This week for the Legends of Horror, I’m going to discuss the King. The man behind my all time favorite charactor, Ashley J. Williams. Better known as Ash. That’s right, I’m talking about the one and only Bruce Campbell! Hail to the King, baby!
While he may never be considered an “A-List Star,” the Chin has a legion of loyal fans. Bruce may very well be the living embodiment of cult cinema. Whether it’s The Evil Dead films, Bubba Ho-Tep or Brisco County Jr, Campbell has put out insane performances with the best of them. Even when he’s starring in “bad” movies, he still shines in them. He also is quite possibly the most quoted actor in history. Bring up the character Ash to a fan and odds are they will spit out one of his many lines from the movies.
His Best Films
The Evil Dead Trilogy
Of course I’m going to start here. Where else would I begin? Not only was the original movie The Evil Dead his first starring role, it was the role that most everybody remembers him for. In the first movie, Ash was played straight. He was simply a college kid in a REALLY bad situation and was in completely over his head.
When Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn came out, he became the legend, the badass we know and truly love. Bruce Campbell gives a tour-de-force performance in this movie as Ash slowly starts to lose his mind. A large chunk of the movie is spent with Ash on his own and they are some of the most memorable moments in the film. Need an example? Watch the scene where he gets into a fight with his own right hand. That is one of the funniest, craziest scenes ever put in a movie. This is also the movie where Ash starts getting his trademark characteristics. His one liners start really coming out in this movie, as does his penchant for taking a beating like a true champ.
There is a reason the the title credits for Army of Darkness lists it as “Bruce Campbell vs Army of Darkness.” This is 100% his movie. Ash is in full force in this movie! His one liners here may be the best in in film history. The beatings he takes are at a Three Stooges level and the comedy in it is truly top notch. I love all three of these films and Campbell is the biggest reason why. Groovy.
A geriatric Elvis teams up with a JFK in a black man’s body to defeat an evil mummy that’s killing people from their retirement home by sucking their souls out of their asses. I shit you not, that is the actual plot of the movie. And it’s every bit as ridiculously awesome as it sounds. Campbell just OWNS the role as Elvis Presley. Trust me, you owe it to yourself to see this movie.
This movie gets overlooked by many when looking through his filmography. That’s a shame because it’s such a fun horror flick. Where else will you see Bruce Campbell team up with Tom Atkins(who will definitely get his own Legends of Horror column in due time) to take on a psychotic serial killer in a cop’s uniform? This movie holds up remarkably well and I truly feel anyone that considers them self a horror fan should check this fun little movie out.
My Name Is Bruce
Some people may not agree with this pick. And to those people I say, write your own damn article then! I get a kick out of this movie. Bruce Campbell plays a fictional version of himself that gets kidnapped by an obsessed fan to help his town by killing an ancient Chinese demon. Is it low budget? You bet it is. Is it fairly stupid? Yep. Does Bruce and a bunch of his friends from his career have fun making fun of him at every turn? Damn right! This movie is as much a joke about himself and a lot of the low, LOW budget schlock he’s put out over the years as it is a joke about the fanboys that idolize him while failing to see him as a human being. With faults. Many, many faults. I love this movie for what it is and recommend it to any fan.
Lesser Known Roles
While I wouldn’t necessarily consider these roles horror, they all show his talent and range as an actor. I highly recommend checking them out.
Hercules/Xena – Campbell plays the role of Autolycus, the King of Thieves. Bruce is a blast as the swashbuckling antihero whenever he pops up.
The Spider-Man trilogy – Though he only cameos in these three movies, every time he pops up makes me smile. Whether he’s naming the webslinger, not allowing him into MJ’s play or repeatedly calling him “Pecker,” you can tell he’s having fun. And when he has fun, we have fun.
The Legend of Brisco County Jr. – This was a western TV show that simply was ahead of it’s time. He is awesome as Brisco and if you can find it, I highly recommend it. Damn shame it didn’t last longer.
The Man With The Screaming Brain – The title says it all. See it to watch Bruce ham it up like only he can.
Burn Notice – This spy series has been a favorite of mine since it debuted in 2007. Bruce plays Sam Axe, a washed up former Navy Seal that’s a bit of a booze hound and womanizer. As the best friend of the main character, he get’s plenty of time to show he can still kick some major ass!
This has been my favorite Legend of Horror to profile so far. No matter the role, Bruce Campbell brings his undeniable charm and charisma in full force every time. The man is simply fun and funny to watch! I can’t recommend him and his films(even the ultra low budget ones) enough. There is no doubt that Bruce Campbell is a true Legend of Horror and so much more. HAIL TO THE KING, BABY!
Next week’s Legend of Horror is one of my all time favorite scream queens. Even as a child, she has rocked it in every horror flick she’s been in. How strongly she’s embraced the title of Scream Queen makes her a true Legend of Horror.