloween, as it should.
Capone: And in Chicago, the film is showing in a drive-in setting.
B.C.: Go figure!
Capone: And with SCREAMING BRAIN, you’ve also got the comic book version with Dark Horse, which you’ve called the Director’s Cut of the movie.
B.C.: Not every movie lends itself to a comic book, but this one, come on! It’s called THE MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN! And we liked one of the covers so much, we went, “That’s the poster for the movie.” And in the low-budget world, why hire a guy to design a new poster if you’ve already got it? The executive producer jumped all over that. “We don’t have to spend any money? Good idea.”
Capone: This is a busy year for you. SKY HIGH is actually coming out the weekend you’re in Chicago.
B.C.: I hope SCREAMING BRAIN defeats SKY HIGH in Chicago, but I doubt it will. We’ll check the one-day grosses. It’s hard to go toe-to-toe with Disney, though.
Capone: You play a teacher in the film…
B.C.: I’m Coach Boomer, the loser gym coach.
Capone: Does he have a power?
B.C.: He has a sonic booming voice. When he yells at the kids, you see their hair go back.
Capone: And the last time we saw each other you were excited about THE WOODS [from MAY director Lucky McKee].
B.C.: That’s coming out in the fall. Now that I’m aging, I get to play fathers. Agnes Bruckner is the lead woman, my daughter. It’s great to play the father because the young person gets covered in blood, and I walk in and say, “What did I miss?” It’s not as dirty as a job anymore. It’s fun to play other types of roles. Here, it’s a geeky, nerdy professor-type father, who had no martial arts skills and doesn’t brandish a weapon. No, that’s no accurate. I do brandish an axe, I won’t lie to you, but only to come to the aide of his daughter. It’s not like, “Yo, she-bitch, let’s go.”
Capone: I’m now going to attempt to ask the inevitable EVIL DEAD sequel question in a slightly different way. Would you a perfectly happy man if you never played Ash again? Or is it something you’re burning to do just one more time?
B.C.: No, I never think about it. It’s not part of my program. Although THQ is coming out with yet another EVIL DEAD game, so my feeling is that as the video game technology improves, it actually becomes more like a sequel. They’re employing this new rag doll technology in the current game, and it’s cool shit. I voice it, and we added Ted Raimi as a sidekick, he plays a little Deadite, so now I have a guy I can kick the shit out of and talk to.
Capone: Have you been told by Sam Raimi what pivotal role you’ll be playing in the next SPIDER-MAN film?
B.C.: No, he never tells me. He just tells me when to show up, gives me the silly costume, tells me my four lines, GO! Plus, honestly, the studio is very cagey about sharing information. I don’t even get the whole script. I only get the pages with my character in them. And each page in big 4-inch letters, it says CAMPBELL 001, CAMPBELL 002 on the next page. If I ever ran to Kinkos, they’d know who to sue. So I memorize my lines and give the pages right back to assistant director; I don’t even want to hold this thing.
Capone: The roles are always small, but always significant.
B.C.: Absolutely. I named him in the first one, and I defeated him in the second one. No one can say they defeated Spider-Man except me. He did not get into that theatre, I don’t care what his powers are.
Capone: Now I’ll ask a sequel question in a more traditional manner. Is a follow-up to BUBBA HO-TEP still a possibility?
B.C.: MGM was interested, but they just go purchased by Sony, and there’s that uncomfortable year-long period where everyone is looking at everyone else asked “Who are you? Are you my boss? You’re fired.” And executives take projects with them. It’s all very secretive. So who knows? We have an idea mapped out, it’s like a prequel and a sequel at the same time. When the smoke clears, I think someone will step up because it’s actually done really well for them. I hope they see it that way.
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