A Year In The Career – Bruce Campbell – 1981

Welcome! You have found A Year In The Career. The podcast in which we hope to chronicle the career of the actor, voice artist, producer, writer, sound editor, and director Bruce Campbell one year at a time.

Hosted by Gareth Myles and Simon Appleton. Visit us online http://ayearinthecareer.com/

Follow us @yearcareer

Gareth is online at:

garethmyles.com and @garethmyles on Twitter

Simon is online at:

moviemoustache.com/ and @Movie_Moustache


Last Time on A Year In The Career

The shorts of the 1970’s


What we are looking at this week

The Evil Dead (1981)


Next Episode

1984 – Bruce goes back to a different cabin in the woods and falls out of a car! 


If you want to get in touch: email gareth@ayearinthecareer.com or simon@ayearinthecareer.com

This Podcast is not endorsed or associated with Bruce Campbell in any way. Our opinions are our own.

Opening narration by Allan Gildea | http://www.allangildea.com/

Podcast Transcript

[Music] since the 1970s the film industry has been contending with the chin like gareth myles and simon appleton examine each year in the career of bruce campbell sure what’s the matter with you did something in the woods do this to you no sure there’s nothing out there trees do not attack people hello and welcome to a year in the career this is our second podcast in the analysis of bruce campbell’s career and i’m joined this week by simon how are you simon i’m good how are you yeah i can’t complain uh looking forward to talking about 1981 and uh and all the films that he he was involved in during that year of which there is one yeah um so if you want to get in touch with us you can by emailing us gareth a year in thecareer.com and simon what about you i’m at simon hearingthecareer.com awesome that’s that’s uh it flows off the tongue so very well um where can people find you as well simon tell us a bit about yourself uh i’m a movie blogger you can find my site at moviemustache.com i’m also on twitter at movie underscore mustache and generally there you will find the ramblings of a movie nerd both reviews and news and responses and anything movie related excellent excellent and uh it’s a good blog to have a good read through good for uh uh you can get me at currently garethmyles.com and find me on twitter at gareth myles as well you can also get me on there the tech addicts podcast on a weekly basis released every sunday and then talk sport as well on a wednesday morning at half past midnight where i talk about gadgetry and all that kind of stuff with jason and andy the resident djs so 1981 was the first big year that bruce campbell came onto the scene uh in the previous show we looked at some of their shorts over the years uh the ones that you can kind of track down quite easily a large amount of them are available online uh from the likes of josh becker and scott spiegel you can actually go to their website uh superior films and you can buy a dvd that is completely full of them and i do plan to do that at some point after doing all of these shorts uh sam remy bruce campbell bob tapered on a number of familiar names that we will go across over the course of the episode uh decided to gang together raise some money using one of the investment shorts that they’d made called within the woods to put that together and build a production called the evil dead originally called book of the dead and this film uh would be basically the starting block of all of their careers it’s it’s an incredibly notable film it goes down in history as one of the the biggest successes given the budget to the gross ratio that comes in there it’s it’s a a legacy film that goes down in history as one of the biggest horror films ever made simon you weren’t familiar with the or you heard heard of the evil dead but you hadn’t actually seen it prior to recording this show is that true yes it certainly is i’m very much not a horror fan it’s the one genre i’ve never really got into i’d obviously as you say heard of the evil dead and heard it was quite iconic and it had quite a legacy um i did finally get around to watching um within the woods and i was actually very impressed given that it was a low budget sort of almost like an advert to say look we want to make this film this is kind of what we’re going for and i was very impressed as you said to that i should watch it and i did i was very impressed by what i found very interesting was how good like the blood effects were and things like that and also that in within the woods it’s uh the female character whose name escapes me that became the the survivor bruce was the first taken he was the one who basically caused all the all the trouble by digging up the grave but i thought it was a very good um very good advert shall we say and uh led into a a very good film actually i was i was very impressed i’m still not a horror fan i don’t think that’s ever going to change however i was actually very impressed by given that it was a low budget film of the production value of of the evil dead i actually enjoyed it quite a lot the performances were very good i mean some of the makeup effects were fantastic i mean i’ve read about how the contact lenses were actually awful to wear and they had to only wear them for a few minutes because their eyes were starting to suffocate essentially i can see how it’s um sorry to interrupt i can see how it’s uh an inspiration for films we’ve had more recently like shawn of the dead how they’ve looked at that and gone how can we do that in london and and that that’s descent now because i watched sean the dead when it first came out i love sean of the dead but i watching having watched evil dead now i can really appreciate how they’ve taken inspiration from that and there’s that same love of film there yeah and love of the genre and yeah i thought it was a damn good film i mean it sounds like it was a horrible experience to make but um well worth it in my opinion it’s kind of a victim of its own success in that the story behind the actual creation of the evil dead is a little bit more interesting than the actual story that they tell in the film because there’s a distinct lack of story it’s uh it’s basically the story of five kids who i say kids but they’re well late teens maybe early twenties uh drive to a yes yeah youths um drive to a cabin in the woods where they are going to spend a week or a weekend uh in each other’s company now obviously in today’s society we would probably expect oh that’s gonna they’re gonna take a keg and they’re gonna try and get with their chicks and that’s probably how i’ll be played oh that’s where i found this weird because what was the weirdest thing about this film for me was not the whole we went into a cabin in the woods and found a book that awakens evil dead spirits that are going to possess us and kill everyone or the use of a smoke machine to create evil no the weirdest thing i found about it was a bloke thought he’s going to go with his girlfriend his mate and her and his girlfriend and bring his sister along to a cabin in the woods i found that kind of because you know there’s going to be shenanigans why would you bring your sister as a fifth wheel the approach they made wasn’t about you know wild teens um looking to to get done and dirty with their significant other at the time it’s more along the lines you know bruce campbell’s character brings a little piece of jewelry to give to his his uh his girlfriend linda and she accepts it and they they they’re very schmoozy romantic-y if anything it’s it’s not uh the lads which it could have quite easily been it there’s a bit more of a delicate approach and i really appreciate it that it’s almost like sam and bruce and things were getting investors money and sweeping it up and and that probably some of the investors were family members and things they didn’t want to make it seem like they were heading off for a big party in the woods with their girlfriend you know they were making something with a bit more moral um than you would have expected but i guess again this was shot in like 1978 1979 whenever friday the 13th hadn’t quite arrived or had it i can’t remember what year was friday the 13th the first one it was 80. so yeah this was made as friday 13th was being made which did have a certain amount of teens wanting to shimmy up against each other but then the evil dead lays on quite early on the whole tree rape which is an incredible thing to put in there it it’s quite well cut in that it doesn’t show anything particularly explicit whereas nowadays it would be a great deal more in your face and it would leave nothing to the imagination whereas the first time i ever watched this i didn’t actually get what was going on but then i was kind of young at the time and i and the last podcast i explained how i i got into it and this was one of the first films that i saw after army of darkness and i i didn’t pick up on that and it was whenever i was reading about it later on that i realized oh that’s what that scene implied right okay crikey but um you know it it goes from one extreme to the next and then it lets you know i know you’re in for something here you know that there’s 20 minutes of setup then 60 minutes of bonkers-ness going on afterwards and it’s somewhat unrelenting and i i love the way the film pieces that out now the first time i watched this i wasn’t particularly enamored by it in any way i i didn’t think it was great um primarily because i was spoiled with the likes of halloween on friday 13th i’d seen all those before and i i loved them for everything that they did and this came along as a bit schlocky a bit uh it was a muddy vhs that i had um that wasn’t particularly well i suppose it was an official release and things but it wasn’t it didn’t look particularly good but over the years watching it then on dvd where it’s slightly more palatable and looks a lot better and most recently on blu-ray watching it it looks amazing and it really stands up and you can make out all of the detail and just how how well it was rounded out and i think the approach just just works so well and i’m i’m really i really enjoy it more than i had done previously what did you think of it whenever it was all over with it did you think that was worth my while or i can’t believe i waited too long to watch that or i’m never watching that again i i think it was worth the wait as i say is given it was the the start of their career like you say it might have been a victim of its own success but at the same time it was i looked at it from the point of view that’s an incredible achievement for what what they had to go through to do definitely worth the wait i mean also part of me felt like that was a a roller coaster sort of like you said because there’s not much of a story you don’t fully it’s not like they’ve laid everything out for you you just know that at some point some historian archaeologist whatever came to this cabin and stupidly uttered the words written in a book called the book of the dead i mean if that’s not ever in not to read out loud what is in the book yeah but yeah i just was more a case of wow sort of a roller coaster sort of ride what have i just experienced you know i sat there and processed it for for a little while i mean some some of the times when you see bruce on screen i eat the looks of shock terror exhaustion and generally not knowing what the [ __ ] is going on well sometimes i wondered was acting or is that genuine well yeah i think um because of the nature of the shoot um if you watch any of the commentaries or documentaries they’ll tell you what a nightmare this was and how they were up late and surviving on and what was it uh coffee and two for one bread louvres that they could get for a dollar it was a nightmare for them it really was so i do think that that really comes across in some of the performance as well of just how knackering everything that’s going on is leaving the characters but one of the things that i i wanted to to highlight was uh the character of ash in this film is is obviously quite different to the character of ash going on through the series no i i i’m not sure if you’ve seen ash versus evil dead the the recent tv series no i haven’t no i didn’t i hadn’t seen it and i thought we’re starting this i’m not going to watch that until i’ve seen all the other films because i want to see them in the correct order mm-hmm yeah well the uh the character of ash is is pretty much on a journey himself and in this film he he starts out as a sweet young gorhamless boy who who you know what you think about when you see ash in ash vs evil dead they are a world away from each other but that’s because he’s spent his life having to battle this evil um and he turns into a womanizing misogynistic prick um who just he still has uh the chops for being a hero whenever necessary whilst he’s a bit of a dummy as well and whenever we hit evil dead too the character does change it’s almost instantaneous as the film swat swaps from one film to the next but ash versus or ash in the original evil dead it’s quite an interesting um alternative for you to see uh in the in the character because i think in the majority of the film the character of scott uh played by richard de manicore demand to manon gore who was he’s not a particularly notable actor in in any shape or form i don’t think he went on to too much evil dead would be his his big claim to fame i i guess his character does most of the ass kicking in this film and ash sort of uh backs off and is somewhat more cowardly he’s also slammed into a lot more furniture than anyone else yes yes but he’s he’s good at that and i think sam really got a kick out of doing that it’s the women who get possessed as well and that’s kind of the the odd treat and whenever the the the blood starts pumping and the the pencils start flying into people’s ankles um it’s it really did get it turns on its heel and and becomes an odd experience in horror having seen army of darkness first i found the original evil dead quite difficult to stomach because ash wasn’t doing the things that i expected him to be doing and at this stage i’m imagining you’ve probably seen evil dead too and you know uh how badass ash does become yes but it’s a world away from this character and i i really do quite like that and you can imagine what might have happened to the to ash had that book not been read had he not pressed play on the tape recorder that had been recorded on um and he probably would have had a a nice little life with uh with linda and worked at the local factory job and 2.4 children and yeah been a nice doofus up until she probably went and had an affair because he was such a bore back did like that though i didn’t like that he suddenly turned into this schwarzenegger stallone type i’ll take charge and action hero he was a scared kid you know i mean i can imagine myself and that sort of situation being like you know spending more time concentrating on keeping my underpants drier than anything else and i was reading a quick interview with uh with bruce in um i can’t remember what the magazine was but i’ve noted down here that he said that um from the the studio point of view there’s there’s actually no studio cut or director’s cut what you see is what they made and um there won’t be another cut of it ever done there may be some deleted scenes or whatever that that are put on onto the blu-ray and the dvd is extra features and things like that but well the evil dead will stay the way it is and you won’t get the producers cut to the director’s cup because these guys poured so much love and uh creative influences into this cut that everyone sees when they watch it and that’s rare in a film that you you don’t have any other meddling and i really quite like that idea as well this this is what they wanted this is what they got and uh if if all their careers were to suddenly come to an end after the evil dead they would they’d be able to sit back and go no we did that right that that’s what we initially set out to do and that’s what we got everything along the way was an adventure and a horror to them so you know the combination of the elements i’m sure they must be incredibly satisfied aside from bruce campbell who sits down and and watches this night and he says he cringes at the performance that he gives because it’s it’s obviously well it it’s not acting it’s reacting yeah to quote the uh the short film that he was in where he’s he’s constantly being slammed against things and having blood poured over him and just watching what’s happening as sam remy pours madness onto the screen yes you gotta wonder about the psychology behind some of them sometimes don’t you yeah yeah but i i do i’ve got a new find respect for the evil dead that i i didn’t have over the years and i’m i’m going to watch it again relatively soon because it’s i don’t know i i maybe i’ve just lost time with it or it’s because the sequels are so much more enjoyable and accessible not accessible but i’m so much more enjoyable um to to sit down and watch for for 80 minutes in its running time the evil dead does uh some some pretty incredible stuff um for the for the audience and and it really does give them a bit of a wild ride and the reviews were fantastic for whenever it came out and the amount of influences that uh it had and uh knockoffs that it it created everyone was thinking well if these three guys from detroit can go out and do that we can do it too and i certainly set a bar you certainly set a bar for horror and for low budget films going forwards yeah yeah and whilst i i suppose well i’m saying that you know the first 20 minutes are are set up and then there’s 60 minutes of madness what what i really do like about one of the things that sam reamy did was he decides to slow down the action every now and again there’s a particular scene where as scotty leans out of a window and he has a look around and uh sam pans with them quite slowly and it slows the action down allows you to take a breather but it also does one thing that i really appreciated and that was uh it helped you paint the landscape and i think a lot of films have a real problem with that if you take for example the fast and the furious you don’t know where you are at any one time there’s just flashy stuff happening on the screen um and if things are passing you by you you maybe don’t get where people are logistically to each other whereas the evil dead it it’s not afraid to show you the surroundings and show you where the cabin is and and where people are in the cabin and it it helps bring you into the storyline and you can you can identify a lot more with the characters because it feels like you’re there and i i really like that about it um because it took the time to uh establish where things were who was doing what and and and that was one of the the great courtesies that sam afforded the audience was okay sit down breathe look around like scotty’s looking around and i go again and and you you’ve had your breath and you’re you’re back into it uh islam it’s all happening did you feel that at all did you were you dropped brought in by yes i i felt very isolated i felt the isolation that the characters felt and they made good use of the woods and and the cabin and we’re just quick shots they were able to emphasize the fact that these guys are out in the middle of nowhere they are alone and without help and obviously in a world where there aren’t such things as mobile phones yeah well that’s a fair point actually i’m bringing it back to say friday the 13th when one of the sequels jason is attacking there’s a bunch of cabins so people can scatter and go and hide in different cabins and hope they’re not found if they try to leave the place well if they were to do that in evil dead they can’t go anywhere i think there’s a work shed that’s about it and then bridges down yeah bridges suddenly disappeared and and if you decide to take yourself off into the woods you get attacked by the trees exactly so you’re you’re really in big trouble there’s there is no actual escape for anyone who’s in the cabin you just have to wait it out until morning i guess just tried to survive it’s almost a bit like die hard i suppose is die hard and cabin wear yeah in a way it’s cabin instead of skyscraper and evil spirits instead of terrorist hostage takers slash thieves yeah yeah it’s exactly the same perfect well done evil dead is die hard so the film went on to to gross uh i think the imdb reported it was something like a 2.4 million um there was a a glowing review from stephen king that they were able to to print on the poster which really helped them sell the film uh and get it out there obviously in the uk which was actually one of its uh most popular markets it was put onto the video nasty list of the early 80s and you couldn’t get it out of a out of the video library um but it was available on essentially the black market and i think them putting it onto the video nasty list really helped it gain quite a bit of notoriety exactly and when the video the vcr arrived uh people were wanting to get that and i think even the was it the young ones they they’re talking about the video nasties that they’ve got and the thing though you take something like that and put it on a list that says you can’t have this you’re making people want it more yeah you basically you might as well just surrender and let people have it because you’re actually making it more popular by putting it on that list it’s it’s a it’s a wonderful way of marketing things i think people probably do that more so now yeah where it says the cut that they never wanted you to see or something like that or the the one that wasn’t suitable for theaters uh trying to capture what they did here and it wasn’t an overnight success for them which was the the hardest part of it you know they were prepared to work hard to get it shown yeah going around to different theaters and showing it it’s not that easy at that time and also they were having to return gear and things like that and try and work out what to do next and also just relax i think in in the last podcast we we’d mentioned hi there was one of the one of the short films the blind waiter was made after the evil dead so yeah despite everything that they had endured up in the cabin they still managed to go back and well i from reading biographies and things i know uh bruce took a security job uh i think doing night shift as did was josh becker as well josh becker was writing striker’s war and trying to get it done or bloodbath it was as it was called and they were all taking night jobs because this wasn’t instant success they were you know they had to go back to reality and go right well we’ve made this film let’s uh let’s get ivan shapiro in or irvin shapiro sorry and he’ll work out how to release it and uh he changed it from i think book of the dead to the evil dead yeah that was the suggestion because book would uh people would associate with reading which would be is on the boring hand a bit shallow but on the other hand well yeah i can see where he’s coming from yeah yeah i think they did that with the ten commandments no wait they didn’t no yeah yeah but there was only ten so there’s not much to read there but ivan shapiro came on board and uh he was instrumental in getting this out there and getting it seen and it went to film festivals and things and then eventually got picked up and and released and that’s uh it all kind of just it picks up from there and it’s crazy to think as we explore the rest of the years what happens with uh bruce’s career and the the decisions that they make that the evil dead being such well a box office success when you look at the figures over the course of time that it took a while for his career to actually get where it is now it took like 10 years for him to start actually getting proper rules in films but you know on the on the basis of this he he was the evil dead guy he will always be the evil dead guy yeah and no matter what he he did um like even the next film that he went on to was was a a gentle drama and he he could never shake that evil dead side of things and they went with irvin shapiro because he’d handled some of uh george romero’s thing so he he knew what to do with night of the living dead i don’t know if he did day of the dead or dawn of the dead i can’t remember he knew what he was doing when it came to to marketing this but it was still an uphill struggle despite the fact they had a legendary distributor in charge of this film and i i guess whenever you go to some of the dvds blu-rays and things like that every single element of the evil dead has been explored and talked about by sam and bruce and rob i i did put on a commentary for one of them i think that on a recent blu-ray i i watched the commentary as well and they didn’t actually talk very much about the film they were watching they just talked about the background and how they had to get stuff and then how they had to release it and i think whenever it comes to a commentary i i prefer people to be sitting there talking about um oh what you’re seeing on screen now what we did was this that and the other and we had this problem with that and and this person and we had cast this actor originally and instead they brought this person in instead but you know they’re just happy happily sitting there talking about uh how they were getting the money to be able to do the evil dead not the scene that that is playing and i guess that’s because everything has just been talked about and it’s it’s it’s got to be just something that they just randomly come out with they can just call up anecdotes about the evil dead just happened they don’t have to think about it too much because it’s all their resident because they’re so used to talking about it and it’s one of the few films that you can go and get every bit of information out of on on dvds and blu-rays in fact i think think some of the blu-rays and dvds have share features because well of licensing reasons but because there’s too much information to put on the commentary can’t contain everything that you want so you have to go and get multiple commentaries to be able to watch them talk about the events that are happening on screen as opposed to the events that happen behind the scenes because there’s so much to it so um i guess the legacy of evil dead was um they obviously made evil dead too then they made army of darkness uh they made a bunch of games i think there was four playstation games no i’m thinking about it maybe it wasn’t it might have been three there was there’s a couple of uh android and iphone games as well that uh just just the fact that that the game’s being made indicates and highlights the legacy of this one film that popped up out of nowhere in 1981 i actually meant to i was thinking about this last night there was a an evil dead game that came out back in the day for the commodore 64. i wanted to mention that as well because i i remember digging up and playing it on on an emulator yeah it was released at night on bbc micro and commodore 64 in 1984 and uh yeah i i think i had this on a on an emulator for the bbc i don’t remember on commodore looking at some of the screenshots it’s a it’s a difficult game to play whenever you’re used to some of the more recent games obviously is lacking in content and style and all that kind of thing but it was uh doing what the hardware could do at the time it i think it did quite well it was released 1984 so uh there was enough of demand that they felt that they had to get go palace software and uh and create this game it’s it’s nice to have that there uh there’s there’s coinless evil dead games them in 2000 there was hail to the king on playstation i remember buying that the day it came out and a fistful of boomstick on playstation 2 which i bought on the xbox despite not having an xbox at the time um evil dead regeneration it is yeah uh i still have evil dead regeneration for windows the original release of it um in the shed it doesn’t work on windows anymore because of technology and stuff like that and then there was a couple for android and ipad afterwards which uh you know are notorious for sampling sound and things like that but it’s still there people obviously still see evil dead as a a viable uh commercial property and then of course we got to ash versus the evil dead which is the tv series that they produced um over the last couple of years it got three seasons and there’s still talk of evil dead four uh there was the evil dead remake as well which we will come to at a later date i i don’t know if you’ve seen that simon but uh no again avoiding everything watching it in order well it’s it’s it’s worth getting excited about so yeah that’s that’s essentially the evil dead um it’s a it’s a really good strong horror film would you care to summarize the film for the for our listeners are you a big fan though i am a fan of it i recognize the uh the hard work and dedication that went into it it was like you say i i like the mystery of it because as you said there’s not much of a story and you go in and it’s literally a case of what is going on and what is happening i mean just the the journey in in the car the very famous car that belonged to sam raimi and his family and then and then arriving at that cabin and just that bench that swinging bench slamming against the cabins yeah something’s not right here something’s bad yeah and then a night of sheer terror genuine terror because you have no idea what’s going on and even a nice little interesting ending with some stop-motion animation which yes may not have been the best quality then it looks a bit dated now shall we say but for what they were working with of another damn good attempt and i can certainly see why these guys went on to greater success in later years well that’s that’s exactly it um you know sam really directed the hell out of this he was going to make this his uh his his magnum opus if you like and there’s a perfect example of one scene where they’re they’re driving out toward the bridge and they park the car and bruce goes to investigate to see what’s going on and as he walks across the screen it’s all off kilter at an odd angle i love that shot yeah any other filmmaker would have just done that standard but no sam has to inject something into it and make it original different exciting and that that is the evil dead it takes everything that you would expect from a typical slasher film and turns it up to 11 it makes it a plus version it makes it more imaginative sam has gone what has been done before what can i do differently and that’s what he does um when it comes to the special effects you have a myriad of of wonderful stop-motion animation as you talk about um and the the the gore that pours out you know it it’s just it’s wonderful to see and you think these guys are operating on a limited budget and what they got for their money is incredible like we can’t afford firearms special effects so you’re going to shoot a real shotgun around a door with a sack full of blood behind or something simple like that yes as long as all the safety measures are adhered to and it’s all done very carefully but still the we can’t afford special effects so we’ll just do it for real we’re in a cabin in the middle of nowhere we’ll make sure it’s all safe and you’ll shoot through a door yeah job done yeah it’s it’s raw um it’s it’s fast-paced and it’s one thing that i i reckon even kids today whilst you you say that it is a bit dated and i do fully agree i still think that the youth today could get behind it and enjoy it because they do watch things say on youtube which are poorly produced or or cheap or nasty or whatever so they can they can easily get behind this and i think this is one of those timeless films that thankfully is remembered well and it’s not being forgotten too easily so uh there it will always find a new audience for at least during our generation and i’d like to think in the next generation but you know there’s always a new dog on the block that’s that’s kicking an old dog off so uh in the next episode we’ll be jumping forward to 19 well it should be 1983 but i’m going with 1984 because the film was technically released in 1984 and that would be going back where we’re gonna have a bit of a chinwag about that and something else as well so uh tune in next week for uh the opposite of the evil dead which is going back all right so if you want to get in touch with us you can you can get me on email at gareth at iearingthecareer.com and simon at a year in thecareer.com as well uh you can find me at garethmoms.com or at gareth myles on twitter simon what about you there you can find me at the movie at moviemustache.com and at moviema underscore mustache on twitter terrific and other than that take care [Music] bye