Writings of a B Movie Star

by Alan Rapp on August 29, 2005

in Uncategorized

I was lucky enough to be on a stop for the Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way book tour.  Being the naturally curious sort, I went out and grabbed both books to sneak a peek at how Bruce Campbell’s mind works.  Both are worthy of some serious, well not too serious,  readin’!

Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way / If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Star
4 Stars

I was lucky enough to be on a stop for the Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way book tour.  Being the naturally curious sort, I went out and grabbed both books to sneak a peek at how Bruce Campbell’s mind works.  His first book is the insightful autobiography If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor which tells the story of his childhood and his early work on films (Evil Dead) and television (Briscoe County, Jr.).  His new novel Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way effectively demonstrates why Campbell hasn’t worked on more A-list projects.  Both are worthy of some serious, well not too serious,  readin’!

Shhh…nobody tell Nichols, Gere or Zellweger!

Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way

Campbell’s new book is a self deprecating novel about his chance of getting out of B movies and moving onto the A-list.  Although many of the characters in the book are real this is a book of fiction, or as our author states, “everything in this book actually happened, except for all the stuff that didn’t.”  Our lead character Bruce Campbell is given an Oscar caliber supporting role in the new Mike Nichols film Let’s Make Love!  Problems start to arise on the project when despite his best efforts Campbell begins to slowly influence the movie, its director, and its stars with his B movie sensibilities.  He gets Richard Gere interested in doing his own stunt work, he gives some rather humorous suggestions to Rene Zellweger and the costume director, and turns Mike Nichols’ dramatic project into an overspending, cheesy, special effect nightmare of a movie.  The studio of course blames all of this on our hero infecting the project with a “B movie virus.”

Any book that makes me laugh out loud I have to endorse.  The most comical scenes involve Campbell’s preparation and research for his character Foyl Whipple.  A stint as a doorman (Foyl’s profession) is not only disastrous but gets the unwanted attention of the US Secret Service.  Learning about relationships and how to give advice leads him into Lester Shankwater’s van which produces some of the funniest lines of the book as we watch how not to pick up women.  We also get a look at the gentlemen of the South, a stint as a wedding planner, an attack on the movie studio, and some hilarious interaction between Campbell and his co-stars Richard Gere and Rene Zellweger.

Finally an autobiography worth reading!

If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor

Usually in biographies of actors you get tales of studying in college or with renowned theatrical types.  What makes If Chins Could Kill so unique is it’s about an average guy who grew up enjoying film and theater, found friends who had similar interests, and set out to make a career as a working actor and would eventually become the B movie king.  None of that method bullshit here.  Campbell gives us some terrific memories of growing up in Detroit and about his early attempts into the world of Super 8mm films such as It’s Murder and The Happy Valley Kid.  He also stops from time to time to allow others to share their remembrances about specific events, including Sam Raimi.  Not too much mind you, this is his book after all; let those other guys get their own book deals!

We get a look at the torturous process of making Evil Dead, which after you read you may wonder how it ever got finished, a look at the sequels and Campbell’s work since then on projects such as Brisco County, Jr. and The Hudsucker Proxy.  For me though the best parts of the book were the anecdotes about his experiences and friendships made through growing up and Detroit and his early filmmaking days.  My favorite of these has to be the gag Campbell plays on his old friend David Goodman that involves a lemon of a car, a mechanic, a few phone calls, and the US Department of Justice.  Folks, friendship can be torture as Campbell himself learned from the evil glee Sam Raimi gets putting him, his friend, in some very hazardous situations while filming.

 

I’d recommend both of these books to fans of Bruce Campbell and fans of movies in general.  The novel is a very funny take on the difference between the A-list and B movies.  The autobiography I would also recommend to anyone interested in how to raise money, make, and market a movie or just how to make some great looking fake blood.  If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor is available in trade paperback for $13.95 and Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way is available in Hardcover for $23.95.  So what are ya’ waiting for already?  Get your butts to the bookstore and pick them up, or I might have to get out my Boomstick!

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