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This is an interview conducted with Bruce Campbell via email on September 9, 2013, which covers the latter part of his Super-8 days, to Within The Woods and The Evil Dead.

As many will already know, aside from a very long list of film and television productions stretching back over the last 30 years, Bruce played the lead character of Ash in The Evil Dead, Evil Dead II & Army Of Darkness, along with roles in many of the Super-8 Short productions including It's Murder!, Within The Woods & Cleveland Smith: Bounty Hunter. Bruce's official website can be found at Bruce-Campbell.com, and his book 'If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor' covers his life extensively and is required reading for any fan of the trilogy. It can be found both on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.




Bruce Campbell posing alongside Bridget Hoffman in a promo photo taken by Mike Ditz for The Evil Dead (1981)



The two biggest Super-8 productions were probably The Happy Valley Kid and It's Murder!, aside from Within The Woods. Is there anything particularly you remember about your time on either production?  
 
Of course, but that's a pretty phat question as there are many things to recall on both productions. The Happy Valley Kid was something I worked on during weekends as I did not attend MSU. It was a very fun production that was well received.


Bruce, with Ellen Sandwiess & Sam Raimi, taken while working on It's Murder! (1978)

A promo photo for It's Murder! (1978)

It's Murder! was the Heaven's Gate of Super-8 - expensive for its day and it took forever to finish up and bombed when we showed it. I still have some personal fave scenes in It's Murder! I'm partial to the tennis scene.


I always had a soft spot for It's Murder!, as a film-maker myself I find it hard to be dismissive of other people's work knowing how hard it is even to get reliable people who turn up to filming, let alone getting that finished image on the screen. Were you surprised it fared so badly, especially after the success of The Happy Valley Kid?  
 
Filmmakers are always surprised when their little baby doesn't do well. That never changes, no matter what the movie or budget.



A grainy photo of Bruce in Tom Sullivan's 'posessed' make-up in Within The Woods (1979)
Up until Clockwork, Within The Woods & The Evil Dead, the majority of the previous shorts' effects had been of the slap-stick variety. Did you have any qualms about travelling down that more violent and gory avenue?  
 
No, because we felt that horror was a great staple of the film biz, and we felt it was an easier door to get into than thru slapstick.


Do you have any particular memories of shooting Within The Woods, beyond what's in your book 'If Chins Could Kill'?  
 
No. There is better detail in my book than I can afford you in this format.


Was it your harrowing time under Tom's make-up during Within The Woods, that lead to the swapping of your possessed role and Ellen's heroic role in the feature version, or had this always been intended?  
 
Swapping the role had nothing to do with make-up. Sam felt if a man was reduced to screaming like a girl, that would make for a scarier movie.



Bruce in Within The Woods (1979)

Bruce in a promo still from The Evil Dead (1981)


It seems as though the technical leap from the previous Super-8 Shorts, to Within The Woods, to The Evil Dead was a pretty big one. How often were you finding yourselves out of your depth from a film-making standpoint?  
 
Ask Sam. Every film teaches you more and more. Sam learns exponentially between movies.


Within The Woods seems much tighter than The Evil Dead from a script perspective, and many think works better for it. Were there many concessions made when converting & expanding the general idea and overall plot in Within The Woods to work on the big screen?  
 
Well, the biggest change was that Within The Woods was only a half hour - The Evil Dead had to be 90 minutes, so yeah, it had to be way different. Bear in mind, a ten minute short would have been 'tighter' than a thirty minute short.


Obviously there were budgetary concessions, such as using real glass rather than sugar glass, but was there anything during production on The Evil Dead which Sam asked you to do, but you refused as too dangerous?  
 
No. Sam's not crazy. He didn't want his lead actor out of commission. We worked our way through each scenario.


Was there a certain point in the production/post-production that you realized Renaissance Pictures had a film that could possibly make it's money back?  
 
When we finally saw it with an audience, we saw that the reaction was favorable. That gave us great hope.


Stephen Woolley & Nik Powell of Palace Pictures bought the British rights to The Evil Dead in March 1982 (the film's first proper sale), which lead to it becoming one of the top UK home-rental VHS releases of 1983. Did you ever travel over to the UK to during that period to promote it, and what did you make of the censorship furore which lead to it being banned for almost five years in September 1985?  
 
I never travelled overseas for the first Evil Dead. Sam flew over to testify in the trial but was not called to the stand. We only experienced it on the periphery, really.

Bruce, with Bart Pierce & Tom Sullivan working on The Evil Dead's meltdown (1980)  
 
 

Bruce with Sam Raimi & Rob Tapert at the Book Of The Dead premiere (1981)
 
 
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