Book Review – If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor
every Bruce Willis and Steven Spielberg, there are a hundred no-name slobs
scraping out a living in this shockingly difficult profession,” Bruce
Campbell writes in the introduction to his hilarious biography, If Chins
Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor. The book leads the reader on a
rip-roaring tour through the underbelly of blue collar
Hollywood, and gives the skinny on enough dream factory
misadventures to choke a room full of studio executives.
those of you who are not male, ages 13-45, and proud owners of the
Necronomicon, or don’t consider “Gimme some sugar, baby!” the
perfect pickup line, you may be wondering just who the hell is Bruce
Campbell. Star of on-screen atrocities such as Mindwarp
and Maniac Cop, Campbell earned
cult status one night at the Redford Theater in 1981 with the release of
zombie classic, Evil Dead.
the simple location of “a cabin in a feral, isolated valley,” Evil
Dead was the product of the homegrown, Mid-Western sensibilities of
director Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and other members of the “Detroit
Mafia.” The “Mafia” (Campbell’s affectionate moniker for his
grass roots film collective) got together for twelve grueling weeks in
rural Tennessee to film the “comedy of terrors” that would become the
horror phenomenon of the decade.
is the perfect narrator, recounting episodes of on-set mayhem with the
enthusiasm of a man truly in love with his job. From charging bulls, to
near lethal run-ins with craft service cuisine, Campbell gleefully
chronicles the obstacles cast and crew endured getting Evil
Dead in the can. While aspiring actors may find themselves running to
their career counselor to choose another profession, film enthusiasts will
be wiping drool off the pages, as Campbell showcases low budget camera
rigs like the unforgettable, “Vas-O-Cam”, a makeshift dolly consisting
of camera, saw horse, duct tape, two-by-fours, and - you guessed
it - generous amounts of Vaseline.
even with the success of Evil Dead,
Evil Dead 2, and Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness, Campbell found A-list status elusive,
not to mention costly. In a chapter called “Anatomy of a Paycheck”,
Campbell breaks down his salary for the two years spent shooting Army
of Darkness. What starts out as a half a million dollar payday ends
up - after a sinuous journey past agents, managers, and an ex-wife - the annual salary for a manager in a retail bookstore chain.
the standard entries of your typical memoir, Campbell screens his colorful
life like a slide show, plastering the early chapters of his book with
nostalgic pictures and memorabilia. The most interesting childhood
articles include battle plans, a design for an armed wooden tank, and an
instructional diagram on how to “fake-flush” a sibling’s sock down
the toilet, (ample proof that Campbell is profoundly in touch with his
there was an ominous blip on the B-status radar with rumors that Campbell
had been offered the role of the Lizard in the next installment of the
Spiderman series. Mercifully, the information proved false. As protectors
of Campbell’s artistic reputation,
one could hear sighs of relief from Duluth, Minnesota to Newark, New
Jersey. Indeed, cult heroes like Campbell are held up as national
treasures to a certain demographic - see paragraph
also proves he has a self-deprecating sense of humor, loyally including
emails in his book from the fans that have made him the icon he is today.
Ranging from the normal to the surreal, one fan boldly suggests an
alternative title for the actor’s biography:
How To Sorta Succeed in
Hollywood. High praise indeed.
Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor by Bruce Campbell