Bruce Campbell: Hail to the Chin – The 1428 Elm Review


At 1428 Elm, we were fortunate enough to attend one of the book signing events for Bruce Campbell. His Hail to the Chin hit retail outlets on August 15. For anyone who is interested in the film business or celebrity biographies, this memoir does not disappoint.

Sit back, grab your beverage of choice and let’s get our “read” on!

It’s a Montage

Bruce Campbell’s Hail to the Chin memoir begins with a montage of sorts, befitting for a book about the life of a working actor. It feels like the preamble to your favorite television show where you briefly recap what happened in last week’s episode.

In his case, he encapsulates the beginning of his life and career in the business within a few pages which is no easy feat. After you get the refresher course, you are ready to proceed to the next part of the show which takes place in the beautiful Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon.

Bruce Campbell – “Hail to the Chin” – Courtesy of Alistair Devine

American Gothic

Whenever a celebrity writes a book, I find that I’m probably in the minority of people who actually enjoys reading about real life events. Let’s face it. In Bruce Campbell’s case, we are well aware of his résumé. We may not be hip to all the little stories and anecdotes that take place on every set but we know the principles.

For me, I liked learning about his “hobbit house” and his battles with the phone company and wildlife. Sometimes what a person chooses to reveal gives you a clue as to their character and their philosophy in life, in general. Bruce Campbell has stated in numerous interviews that he isn’t someone to be put on a pedestal.

He is quick to point out that he can be irascible and impatient just like the rest of us when in his words, “things get bogged down.” Even though he is in the public eye, he isn’t afraid to admit his foibles, which is refreshing considering mostly everyone in Hollywood tries so hard to cover up every imperfection. One such instance is his recounting of his embarrassing DUI incident.

If we are truthful with ourselves, we all have things we would rather forget (felony speeding charges, good times) but they make us the unique individuals that we are — Bruce Campbell is no exception. While you laugh at some of his escapades, you are struck by how he has a very clear sense of who he is and who he is not. He remains a hard-working guy from Detroit whom we can identify with and that is part of his appeal as an actor.

The Life of a Modern Nomad

As everyone knows, a huge part of a thespian’s life is traveling from one location to the next. From Man with the Screaming Brain to the current STARZ series, Ash vs Evil Dead, Campbell’s world is a series of plane trips and adventures in exotic lands like Bulgaria and New Zealand.

While it sounds glamorous, he is quick to point out that isn’t always the case. There are crazy and laugh out loud remembrances that seem like scenes from a raucous comedy. One in particular that stands out is a paranoid episode after enjoying a recreational pursuit that results in his wife being locked out of the apartment to deal with the Bulgarian police on his behalf.

His trip to Iraq with Jeffrey Donovan while entertaining also manages to bring home the fact that war has a cost and the toll is a high price to pay.

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Of Friendship and Loyalty

One constant in most of Bruce Campbell’s works be they literary or cinematic is the people that he chooses to surround himself with and those players make an appearance in this tome. Familiar names such as Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, John Cameron, David Goodman and Ted Raimi all play critical roles in act two of his life.

Tinseltown is not a place that is full of lasting friendships. You are only as good as your next picture also applies to most relationships in that realm. At the core of Campbell’s associations with his pals from Michigan are a deep mutual respect and abiding trust. That is very admirable and also very rare in the cutthroat world of show business.

Rare Moments

What makes this book work and why it is a best seller is because of Campbell’s effortless writing style. He is witty, he is insightful but he is also impactful. There are parts of this novel that will make you howl with laughter but conversely there are parts that will make you think and yes, even tear up.

Hail to the Chin is an easy read. If you are so inclined and motivated, you can do it in one sitting. However, you may want to savor it because it is fun and terrific escapist entertainment.

Hopefully we won’t have to wait fifteen years for another book. Bruce Campbell’s third act is already in place if he desires it. He is a bona fide literary talent.

Next: Bruce Campbell: The crazy improv train ride interview

Bruce Campbell is currently on his whirlwind promotional tour of the country for Hail to the Chin. You can check out his schedule at If you haven’t done so already, you can order his book at You can also see what he’s up to @GroovyBruce on Twitter.