When director Sam Raimi unleashed his indie classic The Evil Dead in 1981, little did anyone realize the scrappy little shocker would help propel him onto the Hollywood A-list.

While Raimi found critical and commercial success with films like The Gift, Darkman and, most potently, the Spider-Man series, his leading man, the smirking, square jawed, human cartoon Bruce Campbell, garnered a very different class of celebrity.

Since starring in all three of Raimi’s Evil Dead films, the 51-year-old Campbell (in town this Friday as the guest of honour at Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear) has appeared in a multitude of offbeat, B-movie classics, amassing a loyal following of admirers in the process.

And though he isn’t entirely comfortable with the handle, there’s no denying that the multi-talented actor is now a genuine cult phenomenon.

“I don’t make up that stuff, that’s for the pundits and the media to say,” Campbell says about his fan approved status.

“I often sit back and wonder what these people are yelling about. It’s been a really surreal experience ... a wild ride.”

Whether it be writing, directing and starring in his own films — like 2007’s My Name is Bruce — appearing in popular TV shows, penning bestselling books or being moulded for a line of action figures, every public move Campbell makes is cause for celebration amongst his flock.
And sometimes, those fans can be more than a little hardcore.

“Women often ask me to sign their (breasts) and recently, in Austin, a bunch of guys asked me to sign their, um, appendages. I guess they must run right over to the tattoo parlour to get it on there permanently before it rubs off.”

Campbell’s stop at the Festival of Fear is only one of several appearances he makes at counterculture film conventions across North America.

And while some may sneer at the clientele, who line up for hours — often dressed in elaborate costumes — just to get a glimpse of their idols, Campbell sees it all as a positive outlet.

“I don’t need to tell these people to get a life — this is their life. This is a release for them. Some of them are weird, sure, but there are a lot of weird guys running around it the general population too.”

Best of fest
Rue Morgue’s Festival of Fear takes place this Friday through Sunday, with film screenings, autograph sessions and Q-and-As with Roger Corman and others as part of Fan Expo Canada 2009. The expo runs Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Here is a look at what else is taking place:

• COMIC BOOK EXPO: Special guests include Marvel Comics’ Joe Quesada, DC Comics’ Dan Didio, comic creator Len Wein and artists like Mike Deodata Jr., Chris Bachalo and Ivan Reis.

• SCIENCE FICTION EXPO: Those making appearances at the event include Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy, The Terminator’s Linda Hamilton, and Battlestar Galactica’s Mary McDonnell.

• OTHER EVENTS: Fan Expo will also include a gaming and anime expo, along with other special events. For more details on Fan Expo Canada 2009, visit www.fanexpocanada.com.

Online

• For more information, visit www.bruce-campbell.com