Tobey grinned. “We can’t make a Spider-Man movie without Bruce Campbell!”
“You’re starting to understand how Hollywood works, Tobey.” – Bruce Campbell, If Chins Could Kill
Bruce Campbell, star of the Evil Dead films, the Ash Vs. Evil Dead TV series, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films and Burn Notice, spills the beans once more on the ups and downs of a hard-working (and mostly unappreciated) actor’s life. His life, to be precise. His last autobiography – If Chins Could Kill – is now 16 years old, and he’s done a lot since that first volume became a New York Times bestseller. The world’s favourite B-movie actor tells more tales of his life and career in front of the camera, behind it, and sometimes as far away from it as he can get. With a down-to-Earth attitude about fame and fortune, you can always rely on him to tell it like it is. But is Hail To The Chin any good?
The honest answer is yes it is… although perhaps not as entertaining as the first volume. While the first half of it has anecdotes that will leave readers laughing, it dries up a little as the book goes on. It isn’t that they aren’t there, it’s just that sometimes the enthusiasm in the writing seems to fade. You know he’s got some funny tales to tell – it IS Bruce Campbell after all, and the guy’s seen more than his fair share of the craziness of filmmaking – but that doesn’t make every tale he tells a funny one and sometimes he’s just telling it like it is. Not every film or TV set is a laugh a minute, and not every moment on the convention circuit is going to lead to juicy gossip.
With that in mind, Campbell is still in amazing form as a writer with a conversational style which makes it feel like he’s addressing the reader personally in Hail To The Chin. It’s the same style he has as an actor and a celebrity, that informality as if he’s your oldest friend and is just chatting to you while you’re grabbing a beer together. His misadventures in renovating his house, buying a tractor he didn’t know how to drive and arguing with the phone company are all so ordinary that they’re easy to relate to. By comparison, how he broke a six million dollar tank while trying to joyride around an army base, how he pranked a friend by having him get arrested in Bulgaria and how he learned that filming in Colombia means never joking about stabbing someone, those aren’t normal… but they’re still relatable when he tells them.
That easy style makes reading this almost effortless, but then this isn’t War and Peace. It’s an autobiography of blue-collar actor who’s settled comfortably into a life of never being a real movie star, so what would you expect? Campbell doesn’t get paid the big bucks in Hollywood, doesn’t pull in the billion-dollar box office returns, and his most iconic role of Ash is one that beer-swilling, horror-film loving yahoos can cheer as he blows out the brains of Deadites and crack wise. That makes him better in so many ways, and this book is further proof of that. Because it’s a quick and enjoyable read, it seems over far too fast and you know there are probably a million other stories he could tell, but the ones he does tell he tells brilliantly.
So if you’re after some shoot-from-the-hip honesty about the crazy world of acting and being a cult celebrity, Hail To The Chin: Further Confessions Of A B-Movie Actor should be just what you’re looking for.