Bruce Campbell Reflects On ‘The Evil Dead,’ ‘Bruce Versus Frankenstein’ And Why He’s So Awesome

Sam Raimi’s classic horror film “The Evil Dead” arrives on Blu-ray next Tuesday, exactly one week from today. In addition to a lovely-looking hi-def transfer and what is apparently the first available version of the movie in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio — which is actually full screen, compared to the more standard 1.85:1 widescreen — there’s also a bonus DVD of behind-the-scenes content and an all-new audio commentary with Raimi, star Bruce Campbell and producer Robert Tapert.

The commentary is pretty stellar. Making “The Evil Dead” was a four-year process for these guys, 12 weeks of which were spent in what sounds like the absolute hell of shooting at that cabin. Joking statements are made comparing the experience there to that of Vietnam, and the anecdotes the shared range from appalling to downright frightening. Raimi, Campbell and Tapert have all known each other for a very long time, and that relationship really comes out in their back-and-forth banter.

Campbell was kind enough to take some time to chat with MTV News this past weekend, and he seemed very excited to be talking about this movie that was so instrumental in launching his career… and not just because it was his first feature.

MTV News: What’s it like for you now to watch “The Evil Dead” now, almost 30 years later?

Bruce Campbell:Now it’s a time capsule for me. It captured a certain moment of my life when I was 21. It represents a lot of things– it was our first movie, and any first movie is always going to stick with you. Especially if that movie was successful. Sometimes there’s an odd notion that I don’t like those movies or I don’t like to talk about them or whatever. It’s just not true. It’s just nobody asks new questions about them. But the movies themselves I’m actually very happy with. And ’Evil Dead,’ look: it’s a rough-around-the-edges movie, it’s a low-budget movie. The fun thing about it is there’s not a single CGI shot in the whole movie. This is a handmade, you are there kind of movie where we used real ammunition in the shotgun, we went to a real location, found a real cabin. It’s as real as you can get.

MTV News: Throughout the commentary, you guys really speak at length about the production, from its inception to the endgame of getting it out to the world. It’s fantastic, a wild story–

Bruce Campbell: Well it’s an odyssey. It was four years of non-stop work. I get advice from filmmakers all the time, and the advice was ’stick your nose down, stick your head in and get ready to piss four years of your life up a rope.’ This is a time-consuming thing, especially if you want to follow it through. Some filmmakers go ’I made my movie, I’m done!’ That’s baloney, you’ve just begun. So it’s all the phases, everything you have to go through to come up with an idea for a movie. And then you go, ’All right, well how do we get money for it.’ Those are two big hurdles already, just coming up with an idea that’s worth shooting and then how the hell do you finance it. Then the production is its own crazy nightmare and then there’s part four [which is] how do we sell this movie in order to make money, so I can make another movie. So for us it was four years. For some people it’s longer, some people it’s shorter. We felt satisfied that all the effort we put into it, we finally got it back.

MTV News: What was the most memorable thing for you during this four year process?

Bruce Campbell: [Learning] what it really takes to make a real movie. We had made a bunch of amateur movies, a bunch of Super-8 movies in [that] format. It was nothing like this because of how extensive it was. To make a little amateur movie, you’re shooting that on a Saturday. Shooting a pie fight or something some Saturday afternoon and then you go home and do something else. Here… we shot for 12 weeks. The average low-budget movie shoots for about three weeks. So we were already four times longer than the average movie being shot. We didn’t know though. We also had no idea about scheduling, about how long things would take. We were scheduled for six weeks and we stayed there for 12. We also learned how crazy Sam Raimi is too. He’s got an idea; we had days where we only got one shot and that’s because of him. He’d come up with these ridiculous shots and we’d have to figure out without any money how to get those ridiculous shots. So we really needed a mechanic on the crew.

MTV News: Also in the commentary, all of you compare the experience of the shoot to Vietnam. You came back and had a sort of “mild post-traumatic stress disorder”–

Bruce Campbell: Yeah, I slept on the floor of my bedroom for a month and grew a beard.

MTV News: Has anything you’ve done since then compared in terms of the scale, the “odyssey” of it?

Bruce Campbell: ’Army of Darkness’ is a pretty close second. ’Evil Dead’ was a big odyssey with no money. ’Army of Darkness’ was a big odyssey with more money. We had, whatever, $11 million to make it. But that was with creature comforts: you had a lot of assistance and you had help. People would clean you up and dust you off and clean your clothes at night. With ’Evil Dead’ we did our own laundry, there was no assistance to nobody. We weren’t even collecting a salary. When other actors complain about a shoot, I just laugh.

MTV News: Do you think we’ll ever see another ’Evil Dead’ movie?

Bruce Campbell: I don’t really know. It depends on how bored Sam Raimi gets. He’s making a lot of A movies right now. Maybe when I’m in the old actor’s home and he’s losing his vision we’ll make another one. I don’t think either of us are against it. But you know, these are extremely physical movies in every sense of the word. So I don’t know. I’m 52 now, I don’t know if I need that s–t anymore.

MTV News: Well you’re taking on Frankenstein next [in ’Bruce Vs. Frankenstein’], aren’t you…

Bruce Campbell: Well sure. But that’ll be my stuntman versus Frankenstein.

MTV News: And that’s what you’re doing next?

Bruce Campbell: Yes. We were hoping to do it during the middle of this break in my ’Burn Notice’ TV schedule but I’m making a ’Burn Notice’ TV movie instead about my character. It’s a prequel movie about how Sam Axe got stuck in Miami. So we had to push [’Bruce Vs. Frankenstein.’] Hopefully we’ll do it during the next break.

MTV News: Have you cast ’Bruce Vs. Frankenstein’ at all yet?

Bruce Campbell: No, but basically I want every horror movie icon in the movie. I want it to be the ’Mad, Mad, Mad World’ of horror movies.

MTV News: As far as Sam goes, I know he’s working on ’Warcraft’ and ’Oz, The Great and Powerful.’ Have you spoken to him, any chance we’ll see you in those?

Bruce Campbell: I’m sure it’s possible. But Sam’s got so many things up in the air that I just wait until something settles. Then I’ll give him an obnoxious phone message saying ’Come on, where’s my part jerk?’ and then hang up.

MTV News: This last one comes from a reader: Bruce Campbell, why are you so awesome?

Bruce Campbell: Well now it’s because of longevity. I refuse to go away. I think that’s probably it. I’m the guy at the party who, you look around and you go, ’God, that guy’s still here?’