Friends... Some nights are just perfect.
Tonight was a perfect night.
As a matter of fact, it was just one of them.... God, this is soooo cool, how can I be this lucky.. sorta nights.
Tonight was the EVIL DEAD TRILOGY hosted by BRUCE CAMPBELL.
According to Bruce, this is the first time, that he is aware of, that all three EVIL DEAD movies (EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD II, ARMY OF DARKNESS) have all been screened in a theatrical 35 mm triple bill.
But... I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s do the doodily doo bit and start at the beginning.
For about a year now, Tim (aka Mr Alamo) has been working on getting Bruce Campbell to come to the Alamo Drafthouse for an Evil Dead triple feature. But, ya know... what with all the hussle and bustle of his career, it’s been a fruit of love that brought Bruce and these films to Austin. And Tim is the guy with the green thumb.
There have been more false starts and almost got it togethers than I can remember, but when Tim finally nailed Bruce down.... There was pure glee in his voice.
His theater... His palace was going to play host to one of the most absolute badass kings of cool this side of the grave.
So about two weeks ago... out of the blue.... I get this e-mail from Bruce Campbell asking if he could interview me for this documentary he’s shooting called FANalysis.
You know... From time to time I get an email, that asks me to do something... or is simply from a certain person... and my brain freezes up. Two emails above that was an email from a man who (for heaven only knows why) found me attractive and wanted to know if I swung that way. That email threw me for a loop. But Bruce’s threw me for a double loop-de-loop.
I mean... He’s BRUCE CAMPBELL... I’m supposed to cower in the shadows and behold his awesomness from afar. What if I get possessed by some sort of Candarian Demon Spirit? What if he pulls out his boom stick and lets me have it?
Sounds cool. So I wrote him back agreeing.
So, today comes along and the whole theory is that Bruce is going to swing by here, Geek Headquarters, and do the interview here. I’m supposed to get a call round 1830 hours to get a confirmation one way or another. So I sit and wait.
And wait. Mind you, it’s nowhere near the annointed time for the phone call, but my brain is in the freeze mode. The thought.... Bruce Campbell, might be coming to my house.... Is stuck on an endless loop. Just him walking into the house blesses my humble abode with some sort of cool virus which will breed superduper forms of uberly cool things to just happen here constantly.
To get my mind off of it, I call up a friend and he, Dad and I go out to eat and talk about LORD OF THE RINGS and HELLBOY. The two film projects that I seem to most blabber about right now. As we talk and eat and eat and talk I’m continually looking at my watch.... Checking the time. Feeling like Alice’s pesky white rabbit.
Soon, I tell my eating partner, “I have to get home... Waiting on a Bruce to come over! Come on! We have to go!”
Said friend begins making JACK OFF hand signs, when suddenly he stops and says... “Ya know... Bruce should be HELLBOY!” Hmmm... Ya know... I thought... He’s right! I’ll have to tell Guillermo that.
Then I get home. Tick Tock Tick Tock.... Rrrrrrrringggg... It’s Time! Uh huh.... Yeah. Oh. Ummm.. Yeah... Sure... naaah, that’s no prob. Right... See ya later.
FUCK! My house will not be annoited with Bruce coolness! There goes my scheme to sell my tap water with red food coloring over the site! Shit!
So... It is suddenly off for the Alamo. I grab my digital Sony Mavica camera and a fresh disk. Dad grabs one of the most gnarly grotesque slimy looking decayed pieces of human flesh molded into a hand we have for Bruce to sign, and we’re off!
Once in the Alamo I head up the stairs just as Tim told me. When I get to the top, I’m told Tim and Bruce are not there yet... butterflies in stomach flapping about... Ugh... He’s gonna embarrass me on camera, I just know it. He’ll hit me with trees and railroad irons... He’ll then draw and quarter me.
As I stand atop the Alamo’s upper floor, I look down at the doors at the bottom of the stairs. Looking at the people down there... slightly over-exposed by the bright light of day. Each of them awaiting the Bruce and the Films. Each one of them... eager. However, the ones on the right had tickets... while those on the left are praying that scalpers will arrive with high priced... nay.... nearly over-priced tickets (though for this event... there is no such thing!) I keep looking down there... awaiting Bruce to come through those doors.
Meanwhile the merchandise table opens up. The poster that is atop this page is procured for a mere $10 autographed by the man the legend. Not to mention the ultra GROOVY... EVIL DEAD HOLY WATER, Offered for sale at many fine establishments including S-Mart for a mere $3... By the way... it is real Holy Water... blessed twice... Once by the Catholic church... the second time by an ordained priest as TIM brought the box in the Alamo. This Priest was in line to see the Evil Dead trilogy! How cool is that?
Then, Bruce arrives in a swinging Hawaiian shirt with olives, martinis, and what I beleive may be pretzels or finger sandwiches or potato chips. I’m not real sure. And as is often the case with icons that you build up from film, when looking at him... The first thought that comes to mind is....
I could take him.
Then the second thought comes in....
Hmmm... He’s a normal guy. Sure he’s got that... Bruce voice. And he’s got that Bruce face... But other than that... He’s just a normal fella. He seems to have had no long term ill effects due to.... all that has happened in that cabin and a thousand years ago.... And his new fake hand seems seemingly real.
I don’t bother him as he comes up the stairs, he’s more or less just getting a feel for the place. Thinking of how he’s going to be shooting his Docu in here. The filming equipment and pair of tech guys follow him on in.
Once he get’s everything set up, he heads down to the base of the stairs to film all the fans coming in and to greet them. Ya know... that’s pretty cool. I decide to head into the theater area myself.
But before I get in, Bruce asks me... “Let me ask you bit of trivia...” oh shit... I’m sooo fucking doomed...”...you know in the first Evil Dead, when...” FUCK, I haven’t seen the first Evil Dead.... I was saving the experience for the Screen! “...Just kidding... Hey... we have to do this Interview thing with you, but we need to know at which part in this thing you want to do it. Basically... Do ya wanna miss part of the first film or the second film?”
FUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!!!! I don’t wanna miss part of either. But Ash wants to torture me, and given that is a cool thing, I figure why the hell not.
“Well, I haven’t seen the first film...” I say meekly.
“WHAT?!?!?!?” Bruce exclaims, I feel like a wart on the ass of a she-bitch. I explain to him about my desire to see it first on the big screen, and he thought that was cool. So I tell him, that I’ll do it during EVIL DEAD II. Man... I really don’t want to miss any of that... But... Goddamit... At the same time.... It means hanging around Bruce while bright lights are shoved in my face and a man with a fuzzy club over my head is listening and a camera dude is filming and Bruce is grilling me. I can feel like I’m in some sort of cheesy Film Noir and I just got caught selling crack to three year olds! Cool!
I head into the theater and get my regular seat.... 1109... Should be renamed “Big Ass’s seat” cause... I’ve just about never seen anybody else sit there.
As Dad and I sit down we pour our water, and watch as Tom Joad arrives... followed by Quint, Ginger Snatch and Super Slut. Then... Johnny Wad... and a few minutes later... Peter Blood.
This was the hardest event to get into at the Alamo ever... Even for me. Tickets sold out instantly when they went on sale... and they wound up over-booking. So there were extra seats all alongside the walls and one extra on either side of each row. Some people were just standing and sitting on the floor. The power of Bruce compelled them.
The energy in the room was that of a shitload of excited geeks. The predominant thought had to have been... “Oh gosh... Oh golly... Ash is here... Ash is here... Ash is here...” Yes, Ash is here.
Meanwhile on the Alamo’s screen an onslaught of horror trailers were playing out. Trailers like... “COLOR ME BLOOD RED, I DISMEMBER MAMA, PUSH STEPHANIE IN THE INCINERATOR and of course the classic... CANNIBAL FEROX (aka MAKE THEM DIE SLOWLY)”
Suddenly a spotlight hits the stage, and the crowd roars, bellows and shrieks. Suddenly from out of the shadows appears the ma....
Oh... it’s Tim... Mr. Alamo. The crowd calms... you can feel their neurons racing back and forth. For a while it seems as if Tim is speaking in the Charlie Brown... Adult “wanna wa waaa wa waaaaaaa” sorta voice, but as the adrenal gland stops pumping so damn hard it begins... “waa wadda upcoming events like the first annual Cannibal film festival in August/September... we’ll be serving real human flesh those nights” The crowd begin hootin’ and hollerin’. An electricity is moving through the crowd.
Then Tim says, “The man I’m sure you are all waiting to see and hear, the man of the hour.... Mr Bruce Campbellllllllllll” his voice trailed off as the audience screamed and yelled and clapped and whistled and stood and stomped their feet and clamored and exclaimed.
Bruce came out and started conducting the audience. Lowering the applause, but then raising it up again. He reminded me of an insane Stokowski awaiting a rabid Mickey to interrupt him.
He’s being very ‘Bruce Campbell-y’. And I know that sounds retarded... But... I just got this feeling that he doesn’t go around all the time doing the TERRIBLE PUNS he was doing. But ya know... each one of those bricks knocked us all silly. Hee hee heeeee...
Then he said, “I want to make an announcement. There will be an Evil Dead 4!”
The crowd roars and screams and shouts and stands on the feet cheering and cheering. Bruce just looks at them all smiling, then adds... “When Monkeys fly out of my ass! Do you think I want to do another of these crazy films?” The audience screams “YES!” And Bruce smiles..
The audience was up for this. He decides to begin interacting with the audience... asking them questions, like “How did the Evil Dead films change your life?” And then mulling over their answers....
“Well man, it was like the first bit of High Art that didn’t like bore the shit out of me!” exclaimed one particularly odd looking fella in a perfect click of odd lookers. Though if that ain’t a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is.
Bruce was being pure classic up there. Talking about how evil Sam Raimi is. How Sam loved the fact that Bruce was his video game. Like the time he was strapped to spinning X and Sam was given the controls. Bruce would do this high erratic nervous voice (aka his Sam voice) and start miming messing with the controls... Talking about how fast he (Sam) could get him (Bruce) to turn and then reverse direction, etc... The audience was in stitches...
He started taking polls on who in the audience was a ‘gore hound’.... And my hand, along with everyone on my row’s hand shot up, and sporadic hands around the theater as well. Seems the AICN crew has an abnormal lust for comedic gore.
Then he asked, “How many of you people think that Army of Darkness represented me and Sam selling out?”
The audience reaction to this was almost unified, “Nooooo.... Y’all rule....” types of responses... But there was a “YES! YOU DID!” in there.
That’s when Bruce stopped the audience with a, “Who said that?” The audience hushed. He began pointing out into the crowd... ‘Did you say that?’ The funniest damn panic seemed to sweep the room. Everyone terrified of being labeled as being the guy or gal that said Bruce sold out. “We’re not gonna kill ya, I’m just curious.” And the weasal answered.
“Oh, so you’re the little bastard. Ok Mr Smarty Pants, why do you think that?”
And Mr Smarty Pants says, “Because man.... There wasn’t enough gore. It was too cute!” This is when Ginger Snatch sitting next to me exclaims.... “He’s Right!”
I look at her horrified. Bitch, I think.
Bruce has obviously heard this before. And begins to get into it. “Ya know... The MPAA is a strange animal. The same year GOODFELLAS gets an R, with that little Joe Pesci stabbing that guy in the trunk 50 times...” Bruce then does a Pesci imitation, “die you fucking bastard die, you like this, take this...”the whole time he’s doing stabbing motions. “Meanwhile, Sam and I have moving skeletons and... BAM NC-17!”
He then does brief little intros for each film, and says he’ll be back for a Q&A after the movie.
THE EVIL DEAD....
You know what? I really had a strange reaction to this film with this audience. To me, it felt more earnest than the previous films. There were a few comedic moments, but really... I felt it was more of a straight horror film.
The audience though... seemed a bit programmed by the other two movies to simply laugh because well... Aren’t they supposed to laugh?
I didn’t particularly feel that this was like the other films other than some of the stylistic camera moves and abundance of various liquids spewing. I really liked this film, and was a bit pissed that I hadn’t seen it before.
You see.... doodily doo....doodily doo... Back in 1990 when I got my first dose of EVIL DEAD 2, the person who brought it by on tape told me to be ready for a surprise. Well... I loved the film, and instantly knew to ask.... “How’s the first one?” He told me that he thought it sucked. He hated it. That it would be a waste of my time to see it. So... because I often agreed with this guy that instead of seeing the first one.... I would simply rewatch the second film over and over and over and over again.
Right now, I’m currently thinking about reconsidering seeing numerous films he warned me against... simply to check and be sure. (A practice that I should have been practicing all along.)
That end sequence where he is trying to... well... do what it is he’s trying to do (just in case you haven’t seen it) Well.... I thought it was tense as all hell. I mean. Jesus. The guy just doesn’t look like he can win. He’s a complete pansy ass in this film. There’s two of them... and his ass is grass.
In all... I think I have a new ranking in terms of the EVIL DEAD movies...
Evil Dead is the best Horror film of the lot.
Evil Dead II is the best film of the lot.
ARMY OF DARKNESS has the best BRUCE of the lot.
As the film begins to end, I start thinking about the movie and how it fits in. But quickly.... Bruce hops back up on stage.
He asks, “Is there any questions about that film?”
A guy along the wall asks Bruce, “Well is it true that Raimi feels this film leads into the next film as a sequel, but you need to edit the second film up to where Bruce gets knocked through the forest. And from there on it’s a sequel?”
Bruce kinda looked a bit pained, but acknowledges that Sam has... “all kind of theories...” spoken with the height of sarcasm. He then went into confirming that for the guy.
Next a guy asked, “Is it true... I mean, I’ve heard this, But I just want to like know if it is true. But that anyways... I heard that Sam is passing on the mantle of the Evil Dead films to a younger filmmaker and I was just wondering if you were like involved and are you going to be Ash in that?”
Bruce stares at the guy as if he’s on some sort of candy stick product with an excessive amount of sugar. Then says, “Well.... That’d be Bullshit, so I don’t have to answer any of that.”
Bruce went on for an hour. Telling stories of how Sam likes to torture him. And fling fruit really hard at him. And how in the Evil Dead films he lights to really knock the shit out of the actors... and then giggle and act all, “I won’t do that again.... Can we go again...” and then he’d hit em twice as hard.
Bruce was loaded with stories about Dino DeHorrendous and Bob Shaye-dy, and numerous other... unsavories. He was asked what he thought of the state of horror films, and he said that there really weren’t horror films today. That these teen movies, with their pop-soundtracks and knife wielders... Well... they’re just not horror films. He then asked the audience to go out and make real live fucking horror movies. It may suck, but at least you tried!
The funniest bits were when Bruce began reading e-mail that he had been sent. And folks... I swear to God I wish I could remember, but I was laughing so hard that my brain was bouncing against the interior of my skull and I damaged those cells’ ability to retain the humor.
But... the letters were just dead on... And the way Bruce read them... Man... this should be a movie (and it is... coming from Bruce Campbell.) We were dying!
Next Bruce gave us a chance to take a piss, and I realized this is when I needed to go out and meet up with him to do the interview.
Bruce had to pose for a million pictures and sign a bajillion autographs, but... He smiled through it all. Being the trooper. He reminded me of what I imagine Betty Grable must’ve felt like during those USO tours of by gone ages.
Finally, we end up in the secret room beneath the projection room. Bruce, me and his crew of two.
First off.... To explain how cool this setting was. Let me go...
Imagine you are me. You are in a room, about twelve feet long by six feet wide, by eight feet tall. Alongside all the walls, from floor to cieling is liquor and beer. More beer than is possibly imaginable. Surrounded by Guinness and Heiniken and vodka and rum and all sorts of flavored alcoholic additives. Bags of unpopped popcorn surrounds me. Above me, I can hear through the cieling, the footsteps of Tim, as he’s readying up EVIL DEAD 2. The sound man, Wayne Bell, was the guy who composed the score for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. And the video guy? Well he was Kurt Raut... He’s from Vegas, home of neon and other coolities.
They have me lean up against the wall of beer and begin the interview. They’re going for natural flourescent lighting, so inevitably I’ll have a jaundiced look...
Bruce then begins asking questions about fandom. My experiences with them. Where it began. Where it is headed. What has happened with the internet. The types of fans. Who am I. Psycho fan stories. Is fan-fantasies healthy. Why are fans never satisfied.
Good questions, and I think I did a good job of answering them. Wow. So I guess now, I’ve been directed by Robert Rodriguez, Simon Callow, Robert Bella and Bruce Campbell. Cool. Two actors and two directors. Strange.
Afterwards, Bruce and I talked for a bit. I could tell he didn’t want to be asked about the whole Evil Dead thing. He’s exhausted that subject for the evening. So instead I ask him what’s next. Well... he’s off to New Zealand to film the last filmed episode of Hercules, and he had just finished directing the last episode of Hercules that’ll air. He’s not sure how much longer Xena will air. Beyond that, he’s not too sure. He’s got a book coming out from St Martin’s Press, and he’s working on this documentary.
Ya know. Bruce is a real nice guy. He’s charismatic as hell. Of course that audience was in his corner, but you know... That audience sees everything he’s in. Whether it be 3 minutes of CONGO or some cheesy straight to video flick.
Ya know... It’s kinda sad though. I just get the feeling that if Hollywood could wake up this guy is a star waiting to happen. And I don’t mean a cult star. I mean a for real star. But at the same time, I get the sense that Bruce revels in his cult status, for real.
As he said, “What do I want... a thousand fans that see my movie 10 times or 10 fans that see the movie a thousand times.” He would like the 10. He’s able to walk the earth without being pushed into a wall to sign autographs out of the blue, and he cherishes that freedom.
But ya know. I get the sense that he and Sam have something planned. I don’t know. Call it the fanboy in me, but... Right now, Sam is in the midst of carving out an ‘established director’ role in Hollywood. He’s got this Costner film, A SIMPLE PLAN before that... and he’s ‘playing ball’ a bit. But at the same time I know that Sam is an evil bastard. Bruce said as much on stage. And while he’s directing this Hollywood film and that Hollywood film. I get the sense that he’s pulling a Steven Soderbergh... Where he uses the Hollywood films to end up financing his own films. Or at least that’s my belief.
We’ll see. After saying adieu to Bruce, I headed back in to catch the last 30 minutes of EVIL DEAD 2. What a joy. A film that is just fiercely original. I love this film completely. Ya know... I missed the first of the film, and I hate missing it... but the entire time that interview was going on... the sound of the projector cranking came through the cieling. The cheers of the crowd and the sound of the film through the walls and through the cans of intoxicants. And there.... unharmed, unbloody and completely sane was Bruce Campbell.
It’s soooo utterly bizarre. God, I love the Alamo Drafthouse. In a few weeks Tim’s bringing two munchkins from THE WIZARD OF OZ to the Alamo... and ya know. I’m happy as can be.
An amazing world ya know. Simply amazing.
As I watched EVIL DEAD 3... ARMY OF DARKNESS... I just smiled. My eyes were a bit glazed over, and I was happy. Beside me laid conked out and exhausted the sleepy bodies of Super Slut and her concubine Tom Joad. Leaning into one another with sweet little smiles as they dreamed of Candarian demons and devilish books. Of chainsaws and shotguns, and of Remingtons and flying eyeballs.
On the table in front of Dad laid our hand, with the silver signature of Bruce Campbell... “ASH” and beside me was Ginger Snatch.... Wide eyed with a shit eating grin. Johnny Wad was laughing in hysterics (He’d never seen an Evil Dead film) and Quint had his head upon his hands as he was transformed.
What an evening. I had to take you guys with me. Sleep well. Good night.
To read the review on ARMY OF DARKNESS click here
All Photographs Taken Digitally With Harry's New Cybernetic WetWare Sony Mavica operated by... Harry