This information was original researched & written up by Danish fan Jesper Mørch in November 2018, for inclusion in the Italian book Evil Dead - Un Viaggio Nel Regno Del Male By Emanuele Crivello. They have both kindly allowed its inclusion here. To start, here is the term as defined by Bruce himself in his book If Chins could Kill.
...Other cast and crew members simply had enough. Faced with this, we were forced to employ an old Super-8 trick: "Shemping." Being fans of the Three Stooges growing up, we discovered that their shorts of about twenty minutes in length were filmed two or three at a time-thereby capitalizing on sets from the big, Columbia A pictures, currently in production. It allowed them, for example, to use a large castle set (and shoot a pie fight or something) before it was torn down. As a result, they often shot overlapping scenes from different shorts. One day, Shemp (the really ugly one with long, stringy black hair) had a heart attack and the rest of the Stooges, distraught as they were, had to finish off scenes from several shorts. To do this, a "fake Shemp" was brought in. The double, actor Joe Palma, was the wrong height and weight and lacked the true Shemp mannerisms. Even as teenagers.
watching the Stooges after school, we could tell whenever the fake Shemp made his appearances (which amounted to four shorts) and it amused us to no end. We then began to use the term "Fake Shemp" for any actor in our Super-8 flicks who didn't have any lines, or was doubling for someone else, (which seemed to happen a lot. when you couldn't pay actors to stay around). With Evil Dead, we decided to elevate "Shemping" to an official, on-screen credit category mainly because they soon constituted the bulk of our cast. Former film student, Kurt Rauf, was a monster leaping into frame. Super-8 starlet, Cheryl Guttridge, allowed us to cover her with peat moss in Sam Raimi's garage for a dramatic, out-of-the-grave lunge. Sam's brother, Ted, did his best to imitate a pair of tentative feet, shuffling across a blood-strewn floor. Local Tennessee actress, Barbara Carey, endured many nights of wigs, latex applications and broken fingernails to play the long-departed Betsy Baker. Dorothy Tapert, Rob's sister, spewed blood during a reshoot in a suburban Detroit basement. Even Rob, Mr. Producer,donned a monster wig and doubled for Ellen Sandweiss. The term Shemp has since expanded in our vocabulary to include much broader applications: Shempish-anything that is cheesy or second-rate-"Man, throw that shirt out, it looks really Shempish." Shemping-doing nothing of any importance-"I have no plans Saturday night, I'm just Shemping..." Shemp Alert-sighting a Shemp; being "Shempish"."
Any real Evil Dead fan will know the term Fake Shemps and what it means, but I will mention it briefly here anyway, in the spirit of doing this properly. Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi were both big fans of The Three Stooges; Moe Howard, his brother Shemp Howard, and Larry Fine. When Shemp died suddenly of a heart attack at age 60, the two remaining Stooges and the production company Columbia were forced to use a stand-in in order to complete four different Three Stooges-shorts that were in the making. Joe Palma was chosen as Shemp's body double, appearing behind objects and mainly seen from behind. Even as teenagers, Bruce and Sam could easily identify the fake Shemp, as Palma was the wrong height and lacked the true Shemp-mannerisms. Shemp was eventually replaced by his younger brother Jerome (Curly Howard).
The young Michigan filmmakers made a lot of Super-8 movies, directing and starring in each others' productions. They often had to use stand-ins for unavailable actor friends and used the term Fake Shemp - or simply shemping - for anyone standing in for an unavailable actor. Later, the term was used more widely for someone not doing anything particular (shemping) or objects of low (shempish) quality or condition.
During the making of The Evil Dead - then known as Book Of The Dead - fake shemping went on like mad when most of the cast and crew left the Morristown, Tennesse location a few days before Christmas of 1979 after six grueling weeks of shooting down South. Left were only Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, Robert Tapert, Tom Sullivan, Josh Becker and David "Goody" Goodman. This remaining motley crew kept going an extra six weeks. When necessary, local people as well as various friends and family members were brought in as Fake Shemps.
Shooting continued long after everyone returned from Tennessee, but of the actors, only Bruce Campbell was available. The Michigan-shot scenes are not just a few inserts but quite a lot of scenes throughout the movie. Josh Becker estimates that upwards of 40% of The Evil Dead was shot long after the filmmakers left Tennessee.
I have been unable to find a complete list of Evil Dead Fake Shemps and it's quite possible that no one fully remembers exactly what went on in Morristown back then. I have tried to contact a few of the people who are mentioned as Fake Shemps in The Evil Dead credits but without luck. The list below is as complete as I have been able to make it, pieced together from various sources. I have used the Image Entertainment DVD as guide and stated the minute and second for Fake Shemp-scenes for those wishing to check them out:
00:02:33 - Sam Raimi & Rob Tapert
That's Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert playing - but not really shemping - the two fishermen waving at the side of the road.
00:03:41 - Sam Raimi
Driving across the dangerous bridge. (That is not Theresa Seyferth glimpsed through the car window but actually Sam Raimi).
00:04:55 - Don Campbell
Scott approaches the cabin door as the porch swing swings back and forth, hitting the cabin wall with a loud booming noise (Don Campbell swung the porch swing).
00:08:20 - Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi's voice chanting "Join Us"...
00:10:25 - Don Cambell
Ash, Linda, Cheryl, Shelly and Scott are eating dinner when the the trap door suddenly flies open (Sam and Bruce seem to agree that it's probably Don Cambell flinging it open).
00:26:21, 00:26:38, 00:26:58 - Joanne Kruse
The vines going up Cheryl's legs (Actually Joanne Kruse's legs), and Cheryl trying to get rid of the vines on her legs.
00:43:28 - Sam Raimi
Scott reaching for the shower curtain (Really Sam Raimi's hand).
00:44:28 - Dorothy Tapert
Shelly tried to strangle Scott (Dorothy Tapert).
00:46:04 - Rob Tapert
Shelly seen from behind (Actually Rob Tapert in a wig).
00:46:15 - Dorothy Tapert
Scott pulls a knife and cuts Shelly's wrist (Dorothy Tapert).
00:46:33 - Dorothy Tapert
Shelly is impaled on the Kandarian dagger and spews blood and white fluid (Rob's sister Dorothy Tapert - these scenes were shot much later (in Sam's garage) in Detroit).
00:47:08 - Ted Raimi
Scott's feet on the cabin floor (Really Ted Raimi)
00:47:42 - Cheryl Guttridge & Sam Raimi
Close-up on the axe hacking off Shelly's hand (that's Cheryl Guttridge's hand sticking up through the floor with an attached appliance. The feet in the background are Sam Raimi's, as he wanted to handle the axe, so the responsibility was his if anything went wrong).
00:47:46 - Cheryl Guttridge
Close-up of the Shelly's foot being hacked off (actually Cheryl Guttridge's foot sticking up through the fake floor with an appliance).
00:48:08 - Rob Tapert & Theresa Seyferth
Rob Tapert and Theresa Seyferth hiding under the floor boards and playing Shelly's twitching body parts.
00:51:32 - Cheryl Guttridge
Infection spreads on Linda's leg (Really Cheryl Guttridge - the animation took hours to complete and Cheryl Guttridge were forced to keep completely still in an uncomfortable position. At one point, the pain made her nauseated and she leaned over and vomited in a paper basket).
00:52:58 - Sam Raimi
Dying Scott makes groaning noises (Actually Sam Raimi, who didn't think Rich Demanincor was groaning loud enough).
00:56:24 - Ted Raimi
Bruce opens the trap door and Cheryl immediately punches him in the face (Really Ted Raimi, who actually hit Bruce very hard by mistake and left marks on his face that are clearly visible in later scenes - 1:15:00).
01:03:53 - Barbara Carey
Ash buries Linda (Actually Barbara Carey, a local Tennessee-girl).
01:05:16 - Cheryl Guttridge
Linda rises from the grave (Really Cheryl Guttridge. This scene was shot later in Sam's garage in Detroit. They couldn't shoot this scene in Morristown, as the ground was frozen solid).
01:05:22 - Barbara Carey
Linda scratches and tears at Ash's ankle (really Barbara Carey, who broke her nails and was in real pain in these scenes).
01:06:17 - Joanne Kruse
Undead Linda advances on Ash, lying on the ground next to her grave (According to Tom Sullivan, this is Joanne Kruse).
01:06:23 - Joanne Kruse
Ash reaches for the shovel as Linda jumps at him (Joanne Kruse again. Tom says that Sam, Rob and Bruce waited at the restaurant where she worked a waitress until she got off from work and they took her to the location to play Linda in this scene).
01:06:34 - Cheryl Guttridge
Linda's decapitated head moves (Cheryl Guttridge)
01:06:40 - David Goodman
Linda's decapitated body gushes blood all over Ash (Actually David Goodman squirting the blood through tubes).
01:08:23 - Kurt Rauf
Cheryl appears outside the cabin window, one cheek shot to pieces (Really film student Kurt Rauf).
01:12:26 - Don Campbell
Don Campbell swinging the clock pendulum back and forth.
01:15:59 - Rob Tapert
Cheryl's hands bursting through the door, clawing at Ash's face (Actually Rob Tapert's hands).
01:20:53 - Tom Sullivan
Demon hand bursting out of monster Cheryl's abdomen (Actually Tom Sullivan's hand).
Alongside the above listings, the end credits to The Evil Dead, lists further names. After some research I was able to add some information on a number of the names, while others still remain unknown.
MARY BETH TAPERT
Phil Gillis - The Tapert Family lawyer who helped the filmmakers raise the cash for The Evil Dead.
Dorothy Tapert - She played Shelly in the scenes leading up to Shelly's dismemberment.
Cheryl Guttridge - She played various body parts as well as Linda in the graveyard scenes.
Barbara Carey - She played Linda in some of the graveyard scenes shot in TN.
Kurt Rauf - Played Cheryl in the scene where Cheryl is shot in the shoulder and pops up again in the window with blood pumping out of the shoulder and worked with Tom Sullivan and Bart Pierce on the meltdown scenes. John Bruce Jones also helped out.
Ted Raimi - Played Scott's feet among a few other things
Scott Spiegel - could not be at the Morristown location to help out on The Evil Dead, as he had to work and support his family, but he did help out with ideas and things like supplying the meats and offal used in the climax, got "a couple of his girlfriends" to double for unavailable actresses.
Joanne Kruse - played Cheryl's legs in the vine-attack scene.
John Cameron - starred in many of the Super-8 movies and worked behind the scenes on the TN-shoot.
Ivan Raimi - Sam's older brother who contributes ideas during the scriptwriting stage. He works as a doctor and visited the TN-shoots for a short period. It is unknown if he did anything actually seen in the movie.
Bill Vincent - Sam and Rob's English professor at school.
Mary Beth Tapert - Rob's other sister. It is unknown whether she appears in the movie.
Don Campbell - Worked behind the scenes at the TN-shoot. He is uncredited.
David Horton - Unknown
Wendall Thomas - Unknown
Stu Smith - Unknown
Don Long - Unknown
Gwen Cochanski - Unknown
Debie Jarczewski - Unknown
It's worth noting that Josh Becker wrote in an email that the "unknown" female Fake Shemps were just some of his girlfriends at the time, whose names he added to make it seem like a bigger production. The last six names do not appear in any of the books on The Evil Dead, any interviews I know of or any audio commentaries. A lot of effort has gone into finding out who these persons are and how they contributed to the movie. I have asked several people who worked on the movie, both regulars and other Fake Shemps but not one single piece of solid information has come to light. People with the "unknown" Fake Shemp-names, who may or may not actually be Fake Shemps, have been contacted through Facebook and email without results.
This article will be updated should any new information surface. If anyone reading this can add anything, please get in touch via