Bruce Campbell: Honoring the king with a different kind of birthday tribute


“Splatstick” legend, Bruce Campbell, turns 59 today. In honor of this milestone, 1428 Elm is deciding to do something a little different. We’re paying tribute to some of his lesser known works.

How well do you know Bruce Campbell’s iconic filmography?

The Highlights

Of course, it’d be easier to discuss Campbell’s more obvious triumphs. Such legacy builders as Ash vs Evil Dead, the Evil Dead film franchise, Bubba Ho-Tep and Burn Notice are predominantly cited as being fan favorites.

However, I want to focus on some of his performances that showcase what a truly versatile actor he is. Plus, I really dig the fact that he is one of the hardest working men in showbiz.

Guilty Pleasures

The EscortAt first, I didn’t think I was going to like this quirky little indie comedy from 2016. Then I found myself getting involved in the story. Michael Doneger plays a journalist, Mitch, who’s an unabashed sex addict. He’s the type of person who uses apps for random hook ups at all hours in Los Angeles.

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After losing his job, he’s drinking in a bar when he is approached by the enigmatic and beautiful escort, Natalie (Lyndsy Fonseca). The two strike up a conversation, and after Mitch rebuffs her advances because he “can’t afford” her services, she disappears into the night.

In desperate need of a source of income after a series of failed interviews, Mitch offers to write a spec article for a publication on the secret life of an escort. He sets out to find Natalie. Of course, he succeeds and ends up being her “bodyguard” on jobs. Through many adventures together, the pair end up falling in love.

Bruce plays Mitch’s hippy, songwriting father, Charles. This is an interesting character for him because Charles is very much a new age, Zen, kind of Chakra aware type of guy. He’s definitely in touch with his spiritual side. Let’s face it, Ash, Elvis and Sam aren’t exactly men who are going to be meditating in a Lotus position, right? Plus, it’s fun to see Bruce sans blood and playing the Dad role.

‘A Nightmare on State Street’ — Courtesy of USA

Psych (A Nightmare on State Street): Gus and Shawn are at it again. This time, Gus is having difficulty sleeping. He’ s in therapy with none other than Dr. Ashford N. Simpson (love that nod to the “Solid as a Rock” duo) who is played by Campbell.

This episode of the crime fighting series has every horror trope imaginable in it from Night of the Living Dead to Evil Dead. Bruce’s character is another new-agey guy who dresses in tunics and espouses pop psychology. His explanation on how he entered Kate Capshaw’s dreams is hysterical. However, at the end of the show, “Evil Dead” fans are not disappointed!

Running TimeThis is one of my favorite films of Campbell’s. His performance is solid and believable.  A taut, neo-noir film shot in black and white, it’s the story of Carl and a very fateful day after he is released from prison.

With the help of his friends, Carl decides to pull a heist that he has been planning ever since he was in the joint. To celebrate his freedom, his friend Patrick hires a hooker for him. As it turns out, the girl ends up being his old high school sweetheart, Janie, who has fallen on hard times.

The two reconnect and Carl vows to go out with her. Of course, the job doesn’t go according to plan leaving Carl on the lam. He turns to Janie for help. The scene where they discuss why they broke up in high school is heart wrenching.

X Files (Terms of Endearment): In this particular episode of the popular series, Bruce plays a demon with a heart of gold. All Wayne Weinsider wants is the perfect family. He is in search of a mate who will bear a human child.

This performance was not full of your typical one liners and jokes that Campbell is so famous for. He actually becomes quite emotional in this show and I wasn’t prepared for that at all. I guess why I like him in this role so much is because you can feel this character’s pain. You actually end up caring about him because he is not the typical monster.

‘The Woods’ — Courtesy of United Artists

The Woods: A neat witch flick set in the 60’s in New England. Bruce is Joe Fasulo, the parent of Heather (played by the wonderfully talented Agnes Bruckner) a girl with disciplinary issues. Heather is sent away to a posh boarding school where things aren’t what they seem.

The teachers are weird and the students are weirder. While she is attending the school, Heather discovers she has developed some latent telekinesis abilities. After some failed attempts to escape, Joe and his wife retrieve their daughter only to be caught up in a whirlwind of creepiness.

Bruce is very quiet in this film. Gone is the brashness of Ash and the gregariousness of Sam. Instead, we see a man who is truly trying to protect his daughter and do what is right for her. Joe is a very internalized character and Campbell plays him rather well.

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The Wrap

Hopefully we are entertained by Bruce’s performances for many years to come. With Daniel Day-Lewis announcing his retirement from acting, someone has to pick up the slack. Are you game, Mr. Campbell?

Have you seen any of the Bruce Campbell performances on the list? What are some of your favorite Bruce characters? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.