Blood Brother

Though he'll probably never win an Oscar, B-movie king Bruce Campbell has a truckload of credits and a devoted following

Rightfully, Bruce Campbell could have given his new memoir the same title John Madden gave his: Hey, Wait a Minute! I Wrote a Book!

Each of these guys is immersed in his own nonliterary professional realm (of violent entertainment), and the news that each has written an autobiography prompts the response "Can this guy actually write?"

The football analyst and the hammy horror-movie actor have something more in common -- they are both thoroughly beloved by their fans. When Campbell touches down to sign autographs at a sci-fi convention, the line winds around the block, and plenty of ladies beg him to sign their various rounded parts (it's all in the book). We'd rather not speculate on whether Madden gets a similar reception.

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Campbell's book actually has the cheeky title If Chins Could Kill. The book follows the lantern-jawed star of the Evil Dead trilogy from his Michigan youth and friendship with young filmmaker Sam Raimi through the early fake-blood-drenched days to forgettable turns in Darkman, The Hudsucker Proxy, Congo, McHale's Navy and Escape from L.A. to that perfect Campbell vehicle The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. up through his popular guest spots on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess as Autolycus, King of Thieves.

The absurdly heroic cut of Campbell's massive chin brings to mind that of Superman or comic book superbuffoon the Tick. But even before that chin had stopped growing, Raimi and Campbell, who would go on to become the Bergman and von Sydow of gory comedy, started making rowdy Super-8 films in high school.

At Raimi's suggestion, Campbell would often wind up getting smacked with a two-by-four for a laugh in one of their endless series of homegrowns. For the next 20 years, Raimi would direct Campbell in various projects, and the square-jawed physical comedian would be hit with a lot of boards.

Once they discovered their talent for combining humor with buckets of gore, they created their most enduring works, the $150,000 classic Evil Deadand the groundbreaking Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn. After nearly every day of the filming of the former, Campbell found himself coated with sticky, hardening fake blood, which is made mostly from corn syrup.

"Within weeks, we had cleaned out every local Quik Pik, Gas n' Go and bait shop of the essential ingredient: Karo syrup," he writes. "After each night of carnage and mayhem, I'd jump into the back of our rented pickup truck, soaked in blood like a mass murderer, and ride home. One Sunday morning, we passed a series of spit-polished families, bound for church. There really wasn't anything I could do but smile and wave like nothing was wrong.

"Back home, I'd walk straight into the shower, fully clothed, and let the hot water work its magic -- the only true solvents of Karo syrup were heat and time."

Tales from the making of the bloody Evil Dead movies are probably the highlight of the book. Campbell does an able job recalling what it was like to come through slaughter.

 
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