“Evil Dead” star fights Chinese god

By Rory McCarty

Senior Reporter

Self-described B movie actor Bruce Campbell rose to cult movie fame when he appeared in the “Evil Dead” movie trilogy. He played an elderly Elvis in the critically acclaimed “Bubba Ho-Tep” and is currently on the popular USA television drama “Burn Notice.”

But now, Campbell is starring in a movie that spoofs the less illustrious side of his career in “My Name is Bruce.”

The film from Dark Horse Indie will be shown at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak Nov. 21-23, with Campbell appearing for Q&A sessions between showings.

Campbell, a native of Royal Oak, plays himself in “My Name is Bruce,” albeit an alcoholic, obnoxious version of himself who is abusive to his fans and lives in a trailer.

The plot of the movie involves the small mining town of Gold Lick, Oregon, which has a curse placed on it that unleashes Guan-Di, an ancient Chinese god of war. Guan-Di starts to kill the relatives of those who disturbed the graveyard of the Chinese miners, which accounts for all of the inbred community. Jeff, the sole survivor of a Guan-Di attack, kidnaps his hero, Bruce Campbell, to defend Gold Lick against Guan-Di.

At first, Campbell thinks his captors are part of a movie experience, but when he realizes the killings are real he has to become the hero he’s played in movies for years.

“It’s a redemptive story,” Campbell said.

Campbell described his character as a “real jerk version of himself,” but said he enjoys playing in a film that parodies his life.

“It’s fun because I know what my life is,” Campbell said. “In real life, my trailer is a lot bigger and little bit cleaner.”

Even though Campbell makes light of his career in “My Name is Bruce,” the film also parodies his more overenthusiastic fans, such as the character Jeff (Taylor Sharpe), who idolizes Campbell.

“If I’m going to be weird, I’m taking them down with me,” he said.

In one scene, a fan asks Campbell if his appearances on Ellen Degeneres’ sitcom made him gay, a question that Campbell said was taken from real life.

However, it’s certain that this is a film that was made with his fans in mind, with plenty of nods to Campbell’s other works, such as when Campbell refuses to use a chainsaw to fight the monster because it’s “too damn heavy.”

When producer Mike Richardson and writer Mark Verheiden approached Campbell to appear in the film, they also offered him the chance to direct, something they knew Campbell was interested in. Campbell said he enjoys directing as much as he does acting because he gets to be more involved with the production.

Campbell has directed on “The Man With The Screaming Brain” and episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess,” both of which he also appeared in.

Campbell said that these days he is pickier about what sort of films he does, but some bad films just can’t be foreseen.

“The movie ‘Congo’ looked great on paper. And then it happened to suck,” Campbell said. Campbell auditioned for the lead in “Congo” but instead got a small role in the beginning of the movie based on a Michael Crichton novel.

As for the possibility of doing another “Evil Dead” movie with director Sam Raimi, Campbell said he and Raimi both have very favorable opinions of the first “Evil Dead” movies, and that the relevance and impact of films go down the more sequels that they produce.

“Jason six. I defy anyone to tell me the plot of that movie,” Campbell said.

“I don’t know if I want to get beat up again,” he said. Raimi was notoriously hard on Campbell during filming in attempts to get visual injury gags the way he wanted them.

Some of the more slapstick moments of “My Name Is Bruce” hearken back to his days working with Raimi making the “Evil Dead” films, but Campbell said that it wasn’t hard to make the transition from the seriousness of “Burn Notice” back to slapstick.

“Burn Notice,” which Campbell is signed on to do for five years.

While Campbell has possibly gained more widespread recognition from doing “Burn Notice,” he said he would never want to become an A-list celebrity.

“I revel in my anonymity,” he said.

In addition to his acting and directing career, Campbell has written two books, an autobiography titled “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor” and a novel, “Make Love The Bruce Campbell Way.”