105 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2002
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!
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2004
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).
Perhaps the most interesting part of the autobiography deals with the impact the 9/11 attack had on the promotional tour for the first edition of the book. Three years later, when most discussion of the event involves finger-pointing and blame-placing, it is interesting to read Campbell's take on how he and his wife did their best to keep their lives on course in the days and weeks after the WTC bombings. If you hadn't already gotten that Campbell is a do-whatever-it-takes trouper in the main body of the book, it becomes eminently clear in the appendix.
If you're a Bruce Campbell fan like I am, buy this book. Even if you don't want to make it big in the film industry, you'll find yourself yearning for a digital camera and a couple gullible friends by the time you finish reading it.
60 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2001
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.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2001
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.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2001
When I stood in line at Borders waiting to get this beast signed, Bruce himself past the line virtually unnoticed. He stopped, turned around and said, "What are you people standing around for?"
A humorous moment for me. And this book is filled with quite a bit of funny, a lot of insight, and it kinda turns into a guide on the ins and outs of Hollywood and stardom. There's a major look into the young Campbell and Raimi trying to pick up enough dough to make their first REAL movie, and then the hell they went through to get it done.
All in all, a great look at his film and television career's ins and outs (boy howdy, the outs are many!). Well worth whatever you pay for it. I got it and read it front to back in less than a day. Which isn't to say it's short, it's like 300 pages long, I was just engrossed to no end. In the car, in the car some more, at a friends house, and finished just before I went to bed. Great stuff. I highly recommend it. 5 stars, 10/10, whatever review form you go through it's at the peak.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2001
I'm not much of a book reader, so I normally don't get excited over autobiographies. But I must say that I read the book from cover to cover in one sitting and enjoyed it immensely. It's well-written, humorous, and offers insightful information on Hollywood through Campbell's trials and tribulations of making ends meet in the business. He discusses not only the Evil Dead movies, but also touches on the range of his work from Crimewave to the Hercules/Xenia TV shows. Campbell mentions little of his personal life, which is actually refreshing..allowing fans to get a sense of who he is through his writing and his film/TV work. He comes across as a "down to earth" kind of guy, sort of as someone who'd be chronicling his experiences in a diary. Avid Bruce Campbell fans will enjoy this book, as well as mainstream book readers who are looking for something fun and entertaining to read...oh, and two high points of the book: tons of photos and drawings; and short chapters (I don't know how many times I lost interest in a book because the chapters were 20-30 pages long). Highly recommended...
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2001
As an advid Bruce Campbell fan, like others I couldnt wait for the release of this book, I counted down the days until it was finally here. "If Chins Could Kill, Confessions Of A B-Movie Actor" is a tale of humor, fame, and the not so glorious side of Hollywood. You will read about Bruce's adventures with his brothers as a child, his unique relationship with Sam Raimi, and of course..The Evil Dead Films. Bruce comes across as an honest man just telling it how it is, this book had a riot of laughs, but also hits a sensitive side showing how dark Hollywood can be. This book is a must read, 5 out of 5 stars...Heres to Bruce being on the best sellers list!!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2006
Bruce Campbell has given us a breezy autobiography, of sorts, tracing his life and livelihood. He takes us through his grammar school years in suburban Detroit, various high school hijinks and his falling into a crowd of film enthusiasts. These guys weren't content to watch screenings however, they produced one poorly-named 8mm flick after another, steadily gaining experience with on-screen theatrics and post-production gymnastics. Several in this crowd went on to various careers in major motion picture production, including Bruce's friends Sam and Ted Raimi. Along with Robert Tapert, these guys formed the core that conceived, produced and presented the world with The Evil Dead, a cult horror classic if ever there was one.
I'll leave the rest for you to discover, and you'll have a great time doing it through Bruce's narrative. 'Breezy' seems the best way to describe an informative, entertaining work that you can knock out in a few quiet hours. Bruce's chronological recollections are interspersed by modern interview snippets with childhood friends who, likewise, moved into filmmaking as adults. It's a delight to see that on most occasions, their film committments were truly a labor of love. About the only element I criticize would be more insight into Bruce's failed shots at roles. Without cataloging every single audition, I would have appreciated more on his struggles to find work.
The paperback edition expands on the 300 page hardback version, with a chronicle of Bruce's cross-country book promotion tour. It just happened to coincide with the attacks of September 11, 2001, and for the collective many who have forgotten the uncertainty and pervasive fear in the immediate aftermath, Bruce's notes on the same might remind you how you felt at that time.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2002
It's not often one finds a literate actor-personality so willing to share not only opinions but be open about the process that leads one into filmmaking. But, it's so surprise that Bruce Campbell should fit into that category. In his website updates and in person, he comes across as a down-to-earth, intelligent guy who seems more comfortable as a poker buddy than a high-falootin' actor. His book, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, reinforces that image.
Campbell starts at the beginning, with his parents, and goes through formative (and hilarious) experiences in his schooldays, including meeting Sam Raimi and other filmmaking contemporaries. The stories about making Super-8 films during and after high school are great, as was the process by which the team ended up making The Evil Dead (not a bad guide for people looking to break into the `Biz, either). Campbell talks about his experiences in other films and TV shows like Brisco County, all the way up until his recent involvement in Xena and Jack of All Trades.
Campbell's tour-de-force is as funny as it is informative, and his tongue-in-cheek style resonates and makes for a very easy read. Even those not familiar with Campbell and his work, or movies in general, will find enough to keep them interested; fans will definitely want to give this book a once - or twice - over.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2001
If Chins Could Kill is not only a really funny and entertaining biography; it is also a very touching, well-thought read. You get a lot from this book, more than one would imagine to get from a so-called b movie actor.
Campbell goes through his entire career in this book, from the 8mm shorts he directed and acted in with pal Sam Raimi to the Evil Dead films to his hollywood bs right up to his role as actor/director in the tv series Xena and Hercules.
Of course, the best parts of the books are the ones where Campbell talks about his experience at shooting the Evil Dead flicks. Those parts area great as we really get to see how hard it is to make an independant film. If there is one person out there who is full of determination and guts, it's Campbell! The hell he went through to make those film is nearly unbelievable. But Bruce isn't shy to say what's really on his mind; and so this book is filled with good annecdotes and interesting tidbits about the ways of Hollywood (and he loves to tell us how much he hates Tom Arnold, which is always a plus!!!).
This is more than a tell-all book. Campbell has written that rare biography that is a lot more than a simple recollection of one's craft. And have I mentioned how hillarious the book is? Campbell is a great guy indeed. Anyone who enjoys films - especially b films for that matter - will love this book.