Exclusive: Bruce Campbell Talks Evil Dead on Blu-ray and Evil Dead 4 / Army of Darkness 2
With the release of Evil Dead on Blu-ray and DVD looming we got a chance to catch up with franchise icon Bruce Campbell who spoke about the home video release as well as potential sequels to the remake. Read on for the whole enchilada straight from the chin himself!
J. Blake: I’m curious to know what you think a young Bruce Campbell, circa 1978/79, would’ve thought if he was told that 35 years later he’d be producing a remake of Evil Dead and Sam (Raimi) would be directing an epic prequel to The Wizard of Oz.
Bruce Campbell: I think that guy would say, “Fuckin’ eh!” (we laugh) It was our first movie. It took us four years to finish it and it didn’t take off right away. So we didn’t know if this was a one shot deal. You know making a movie; if you fail with that one shot…we certainly would’ve failed with our investors in Detroit if it had failed. So we didn’t even know. No we couldn’t have known. We thought we were lucky to make that one movie, just to finish it and get it in a theater. So I guess it is all a bonus. It’s all downhill from there.
JB: I don’t think a lot of people realize that in addition to being the star, you were also one of the producers of the Evil Dead films. How did your role as producer for the new remake compare to what you did on the original series?
BC: Well now that we all have day jobs -- Sam was making Oz when we were doing the remake. Rob Tapert was finishing up with Spartacus and I was in my sixth season of "Burn Notice," which is seven months out of my life. So we tag teamed it. You know you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get it made. Rob oversaw the nuts and bolts of production. That’s why we did it in New Zealand, because he’s based out of there. They have excellent crews there; just topnotch people. Between Hercules, Xena and Lord of the Rings, as well as other shows, you have an industry there. So Rob did that part and then I’m a big fan of post (production), of editing and sound and all that. So when the season of Burn Notice ended, I hung out in L.A. right at the time when they were taking care of that business. So that’s when I jumped in and Rob backed off a little bit. And Sam (Raimi) is the grand poobah. He’s involved in all the editing decisions and the look of the movie and the sound of the movie. So he’s not distant from it, but you know he’s making these gigantic epics. So he’s not going to micro-manage. And he's very pro-director. I think Fede Alvarez (the director of the Evil Dead remake), if he works with other producers one day, I think he’s going to go, “Wow those guys were pretty good actually!” We rarely got in his face…only a couple of times.
JB: Judging from what is listed as the “special features” on the upcoming Evil Dead Blu-ray and from what you’ve said in recent interviews, it seems like you also had a bit to do with the casting and working with the actors.
BC: Right! That’s right, I forgot about that. Again tag teaming, casting is important to me. At least that is one thing I can participate in as a thespian. I can at least bring my side to it and the coolest thing about it was, actually, you’re sitting in a room with these actors. You know they can’t hide, because they are right there just a few feet from you. If they are faking it, you can smell it a mile away and I got to watch Fede interact with them to improve from take to take and to explain things…and by the end of the first couple of days, I was like, “We’re fine.” Because this director knows how to talk to actors and he knows what he’s doing and he is not full of shit. And I was like, “Oh thank God!” So that is half the battle right there, because if actors believe in their directors they will do anything for them. If they think their director is a jerk, then you’re doomed. So that was very helpful to me and then also, to be there when the lead people were cast and Fede and I had no major disagreements on that. We’d look at each other and go, “Yeah that guy was basically the best of the bunch” and believe me, we went through a lot. Evil Dead had a decent enough name that we got good actors to show up. So I thought that we put together a decent cast. Because these movies are hokey no matter what you’re going to do, but at least this time around we cast actors that had been in movies before. On the first Evil Dead none of us had done shit and you can kind of tell, but we had a lot of enthusiasm. That is what we had going for us, but I warned these actors too. I told them, “Hey, get ready! This will not be like any other movie you’ve made. You will go through a lot of physical issues. So don’t party. You’ve got to stay focused. This movie will end one day, but you’re going to wish it were going to end after only five days of shooting.” And I was right. (he laughs)
JB: Were any of them big fans of the original series?
BC: They were all pretty aware of it. Honestly it was their parents who were fans. They’d go, “Oh my God, my dad showed me that,” etc. So they were actually all too young to be direct fans of it, but they were all very aware of it and they were all aware that it is regarded as a decent low-budget weirdo horror movie. You know, they weren’t showing up to mock the movie.
JB: Was it weird working on an Evil Dead film that you weren’t starring in and Raimi wasn’t directing?
BC: Yeah it was, because it was its own beast. We couldn’t help, obviously, to have those influences…I mean I stuck so many of the original sound effects in that movie. If we needed something Fede would look over at me and go, (with an accent) “Bruce do you have any of your nostalgic effects,” that he would say with a little bit of distain and I’m like, “Yeah I got something right here.” We had all of the first couple of movies; they’ve re-mastered all of those horrorish sound effects tapes that we had and we have them all catalogued now. So I had a ball. I went into the studio with a sound editor for like four days and basically put together a “Roger Corman” sound job of the movie based on our original effects and I could always offer those up whenever we needed a little something or Fede was looking for something. I didn’t try and sell them too hard, but there are a couple of effects in there that, basically, only Sam Raimi and I know where they’re from and what the circumstances were for those particular sounds…which is fun. That is just a dumb thing that keeps us amused. We throw in little things.
Like there is one part in the cabin where the bad stuff happens in the new movie; there’s one room where all the shit goes down and that has a secret, buried in, original sound from the original wind in the original cabin, that we recorded for (the original) Evil Dead; that’s through most of the movie. We put it really low just in that one little room. Just to give it that same kind of feel, because it is a real creepy wind. We thought, “What the hell, let’s put a nice crisp clean version of it in there.”
It was actually fun working on an Evil Dead movie where you had sound that you could whiz around the room. The first Evil Dead was in mono. It wasn’t even in stereo for God’s sake! Now they go, “Where do you want that trap door?” “How about the lower right over here?” You know? “And then let’s move it over here to the left.” It draws your attention and it is just so clean and sharp and Roque Baños was great with the score. He basically did an operatic score. It couldn’t have been any bigger, but Fede wanted people to take it seriously. So he treated it like it was an epic story, even though it is kind of cheese-ball over the top.
It’s had a decent enough reaction, from watching enough screenings now…anyone looking for that, I think they will be fine with it. There are obviously going to be some people that are not looking for that and they didn’t have the same impression.
JB: Well I really enjoyed it and so has everyone that I’ve talked to. So it must be gratifying that the fans who are embracing it are being satisfied by it.
BC: Yes and that’s true, because they were very violently opposed to it. I love how (the original) Evil Dead suddenly got better the second we mentioned that we were going to do a remake. “You can’t remake that! That’s a classic!” I’m like, “Yeah? I read the reviews pal, from way back when.” (he laughs) It was not an instant classic. The L.A. Times called it an instant classic, but there were plenty of newspapers that were like, “This thing is the sickest of the sick.” It’s fine. I’m glad that it has aged well.
Read on for more on the next page!