During the New York Comic Con 2012, Sony Pictures unleashed the the man with the boom stick upon the primitive screw heads. Since it is obvious, you cannot have an Evil Dead movie without him. However, this time, Bruce gave up the center stage and took on the role of producer in what he calls “a nice little Evil Dead candy bar”. It’s a privilege to get to interview one of the genre’s biggest hams as he had plenty to say about the MPAA, 3D, CGI effects, and the toughness of Jane Levy.
Editors Note*: This interview was conducted before the announcement of Army of Darkness 2, which is a good thing since it would have dominated the conversation.
Mania: How will fans react to this new Evil Dead?
Bruce Campbell: Very well because we appreciate their anger and their zeal as they are very protective of this movie. So are we. They need to know that the original producers have made this movie. Not some cigar chomping random producer who is just making some random choice with this movie. We thought about it long and hard. It took a long time for this to come about because we had to find the right filmmaker. Thankfully, we did. Fede Alveraz did that short “Panic Attack” on the internet. Three weeks later he had an agent at CAA (I couldn’t get CAA on the phone if I tried) and he is meeting with [Steven] Spielberg. Sam Raimi was one of his stops. He was a big Evil Dead fan. Sam liked his little short and they got to talking. One thing lead to another. He [Fede Alveraz] pitched some very intriguing ideas about how he would tell this again. The project that Sam wanted to do with Fede got bogged down. This one came up and we were able to sell it around the world very easily because of how successful it was. We raised money and here we are.
Mania: Has anyone signed on for a sequel?
Bruce Campbell: Oh, we are not playing games. We’re just going to go movie by movie because this wasn’t even supposed to be made. Evil Dead 2 wasn’t even supposed to be made. This franchise that became a franchise was never meant to be a franchise. Franchise is a dumb word for this series. They have been getting made in a hurky jerky way over a thirty year period. It’s not like we are really spitting them out, here. I think Evil Dead is very underexploited. No one has touched this concept for twenty years. We filmed Army of Darkness in ‘91. So, none has touched it in forever. I think people are ready for it. They can look past their anger thinking that we are going to insult them by giving them a bad movie. As soon as they see the movie, they are all going to get behind it.
Mania: What do you mean “this concept”?
Bruce Campbell: The fact that we are making another Evil Dead. Some people are very angry about that. Again, it is all very similar. It is going to be putting on that comfortable shoe. Five kids, a cabin, scary book, and bad shit happens for a long time.
Mania: How did you prepare the actors for Evil Dead?
Bruce Campbell: I sent an email to all the actors before they shot letting them know exactly what they were going to be in for, that this was going to be the most difficult thing they have ever done in their entire lives. All the other work they will ever do after will seem simple. That was the first thing out of Jane’s [Levy] mouth when I saw her today. It’s like going to a Spa to work on her TV show. It is a Spa vacation with dialogue. No blood, no carnage, no blood rain to contend with. She got an ear infection because she was in a sequence where it rained blood for so long. I knew she earned her money when I heard that.
Mania: What did you get paid for this?
Bruce Campbell: I made $35 dollars a week on the first one and expenses. We were the filmmakers and none of us got paid. I’m getting paid now (laughs) for what I did thirty-two years ago.
Mania: Why a remake and not Evil Dead 4?
Bruce Campbell: It is easier to get a young filmmaker and a bunch of actors. We’re middled aged men, now. I don’t know if Evil Dead 4 is looking so good, now [however, Army of Darkness 2 has been announced since this interview was done]. This will be fine. This will be a nice little Evil Dead candy bar for anyone who wants an Evil Dead experience.
Mania: The first one worked well with the mix of horror and comedy. Will we see that again?
Bruce Campbell: The humor worked so well in the first one because we were bad actors delivering lousy dialogue. So, let’s call a spade a spade. All the actors in this version are better than we ever were. I don’t want to compare Fede with Sam, because I think Sam is actually a genius. I certainly think that Fede is knocking at that door. They had support, they had more money, and all the special effects are better. It’s not like we are trying to go, “look at our digital special effects”. It is mostly make up effects, mostly. It is still an old school horror movie approach. The only time we used digital effects was to make things happen. It is not an orgy of digital shots. It is too expensive, for starters.
Mania: Why not Evil Dead 3D?
Bruce Campbell: Not this movie, but Army of Darkness should be 3D because of the tone and feel of it. This wouldn’t really be a good 3D movie. It is too much like a normal drama until the shit hits the fan. Then you are doomed. Audiences are doomed (laughs). I really pity the audience who go and see this movie. I actually do. I severely pity them.
Mania: You need to sit in on an audience.
Bruce Campbell: Don’t think that I won’t. Get the old baseball cap and come in a little bit late, have my popcorn. I’m looking forward to it. They’re going to freak their shit. They’re going to freak out. That is a horror movie’s job. Not to really make people think their world is a shitty place. That’s not it. The idea is to go there because you like the ride. You take the rides at the amusement park because you like the big 100 foot drop thinking you are going to die. You don’t and that is why you go to amusement parks. It gives you that rush. Horror movies are the same. You go through this cathartic experience in which you watch poor Jane Levy go through hell and back again. I think it is what audiences want when you go to that type of a movie. When you go to a horror movie, it has to deliver. We will deliver.
Mania: What’s the hardest part about recasting a film?
Bruce Campbell: They are all different characters, so we never had to compare it. We just had to make sure they were good actors and tough actors. Jane Levy is tough. She is a tough chick. A little hottie, too (laughs). I’m just going to lay it out there.
Mania: Is there a more serious tone for horror and MPAA?
Bruce Campbell: What the ratings board needs to realize is there is such a thing as more benign violence. When violence gets absurd, it becomes absurd. There are points in this movie where you will laugh for different reasons. You’ll laugh because of what you are watching (laughs). The ratings board, well I hope they do realize that. The Evil Dead films are generally a little more Joie de vivre than the average horror movie. We celebrate the fantastic more than torture porn. Like putting a guy’s penis in a vice for half an hour. That’s not good filmmaking to me. That’s lazy. There is none of that in this movie.
Mania: Army of Darkness turned 20 last year. What’s your favorite ending?
Bruce Campbell: I always like the original, the filmmaker’s original. I don’t like endings that are based on getting a bunch of unemployed people at a mall to recruit them to come and see your movie. Sorry, you are not filmmakers. I know you are an audience, but there is only so much that I can take from them. I thought it was a very appropriate ending and a very ridiculous ending. there was a lot of pressure to change it and we did. When the studio puts up the money, they call the shots. That is how that works. There is no studio on this film.
Mania: But now you are the studio...
Bruce Campbell: Absolutely, but we are good a little studio. Our notes are constructive. Our notes come from a filmmaking background. We are only interested in the good of the child, not furthering some personal agendas. I’m not a lawyer giving notes.
Mania: Is it weird to come in and tell a director what to do?
Bruce Campbell: You would have to ask him because our job is to make sure we picked the right guy, not to tell him what to do. If you pick a great actor, you really don’t have to worry about him. They’ll take care of most of what you need to worry about. The trick was picking a guy who we knew could do this. I think we lucked out. It could have gone horribly wrong.
Mania: Will this franchise restart?
Bruce Campbell: I hope we do three of these and then Fede will be too old. Screw him (giggles). Then we’ll get some new filmmaker. The actors will then be all too expensive, so then we’ll have to start all over again. It will be a horrible cycle that will go on forever. I’m ready for it. We didn’t plan any of this, but, if people are ready for another Evil Dead, then we are going to give it to them. Whether they like it or not.