After grilling him about Bruce-O-Rama and his publishing ambitions, Bruce Campbell graciously discussed Evil Dead Rise and more with me. He seems genuinely proud of the latest installment in the Evil Dead saga, on which he serves as executive producer alongside Sam Raimi, with Rob Tapert producing. Written and directed by Lee Cronin, it hits theaters on April 21.

Lee Cronin did a really bang-up job. You can expect to be very disturbed. It’s when mommies go bad. We dragged it out of the woods. We’re in an urban environment, which gives it a really gnarly feel. I think people are in for trouble. I feel sorry for audiences in advance!”

Campbell compares Evil Dead Rise‘s tone to that of Fede Álvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead reboot. “Both filmmakers are equally capable individuals, so they both really just spanked it. It’s not a yuk-fest. It’s not hardy-har-har. It’s not Ash shooting finger guns. This is real shit going down. These guys took it real seriously. Lee Cronin is Irish, and he brings kind of a European feel to this thing.”

He also praises the special effects work in the upcoming film. “No one will ever be able to make fun of the Evil Dead special effects ever again as long as I’m alive. They used to love to do that; cheese-ball effects, garden hoses spewing stuff. Well, you know what? Eat it, bitches, because this is good stuff you’re about to see!”

More than a mere vanity credit, Campbell was hands-on with Evil Dead Rise. “I spent a month and a half in Europe last year on the post-production and all the sound. We sort of split up our duties. I like to get involved in the casting and post-production. Rob Tapert oversees the production in New Zealand. And Sam Raimi’s the Great Poobah. He’s the orchestrator. He makes sure it fits the Evil Dead mold.”

‘Evil Dead Rise’

Campbell enjoys the freedom of working behind the camera. “It’s what makes the wheels turn sometimes. As an actor, you don’t have control over stuff. As a producer, you have control, so I produce as much stuff as I can get my hands on, just to be involved. It allows you to do your own thing. In a creative industry, I don’t really want to be told what to do by pretty much anybody, especially if you’ve been in it for a while.”

While Campbell has officially retired his iconic Ash Williams character on screen, an animated Evil Dead continuation series is still in the early stages of development. “All I can say is we’re actively pursuing it. Sam’s a busy guy. He had a big hit movie, so he’s got a lot on his plate, but he and his brother are actively shaping out the world. It’s one thing to get an animator and say, ‘Hey, animate this!’ You’ve got to know what you’re going to animate. I look forward to it, because my voice hasn’t aged as much as I have.”

In the interim, Campbell recently reprised the role in Evil Dead: The Game. Although graphics have advanced considerably, he assures me that not much has changed since voicing Ash in games made some two decades ago. “It’s the same idiot. I try him eight different ways to Sunday, and then the game folks make sure to steer me in the right direction. They sort of guide you through it, but it’s the same process. Same dope, lots of ad-libs.”

‘Bubba Ho-Tep’

I was curious to hear Campbell’s retrospection on Bubba Ho-Tep after I cited it as his career-best performance in my recent 4K UHD review. “The beauty that I have is that no one can compare my performance, because nobody really [played Elvis] as an old geezer. Maybe if I did him as a young guy you’d have some comparisons. It was funny to play Elvis when I was 42, because that’s how old he was when he died, and I thought, ‘Goddamn, I feel good at 42. That guy must have pushed it!’”

While writer-director Don Coscarelli continues to keep the hope alive for the long-gestating Bubba Ho-Tep sequel, Campbell remains uncertain. “I think it’d have to be a different script at this point. The one we were thinking of is 15 years old now. I don’t want to push it. It’s okay that some movies just get their one little gem. Joe Lansdale wrote a very special story. Scripts in Hollywood are like rare gems; you only find it after lots of digging over many, many years.”

As for his more recent ventures, two of Campbell’s latest acting credits are in the Hallmark Christmas movies One December Night and My Southern Family Christmas. “I’m a Hallmark guy now!” he proudly declares. “We’ll see if Hallmark calls again. Otherwise my year is kind of booked already, so if any actual work comes up other than touring I’ll have to shove it in.”

In his downtime, Campbell enjoys watching television with his wife. “We love Succession. Can’t wait for that to come back. I got into Yellowstone, but I’m a little disturbed by it. It’s actually a horribly violent show, and I know what I’m talking about! I have PTSD from watching that show. Every silent moment I think someone’s gonna fall in a river or get their head shot off. It’s the weirdest thing. I’ve got through four seasons, and I don’t know if I can do five!”

Get your tickets to see Campbell on the Bruce-O-Rama tour next month. As he enthusiastically puts it, “It’s a fucking blast! This is not for stiffs. It’s not your dad’s game show. We have a damn good time.”

April 5:  Greenville, SC (Gunter Theatre @ The Peace Center)
April 6: Cincinnati, OH (The Taft Theatre)
April 7: Pelham, TN (The Caverns)
April 8: Atlanta, GA (Variety Playhouse)
April 10:  Durham, NC (Carolina Theatre-Fletcher Hall)
April 11: Richmond, VA (The National)
April 12: Reading, PA (Santander Performing Arts Center)
April 13: Rockville, MD (Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center)
April 14: Glenside, PA (Keswick Theatre)
April 15: Patchogue, NY (Patchogue Theatre)
April 16: Beverly, MA (Cabot Theatre)
April 18: Buffalo, NY (Buffalo Riverworks)
April 19: Pittsburgh, PA (Stage AE)
April 20: Cleveland, OH (Agora Theater & Ballroom)
April 21:  Columbus, OH (KEMBA Live!)
April 23:  Royal Oak, MI (Royal Oak Music Theatre)
April 24:  Indianapolis, IN (Clowes Memorial Hall)
April 25: Chicago (The Vic Theatre)
April 26: Des Moines, IA (Hoyt Sherman Place)
April 27:  Kansas City, MO (Uptown Theatre)
April 29:  Oklahoma City, OK (Tower Theatre)
April 30:  Dallas, TX (Texas Theatre)

Alex DiVincenzo

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