Break out your chainsaws, for it’s the king’s birthday. Bruce Campbell turns 56 today and I’ve decided to honor the man who has given us great characters like Bubba Ho-Tep and Sam Axe by paying tribute to his greatest character — and certainly the greatest horror hero — Ash Williams.
Initially, I had planned to roll out a piece dedicated solely to Bruce Campbell’s chin, but it got a bit redundant after fact #3. So instead, here are some “groovy” things you might not know about Bruce’s involvement with the Evil Dead franchise and the possibility of a new film.
1. The money for The Evil Dead came from dentists. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi had been friends in high school before deciding to try to make a movie together. After they had filmed an 8mm short of the horror film they wanted to make, Raimi arranged for a group of dentists to watch the short, hoping they would invest. Campbell told Jon Favreau that the wives were horrified, but one of the dentist gave them the money he would have blown in Vegas to help fund the movie.
“We had one guy give us money because he didn’t go to Vegas that year. He says “I usually take two grand and blow it in Vegas, well, here’s my Vegas money.” So he sends me 17 times his money. We were pretty happy about that.”
2. A zombie couple had Bruce Campbell officiate their wedding. Campbell’s legend status among horror fans reached a new height when a Seattle couple asked Ash to officiate their wedding. The couple had their “Evil Dead Wedding” at 2010 ZombCon with both couples dressed as the undead for the ceremony. Other zombie couples in attendance of the ZombCon jumped at the chance for Campbell to renew their vows and he was kind enough to stick around for an additional 40 couples! As reported by KOMO News, he even went so far as to add a nice zombified touch to the vows:
“You know that things will not always be easy in your relationship … you will occasionally find yourself stumbling on your path together unsure of what lies ahead.But there will always be one thing in your life that you can count on, one thing you will both seek out relentlessly, and one thing that will consume you both, and that one thing is – brrrains. … Ah, I’m sorry, I mean love.”
3. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi started a rumor about an on-set injury. Actors are occasionally hurt while filming, but even when they’re not the idea that they were still makes for good fodder, at least in the mind of Sam Raimi. The recap of Evil Dead includes a shot where the “evil force” runs through the cabin, slamming into Ash. Word spread that Campbell had received a broken jaw during this scene when Raimi accidentally rammed the camera into his face. There were no broken bones as the rumor was started by Raimi and Campbell as a joke to see how many people would believe it.
4. Bruce Campbell wasn’t allowed in cars while filming The Evil Dead. At the end of each day’s filming, Campbell was covered in so much fake blood that nobody wanted him sitting in their car and ruining the seat’s upholstery. Campbell was forced to ride in the back of a pickup truck on the drive back to his hotel.
5. Physically making Evil Dead II wasn’t a joyous experience. The first Evil Dead was an incredibility low-budget 12 week shoot, but its success meant more production for the sequel. This translated to 17 hour days in the North Carolina summer sun with Campbell being engulfed in flies for much of the shoot. Via Total Film:
“We filmed in North Carolina in the summer, which was extremely hot, and the blood that I had on my face and my body was still a sugar based syrup, so I had flies all over me for the entire time. I would take naps with the fly swatters because there were flies everywhere. I was basically rotting.”
Besides the swarm of flies, it also meant doing stunts like being spun through the trees and dropped into a muddy puddle, something that Campbell described as bizarre torment:
“Being latched to a frame, held up in the air, spun around at 360 degrees while people were smashing you with branches the entire time was the most bizarre exercise and torment that I’ve ever experienced.”
6. Ash may be coming back for a follow-up to Army of Darkness. There have been rumors of a follow-up to Army of Darkness for years, and according to Bruce Campbell, it’s still an idea that Sam Raimi kicks around every few months.
“Sam Raimi threatens to write that with his brother this summer and you know, he threatens that every three months. But you know, he wants to keep that dream alive just like we do, we want to be able to do another one of these. I think we’re getting to the point where we might take it more seriously.”
*Bonus* Bruce Campbell collects photos of fans with Evil Dead tattoos. Campbell has been attending various horror and comic conventions since the late 1980s and constantly runs into fans with Evil Dead tribute tats. He makes sure to snap a photo whenever he sees a good one and so far has photos of around 150 Evil Dead fan tattoos in his album.