why Bruce Campbell is my creative hero
So, as you might have guessed from the lack of updates round these parts, I’ve just come off about two weeks’ worth of long, intense days full of work not at all related to movies/DVDs/geeky coolness. Which is a drag, but the rent’s gotta be paid, right? And last night was the first night when I got home and didn’t have to jump right into some project or other with an immediate looming deadline… and it was only 9pm! My god, perhaps three hours were stretching out before me before I collapsed into an unconsciousness fueled by massive sleep deprivation and brain overheating. Did I put those hours to good use? Did I catch up with emails that I’ve neglected or reviews I need to write or contests I need to post? Naw, of course not. I needed to shut my brain down for a bit… or at least as much as I ever shut my brain down.
So I watched Bubba Ho-Tep again, cuz I’m still on my little Bruce Campbell kick, which is threatening to explode into my next book project, now that the Princess Bride book is wrapped up. (You’ll be hearing the details on where and how to buy it shortly.) Actually, I didn’t watch the film — I listened to the commentary track by Bruce and screenwriter/director Don Coscarelli, which is funny and insightful and, like the best commentary tracks tend to be, like hanging out and shooting the shit about the movie with the folks who made it.
And it reminded me why, down at the bottom of things, I’m a Bruce fan. Not cuz he’s snarky-funny or cuz he’s really cute. Not cuz of the chainsaw or the chin. But because he has bypassed all the Hollywood bullshit to carve out a unique career for himself that’s about doing things the way he wants to do them, about not giving in to the absurd compromises required to become a “movie star.” Bruce and Don talk a lot in their joint commentary about the compromises they did have to make in order to have a free hand in Bubba — things like sacrificing major FX and finding cheaper substitutes — in order not to have to compromise on the more important aspects of the film, like the only-in-an-indie combination of pathos and weirdness, that would have to be left by the roadside in a Hollywood film. I had never noticed before that this movie about Elvis has no actual Elvis music in it — it would have been way too expensive to license even a snippet, Don points out. But I didn’t notice that because the limited budget the film was made under — and the ensuing creative freedom not having big-money producers on their backs grants filmmakers — is part of why the film is able to get away with being really about the quality of “Elvis-ness” — about celebrity and loneliness, for instance — that no other Elvis film, including those starring Elvis, has ever been about.
And that’s Bruce: he’s entertaining — hugely, fascinatingly entertaining — not in spite of the fact that he’s worked around the edges of the industry but because of that fact. A big portion of his book If Chins Could Kill goes into the work of getting the first Evil Dead movie financed and produced and distributed… and it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fun and yet it didn’t stop Campbell (who was a producer of that film as well as its star) from doing it again. And again. And again.
And, okay, sure, guys like Don Coscarelli and especially Bruce’s partner in crime Sam Raimi are my creative and artistic heroes, too. But they don’t also have the chainsaw and the chin things going for them…
Oh, and the other commentary track Bruce does on the Bubba DVD, in character as Elvis? That kind of wild goofiness is why I love him, too.
(Technorati tags: Bubba Ho-Tep, Bruce Campbell)
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