Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Man, The Myth, The Chin

No, it's not Bruce Forsyth - although, curiously enough, his name is Bruce as well (must be a Bruce thing, having a big chin). I'm talking about B-movie legend Bruce Campbell, a man who is the very definition of a cult actor, and here's why:-

1. The Evil Dead trilogy. His most famous role, naturally - helping out his mate Sam Raimi and appearing as the beleaguered Ash who is repeatedly attacked by dead things for three films. The first film is more of a full-on horror and the third film ramps up the comedy level a little too far but the second pitches the balance between horror and comedy just right and is where he really gets a chance to shine. Top moment? Fighting his own possessed both attached to and then detached from his body before going insane and sharing a laugh-along with the entire contents of the possessed house.

2. The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr. A sadly short-lived series following 19th century bounty hunter Brisco County Jr as he attempts to round up the 13 men responsible for his dad's death (as well as looking for "the coming thing" with the upcoming turn of the century) and involving mysterious power-giving orbs, time travel and ahead-of-their-time inventions. It was good cheesy fun with another appealing turn by Campbell, backed up by a solid cast of supporting and returning characters; my favourite of which being Pete Hutter who had a pathological dislike of people touching his gun and a tendency to get killed off only to return a few episodes later, comic-book style ("I was only gut shot. I'm stronger now with less appetite"). Sadly, no bugger watched it so it got cancelled after one series.

3. Bubba Ho-Tep. Quite possibly the ultimate in high concept B-movies. An ageing Elvis (who faked his death years before) finds himself battling an ancient Egyptian mummy alongside a black man who thinks he's JFK. Yeah, seriously, it doesn't get any higher concept than that. It's good fun and is surprisingly touching as well but it's Campbell's performance as the declining Elvis that is the showstealer. He's obviously having the time of his life playing the role and it shows. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It's great.

If you haven't seen any of the above, well, there's still a chance you may have seen him. Being a friend of Sam Raimi, Campbell has cameoed in all three Spider-Man films so far - in the first film, he's the ring announcer who gives Spider-Man his name; in the second, a snooty usher who won;t let Peter Parker into see Mary-Jane's play; and, in the third, a ridiculously accented French waiter.

Bruce Campbell - we salute you. And your unfeasibly large chin.

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