For years, Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi shot down the idea of a fourth “Evil Dead.” The low budget, super gory and increasingly silly horror series was how they made their name; 1981’s “The Evil Dead” was made on the fly as a guerilla no-budget affair. They’ve both moved on to bigger and sometimes even better: Campbell to shows like “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” and “Burn Notice”; Raimi to the “Spider-Man” films and dramas like “A Simple Plan.” But they eventually changed their minds. “Ash vs. Evil Dead,” which catches back up with Campbell’s one-handed demon-killer Ash, bows Halloween night at 9 p.m. on Starz, telling another tale of undead-fighting over 10 episodes. Raimi, who directed the first episode, and Campbell sat down with Metro.
Admittedly, I didn’t see the original two “Evil Dead” films when I was two and seven, but I did watch “Darkman” a lot when I was 11.
Bruce Campbell: “Darkman” was probably good for an 11 year old.
Sam Raimi: Bruce is in that one too. He’s in all of them.
Campbell: Well, we can hear me in that one.
Raimi: You’re at the end!
Campbell: I mostly screamed a lot. I was every criminal who fell to his death. That was my scream. [Loudly does the scream he would do] Guy out of a helicopter, guy out of a building — that was a tough one because that was a long fall. I even got a line of Liam Neeson’s in there: “Julie!!!” We used to imitate him all the time. I did Liam’s looping for foreign television, because we had to remove him saying “god.” “Oh my god” became “Oh please no.”
You spent a long time shooting down the idea of returning to “Evil Dead,” then recanted. What convinced you two to return?
Campbell: It was the idea of doing the character after you’ve had 25 years of experience. That’s a lot for me. I can fix Ash now. I can make him act better. Ash is a much better actor now.
You don’t look back on your early “Evil Dead” performances fondly?
Campbell: I can watch about half of “The Evil Dead” and then on. I can’t really watch the first half of “The Evil Dead.” It’s only after the misery’s really set in that you can really see on my face that I wasn’t acting anymore. Then it’s fine. Then it worked. Whenever I had to pretend, it wasn’t working.
So you can basically watch your acting evolution over the course of the movies you were in.
Campbell: No question about it. Part of doing this is I wanted to erase everyrone’s image of me. [Does a whiny voice] “Oh, you’re so well known as Ash, that’s what you’re known for.” Right — I’m 21, I don’t know how to act, that’s what I’m known for. Great. Now it’s like flooding the Internet with better images of yourself. That’s what I do — I try to get rid of the old images that people have of you at early book signings when you never dressed up, you look like a shlub, your hair’s standing straight up. I pass out really pretty images now. So I will flood the Internet with better performances of Ash and they’ll forget about the early stuff.
Campbell: I gotta tell myself something. George Lucas can do it as a filmmaker, I can do it as an actor.