INTERVIEW: Bruce Campbell Talks Horror and Elvis Ahead of Evil Dead Rise

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Bruce Campbell — But Why Tho
Bruce Campbell on the 2023 SXSW Red Carpet | Credit: Rick Kern/FilmMagic.

Evil Dead Rise played as a special screening at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival. We got the chance to chat with Executive Producer Bruce Campbell on the SXSW red carpet. In this quick interview, we spoke with the acting veteran about leaving the tortureporn phase behind, his advice for future Elvis performers, and how Evil Dead evolved between the first and second films.

This interview has been edited for grammar and length.

BUT WHY THO: Can we take a brief detour from Evil Dead? Elvis is very hot right now. Austin Butler was just nominated for an Oscar. [Matthew] McConaughey is coming up, but Elvis portrayals begin and end with yours in Bubba Ho-Tep. So what words of encouragement do you have for future Elvises?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Well, I was lucky, because nobody got to play him at 68 with cancer on his penis. So, thankfully, I had no one that would be compared to me because nobody did old [Elvis]. All the Elvises are young. I’m the only old Elvis.

BUT WHY THO: That’s true. It’s that young hip-shaking that gets you. I get it. Again, we’re talking older generations; you come from an era of horror when you started with the franchise, where horror and humor were very closely married. Now have, I know we hate the term “elevated horror” –

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Now, that’s your term, not mine. I’ve never heard that before.

BUT WHY THO: Well we hate that term *laughs*i

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Now, the first Evil Dead we did was not meant to be funny, but you had inexperienced actors delivering shitty lines of dialogue. So, it became funny. Evil Dead 2 was the first time we decided to infuse a little bit of humor into it, which we then coined slapstick. Army of Darkness isn’t even really a horror movie. I mean, not really. I mean, I could put a nine-year-old in front of an Army of Darkness, and they’d be fine.

BUT WHY THO: Is it fair to say you originated the horror-comedy?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: We didn’t hurt it. The idea was the first Evil Dead, people fainted. We had a rape scene with vines [and] people walked out. And so. we honestly thought, oh, look, can we actually do something that isn’t quite like that? The guy who co-wrote the second one with Sam Raimi, Scott Spiegel, was the biggest Three Stooges aficionado you’ll ever meet. We called Larry Fine from the Three Stooges in the old actor’s home in 1974 to talk to him. This is one of the original Three Stooges. We were that big of a fan. He co-wrote Evil Dead 2, so that’s when they put all the weird shit into and it became a different thing.

Read our spoiler-free review of Evil Dead Rise here.

BUT WHY THO: How do you feel about this kind of dramatic edge that horror has taken?

BRUCE CAMPBELL: Every horror movie is different. I’m just glad we’re past tortureporn. Put a guy’s dick in a vice for 30 minutes and poking it with a stick? That’s not really filmmaking to me. Where’s the suspense? Where’s the jumpscares? Where’s that? That takes a skill between actors and filmmakers to create mood and tension, and it’s too easy of an out. So, I’m glad we’re past that tortureporn phase, that whole Hostel business. Rearview mirror. It’s time. Horror movies have gone through all kinds of phases. I don’t know where they are now. I couldn’t tell you. Well, “elevated horror” I guess. How do you define elevated horror?

BUT WHY THO: Did you see Misommar? 


BUT WHY THO: Well, it’s about working through the trauma and moving away from the blood and guts that we love so much and into the cerebral.

BRUCE CAMPBELL: C’mon, just cut their f***ing head off! Get With the program!

BUT WHY THO: Exactly! Have a wonderful rest of the fest!


Evil Dead Rise will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and is set to open in theaters in North America on April 21, 2023.

%d bloggers like this: