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If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor Hardcover – June 23, 2001

311 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though it offers few revelations about the details of Campbell's personal life, this entertaining and witty Hollywood memoir combines his life story with how-to guidance on making independent films and becoming a pop culture cult hero. Campbell began working in show business as a teenager, and in high school became friends with future director Sam Raimi, with whom he eventually co-produced the 1982 cult horror hit Evil Dead, in which Campbell starred. Despite his wry, modest sense of humor Campbell recognizes the peculiar place that Evil Dead holds in contemporary culture he sincerely conveys the enormous commitment and work that went into making and marketing the movie. By the time he describes the film's premiere, Campbell's sense of triumph is palpable: we share his excitement when the film makes back its money and by 2000 becomes number three on the all-time video charts after Lady and the Tramp and Titanic. When Campbell isn't starring in new films like Evil Dead II and Moontrap, he is desperately often hilariously looking for investors for his new projects. His subtitle aside, Campbell's career has gone mainstream: he has appeared in Homicide and Ellen, is a regular on Hercules and Xena, and has started directing as well. (June)Forecast: While a boon to film cultists and to Campbell's many fans, this book also has enough insights and smarts to appeal to readers with a serious interest in popular culture. A planned author tour and national print advertising will help it capitalize on Campbell's cult following.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This engaging memoir offers much more than the standard, glamorous "and then I did..." show business autobiography. In an informal and entertaining style, Campbell describes his suburban childhood in 1950s Detroit, his introduction to acting at 13 via a summer stock production of The King and I, his involvement in theatrics and an 8mm movie production in high school, a semester-long foray into higher education, and his adult career as an actor. A large portion of the work is devoted to his friendship and working relationship with director Sam Raimi, who was a high school classmate and whose successful film Evil Dead brought them both to public attention. The book offers insights into the world of independent filmmaking and the life of a "B" actor, but most importantly it succeeds as an evocative memoir that allows the reader to know Campbell. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries with film collections. Bruce Henson, Georgia Tech Lib., Atlanta
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: L.A. Weekly Books; 1st edition (June 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312242646
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312242640
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (311 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

109 of 115 people found the following review helpful By A. Liebling on February 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you only read one book this year, then you are an illiterate fool. But this should be the book you read. Bruce Campbell, cult hero (and actor), wrote the perfect book for his fans - it drips with charisma, his clever and self-depreciating humor, and a genuine personal and honest touch you rarely find in your run-of-the-mill, ghost-written Hollywood memoir. And it has everything a Deadite could want - very amusing anecdotes of his early childhood and teen years, tons and tons of photos, fascinating behind-the-scenes info about the making (and funding) of the Evil Dead movies, and tons of valuable insight into the Hollywood system, from the point of view of the low man on the totem pole.
I found his casual, anecdotal writing style really fun, although I agree with critics that he doesn't get too detailed or self-analytical about his personal life. He also breezes over his television work, which might frustrate Brisco and Xena fans. But in general, Bruce Campbell - an extremely likeable guy - succeeds with this extremely likeable book.
Hail to the king!
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58 of 59 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Mikesell on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Bruce Campbell's autobiography is an immensely fun read. Written conversationally (admittedly one-sided, unless you're given to talking to inanimate objects), the book provides a frank and surprisingly objective look at Campbell's life and career.

The book begins with Campbell's childhood in rural/suburban Michigan and the transformation that took place in high school when he met the Raimi brothers. How Campbell's career intersects time and again with the Raimi's and other high school cohorts is presented throughout the book. When one thinks of Hollywood bigshots, backstabbing and betrayal come to mind before lifelong friendships. Perhaps that explains why Bruce Campbell isn't a Hollywood bigshot - but why he has a huge fan following nonetheless.

In detailing the blood (Karo syrup-based and real), sweat and tears that went into making the first Evil Dead feature, the book presents scenes that are as horrifying as anything in the movie itself (it also provides the best tangential recipe I've come across since I read Clifford Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg), but it also makes it seem like a ton of fun. Probably a quarter of the book is devoted to the Evil Dead process: conception, prototype, capital-raising, filming, editing, distribution, etc. Even with the documentary features on the Evil Dead DVDs, there's plenty of new information here. If you're not aware of what goes into making a feature film, this is an eye opener.

Campbell doesn't go into as much detail about what goes into TV production, but he does share some interesting and amusing anecdotes (including details of David Duchovny's embarrassing flatulence problems).
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61 of 65 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is just plain fun to read.
Okay, sure... you get some interesting insight into the struggles it takes to be a working actor in Stage, Film, TV and that spore-infested place called Hollywood. I certainly enjoyed anecdotes about the Evil Dead films, Brisco County Jr., Congo, Hercules, Xena, the X-files and more... But lets face it, Bruce Campbell brings one thing to his roles that got me interested enough to buy the book in the first place: a sense of fun. And *that* is represented in his writing in spades. For proof, I merely had to catch my wife (whose usual reaction to any Bruce Campbell masterpiece is to groan in despair) happily reading this book herself... This turned out to be fairly easy, since every other page had her laughing out loud.
I didn't complain, since I had already finished it... I read the entire thing cover to cover (a fairly meaty 300 pages) the same day it arrived. It's written in such a lively, engaging style that it was never put down for long.
If you're interested enough to read these reviews, then you're interested enough to buy the book and enjoy the heck out of it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
OK, maybe it could be better organized, maybe it has a few moments of weird formatting, but this book is a fascinating journey through the life and mind of the beloved, hard-working, slightly off-kilter Bruce Campbell. It's as close as many people will get to sitting down and shooting the breeze with the actor about life, film, and television.
Quite simply, this is one man's story - but like anything from the heart, you learn a lot about quite a few other things - and in this case, most of what you learn about is film, television, Holywood, and the fact that acting, when you get down to it, is difficult work that doesn't make most people rich - if they stick with it at all.
Find out how the Rami brothers started. Read about Bruce's love of acting and the hardships he endured for something he really enjoyed. Get the dirt on Evil Dead. Read about the ups and the many downs of movie and acting careers. Get a little insight into how Hollywood has changed over the years. Read about the horror of special effects and makeup.
If you've ever enjoyed Bruce Campbell in a role and want to get a glimpse of the non-glamorous, real side of Hollywood, get this book. You'll meet a remarkable individual who's really not different than the rest of us, and he'll show you all the sides of movies and TV most people forget to mention.
In the end, the book is both interesting, educational, and actually inspiring - seeing one boy from Detroit make it in movies and telvision will really make you think. Seeing what he was willing to face will make you think about what you'd be willing to give up for what you love.
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