There are many reasons to be excited for the return of the Evil Dead franchise in Starz’s Ash vs Evil Dead this fall. We can get excited for the sure-to-be steady stream of one-liners. We can get excited for that intoxicating “splatstick” mix of horror and comedy. And we can get excited for the return of everyone’s favorite boomstick-wielding misfit, Ash.
But there is another, more nefarious reason to get excited — the on-screen punishment inflicted on star Bruce Campbell. But here’s the best part about it: There’s no need to feel bad about delighting in the physical abuse Campbell endures for the sake of his art. After all, his director doesn’t! We spoke to Sam Raimi about the seeming joy he derives from making his lifelong friend suffer while filming, and his feelings on the matter may just be my favorite thing of all time. Ladies and gentlemen, Sam Raimi on beating up Bruce Campbell:
“I don’t know what’s entertaining about it, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure. In this life, we’re supposed to respond to those things that give us bliss, and for me, this is that thing. So I find it to be a very healthy, productive, one-with-the universe-type thing to torment Bruce. And people love to watch his tormentation. I’m really the vessel — the innocent, wholesome, clear vessel to give the audience what they need, and they need to see him suffer. I think their entertainment is proportional to the amount of suffering Bruce does, and Bruce understands that now. I hit him with a stick every once in a while to prod him along a little for his own good and to get the performance we need out of him. And the kids appreciate that. I do agree it’s a little perverse, but it’s the evil dead who are torturing Bruce, and to make Bruce understand that from the inside out, it’s important to make him feel some pain.”
That may seem mean, but here’s the thing… Raimi’s right! We do love to watch Campbell suffer! Raimi knows it. We know it. And it seems Bruce Campbell knows it as well, because when I asked the star about his director’s comments, he said this: “I perform to entertain, basically, only Sam Raimi. Our relationship is — if I can get him to laugh, then he’ll print the take, basically. Whether I’m being injured or not, if you can get him to laugh — whether it’s a dramatic moment, or a comedic moment, or the most horrifying moment — my goal is to entertain him behind his monitor. And as long as I can do that, it’s good. So I strap the chainsaw on, pretty much, to entertain Sam. Because that’s the sensibility that I know we have to go for. He’s the one who’s determining what the hell’s going on here.”
So yes, it seems Campbell is still ready to endure pain for our gain. God bless him.
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