Over the past decade I’ve gotten to do a lot of really cool things while working for Collider. I’ve stood on the set of superhero movies. I’ve watched amazing actors deliver some incredible performances. I’ve even watched Harry Potter stand his ground against Professor Severus Snape. But while all of the things I just mentioned were amazing, as a longtime fan of Bruce Campbell and the Evil Dead series, getting to visit the set of Ash vs Evil Dead season 2 when the production was filming in New Zealand earlier this year was near the top of the list. And the main reason for that was the interview you’re about to read.
During a break in filming, I got to hang out in Bruce Campbell’s trailer and do an interview while some blood effects were being added to his arms. While getting to ask Campbell questions in a one on one setting was cool on its own, getting to see what goes into making Ash come to life on set was something I’ll never forget.
Like many of you, I was a bit nervous when Starz announced they’d be making an Ash vs Evil Dead series. The fact is a lot of TV shows start out with the best of intentions but for whatever reason they don’t work. As a fan of the Evil Dead, I didn’t want the show to ruin the franchise, but I also realized if they could pull it off, Starz might be a great place to keep Ash fighting deadites because they’d have the freedom to get crazy and pull off some amazing blood and gore. And if you’ve seen any of season one, you know that’s exactly what they did! While I went in nervous, I’ll fully admit everyone involved in Ash vs Evil Dead hit a homerun in season one by taking everything that makes fans love the series and bringing it to the small screen. With season 2, it looks like they’re raising the bar even higher and I’m extremely confident fans are going to love it. In fact, Chris watched the first few episodes and loved what he saw.
During my interview with Bruce Campbell we talked about the freedom that comes with being on Starz, what fans can look forward to on season 2, his desire to have Lynda Carter play his mom, the crazy amount of blood they use on the show including the blood keg, his die-hard fans, our mutual hatred of the MPAA, and a lot more. Check out what he had to say below.
Ash vs. Evil Dead Season 2 premieres October 2nd on Starz.
COLLIDER: I won’t lie, talking to you on the set of Evil Dead is just fucking cool.
BRUCE CAMPBELL: Yeah it is fucking cool. We pulled it off. I’m not even sure how it happened, it’s been a long journey. I think we’ll all have a good laugh a few years from now, hopefully, that we managed to – because you know, each movie was made with a different studio. So you can imagine the legal bullshit of doing this.
I’m not worried, I will make it work.
CAMPBELL: It’s turned off, it has to – machines need to get over themselves. The most obnoxious machines in the world are printers, $69 printers. Do not interrupt when I’m gearing up.
Literally junk. I think one of the things, I loved the first season, and I think it’s a very unique content for television. You brought Evil Dead to television.
CAMPBELL: Yeah, it’s weird content for TV. But the fans, the funny thing is, if we did another feature, it would way too expensive, if the thing bombed it would kill the franchise. So what I wanted to make sure fans understand is, this is how you get the goods. You do television. This year alone they can have five new hours of Evil Dead. If we made a movie, they’d have an hour and a half. And they might not see any more. But with television, you can have it now every year. You can have fresh hours a year of new material. And Starz is the only, we can’t even do movies unrated. This is an unrated TV show. If you want Evil Dead, it only has to be on Starz. It’s the only place it can actually play. It’s one thing to like Starz, I mean we do, we’re very grateful for them that they took this flyer, it’s the only home for it. AMC was in the bidding, there were a couple other networks in the bidding. And one of the key questions was, “what is your content restrictions?” Because you don’t – Evil Dead 2 was unrated. The first Evil Dead had no rating, it was never rated. We didn’t go through the ratings board on two movies so by the time Army of Darkness came through, the ratings board knew. And they had it out for us. They gave Army of Darkness with talking skeletons NC-17. And we were like, “what should we cut?” They go, “it’s the cumulative effect.” We’re like, “bullshit! You have to tell us!” We made so many changes. You cut a skeleton’s head off, dust would come out. Wasn’t even blood. It’s a very bloodless – of the movies, it’s the least bloody and got NC-17.
I can’t put into words my hatred of the MPAA and I don’t want to get you in trouble.
CAMPBELL: It’s so random!
CAMPBELL: It’s so random! I use Goodfellas as an example. The opening five minutes of that movie, there’s a guy in a trunk that they already tried to kill, he’s bound against his will, they open the trunk, Joe Pesci stabs him probably fifteen times, “hey, fucking guy,” while he’s swearing at him. That’s torture. That’s onscreen, big Hollywood, but it’s torture but they got away with it because it’s Marty Scorsese.
[Someone walks into the trailer]
CAMPBELL: Hello, we’re just doing interviews, so you can work in here. This is Ali.
CAMPBELL: So, when we did the remake a few years ago, it was through Sony and it was an easier go.
Sure, you have their backings and whatnot.
CAMPBELL: Isn’t that ridiculous? If we were just little indies flapping in the breeze, they would have gone, “fuck you.” Because Evil Dead, the remake is gory. It’s gory.
Sure. Again, I hate the organization because of the way they can change the rules with no warning.
CAMPBELL: It’s just arbitrary.
It’s complete bullshit.
CAMPBELL: If you want to come up with a level playing field, it’s fine. But you know, the Hays office that goes way back to the 30s. They’ve been trying to sanitize shit – how about if everyone gets out of our business? How’s that? Let me work it out with the audience.
I really want to jump into Season 2, but my thing is, you need to have a list of rules. You need to make it clear. Because when you change the rules, every time that’s bullshit.
CAMPBELL: Well, there are no rules, it’s a moving tape measure.
That’s my major beef with the MPAA. But let’s talk about Season 2.
CAMPBELL: We’ll get back to the MPAA.
Right. But one of the things about Season 1 is, on any show, you are figuring out the infrastructure of how to create the content. How to do the blood, how to make – what does the audience want? How can we tell this story on television? Now that you did it with Season 1 with such great effect, how are you raising the bar in Season 2, or what can fans look forward to you know, now that you’ve done it once?
CAMPBELL: Now you’re stuck with these characters. Now you’ve got to go with them on their journey. It’s bigger. Season 2 is Ash going home, it’s all about Ash going home. Which is great because now you get to see behind the curtain. You never saw Ash’s home life before, you never saw him talking to his dad. You never saw him with an old girlfriend or an old pal, you never saw that side of Ash. So I’m really glad that we got idiots like Ted Raimi to play Chet, Ash’s old pal, because we are old pals. It’s easy to play. And getting Lee Majors as my dad, to me the only thing that could equal that is if we get Lynda Carter for my mom. And I’m lobbying for that.
That would be amazing.
CAMPBELL: I want Wonder Woman and the Six Million Dollar Man to give birth to Ash. That makes so much sense. She’s brunette –
That would be awesome.
CAMPBELL: I’m telling you. “Pass the butter, mom.” To film a scene around the table like that with those two would be awesome. But Season 2 is you’re continuing the story, the journey. Because it’s TV, you’ve got to come up with ten episodes, but it’s a lot more character development. And like Pablo’s got his own weird thing. He’s turning out to be more than a sidekick because he’s one, he had an uncle who’s a brohou, he’s got a medallion, I think he’s finding out that he’s a little more clued into this than he thought as far as his abilities. Not supernatural, but certainly clairvoyance, and he’s got an interesting journey Season 2. And Kelly’s going to spend time with Ruby and get a little mentorship going. Because Ruby has a slightly different take this season. She’s got a different status, I guess you could say. In a random way. So we’re segmenting, going off on many little adventures within the big adventure.
One of the things that I loved about Season 1 was, holy fuck the amount of blood you guys pulled off.
CAMPBELL: Lotta blood.
It was unbelievable. In every episode, someone was getting doused or exploded.
CAMPBELL: It’s a lotta blood, it’s a lot of blood. We’ve really defined our blood delivery systems. We have a keg.
CAMPBELL: It’s the blood keg. And when they roll that out, they have a dolley, they roll it out and there’s a high pressure tube, one that goes in and one that goes out. And it is a blood kegger. And when they wheel that out, you know that some bad shit is going to happen. And then they even have, you can dip a paintbrush in a bucket of blood and go like this *thwap* right across. Right out of frame. Sam Raimi knows where his arm stops, he knows where the thing is and he can get right out of frame. It’s incredibly low-budget, but you get this great fleck. It’s like a blood by. So we have all variations that we’ve really been refining. We have viscera canons. We used one yesterday.
Oh, wait, I saw, yeah.
CAMPBELL: You have to decide what’s going in it: is it brains, is it just blood, is it general viscera? You know, if it’s a demon brain then maybe it’s not the normal shit. So you have to figure out what’s in it and then you have to figure out the dispersal. So some, we had to add a longer dispersal tube yesterday because it was too wide and it was too shotgun-y. We had to narrow it to get a higher impact. But we’ve had stuff before we got our testing done that made you wince. These canons that would go off right in your face.
Sure. I think I saw that in Season 1.
CAMPBELL: Yeah. So, we’ve continued that and just continued to refine it.
I have to ask, because you’ve been doing this for a long time, playing this character. Are you ever at the point where – is it ever too much for you? Because I saw something yesterday with like the blood on your face, and I thought, “jesus, that takes some work to get on and off.”
CAMPBELL: Just talk to her. Ali knows all about it.
“ALI”: Yeah. No, he never complains, he’s a complete trooper. I call him “Ash the Action Man.” He’s done so many stunts, this season and I’m like, on the sidelines thinking, “shit, will you just get him off and get the stunt guy on deck?”
CAMPBELL: She worries for me.
ALI: I’m like “Team Ash!”
CAMPBELL: She’s part of Team Ash. It takes a village to raise an Ash.
ALI: Yeah, he never complains. He just gets on with it. I’m the one who complains.
CAMPBELL: It just gets, I’m 57 now. First Evil Dead I was 21. So, what did we know? Back then about comfort or about planning or even having a warm bucket of water, with a sponge. Did anyone think about that? No. So we just sat around, I had a fly swatter. Because karo syrup was our original base. And I would just swat the flies that would come and land on my syrupy body. Yeah, it was brutal. So now, we have better blood. The special effects department uses what we call “Evil Blood,” because it stains. They have to make big batches of it. She uses the specialized stuff that’s expensive, but it doesn’t stain, so she’ll put it all on my face so it’ll not only harden, it’ll still look good, but it won’t stain. And the trick of getting the stain off is a big spoiler: shaving cream. If it’s all over your hands, and you need a take two, and it’s starting to stain, get in there quick – shaving cream. Wash your hands with shaving cream, it has some lifting property. Probably some bleaching agent and it can get off 75% of your stain.
I think that’s probably the most important thing that people reading are going to be like – fuck, that’s the best news.
CAMPBELL: I did the recipe in my first book, If Chins Could Kill, I gave the recipe for fake blood. I always wanted a usable recipe. We never had a recipe.
Sure. You were making it up as you went.
CAMPBELL: And then we refined it, we were making it in the karo bottle itself, you can make a whole batch of blood within that bottle.
I have to ask you, you have very passionate fans.
CAMPBELL: They’re great.
CAMPBELL: They could have crucified us, too. The good news is, they’ve embraced it.
That’s what I wanted to ask you. The thing about the character in this universe, there are people that love it. And tattoo their bodies.
CAMPBELL: Oh, I got the pictures.
Oh, I know.
CAMPBELL: I got 200 pictures now.
So what I’m saying is, how much were you cognizant of not disappointing the fans and trying to be a show that would work for everyone but also trying to appeal to the die-hards?
CAMPBELL: Well, they’re the ones who made this happen because they’re the ones that would never shut up about another movie or something. So, that’s why we sat down with Sam. Rob [Tapert]’s a TV guy, I just came from Burn Notice. We’re TV guys. Like, “Sam, what do you think as a TV show?” We needed his street cred to come in and bless it and direct the pilot, and set the bar. But we could not have done it without the fans they are relentless. And you know what, Starz just needed to see that. We knew it. I’ve been going to conventions since ‘88. So I knew they were out there.
No, because I was tired of feeling like I was living at my grandmother’s house. So they’re the ones who – Starz saw it at the New York Comic-Con. They passed out the chainsaw foam hands and it was all over. They thought they were going to see a ten-minute clip. And Sam’s like, “we’re going to show you the whole thing.” And they lit their hair on fire. You know, and I was looking at Sam like, this is a good reaction. And the Starz people were like, “mmm.” And the trailer got 12 million views on Facebook. And that was double any other shows Starz had done. So I think they’re starting to put the pieces together here. We all knew it. And we said, “look, you gotta sell us around the world.” The original Evil Dead started overseas. They know this name overseas. So, you’ll be able to sell this over there. Because some TV shows, it doesn’t translate across the big ditch. You can’t sell them over there. But this has been selling overseas for years. So, so far so good. But the fans are integral. And we were nervous, because look, Sam can’t direct every episode, so the fans have to allow that to happen. But I think they’ve stuck with it because we’ve tried to be really loyal, really faithful, there’s a shitton of carnage, mayhem and gags. So it’s the same. We’re very aware of what our responsibilities are.
Thank you for your time.