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If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, by Bruce Campbell Book Review | SFReader.com
If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, by Bruce Campbell Genre: Non-Fiction Publisher: L.A. Weekly Books Published: 2002 Review Posted: 6/6/2013 Reviewer Rating:
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If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, by Bruce Campbell
Book Review by Vincent W. Sakowski
Have you read this book?
Bruce Campbell wrote a book? Bruce Campbell can read and write?
Yes, it's true, and his book is not ghost written or a work of fiction, either. It's his own story: from his childhood up until the present day, chronicling his work in a variety of (largely speculative) films and television projects. Sounds like your average autobiography, but IF CHINS COULD KILL is anything but average.
There are several things that set this book apart from the usual Hollywood (auto)biography. First, there is Campbell's humble approach to his work. He's the first to admit that he's been in some questionable, if not downright bad projects. Still, he's generally made the best of each project. He's learned from his mistakes, and at the very least he gets work and paycheck. Throughout his film career, he has generally had large parts in independent or B movies, or small roles in Hollywood A movies. In many films he has appeared in, he's been on the other side of the camera, as producer, doing sound effects, or hauling equipment. Why did he do it? Because it needed to get done, and he was there, just another set of hands, or a beast of burden. It didn't matter if his name came before the title-- especially if Sam Raimi was at the helm-- Sam seems to have taken a lot of pride in ordering Campbell around.
Stylistically, the book is also more relaxed. Photos are included throughout the book. Often there are current interview segments-- generally between Campbell and others involved in his projects. There are diagrams, e-mail excerpts, drawings, newspaper clippings, childhood notes, a hilarious fictional forward and more. Overall, the book is given a scrapbook feel with a personal touch, as opposed to the regular (and often ghost written) Hollywood autobiography.
Many of his behind-the-scenes anecdotes are about cast and crew you'd normally never hear about. Many may wonder: "So what? I want to hear about 'The Stars' not the crew, and 'unknown' actors." Well, you do hear about some of Campbell's interactions with the "Hollywood Bigshots," as he likes to call them. But the point is, that for whatever minutes of film time these stars have, it's the people behind the scenes that bring the film to fruition. Their stories are just as interesting, sometimes even more so, so it's great to see someone in Campbell's position give them a voice-- rather than simply go on about his own exploits.
I also found it very interesting in that the book was almost a "HOW TO" (or "HOW NOT TO," as the case may be) about getting involved in the business of making movies-- particularly small/independent films. He and his friends started making films for $100, then for four or five, and so on, building on what they learned, finding new sources of revenue/sponsorship, exploring different genres, and just having fun. They persevered. Also, on the technical side, in several instances, Campbell has simple diagrams on how they did certain shots, since they didn't have the money for the usual (but more expensive means) of doing them.
My only real complaint was that the book was too short; especially in regards to some of his film projects like "Running Time." Stylistically, this film is such a rarity, (a la Hitchcock's "ROPE"-- shot in real time with no cuts), that it would have been great to have heard something of the behind the scenes, the challenges, and more.
So if you're interested in learning some of the ins and outs of a career in speculative film and television projects, (such as the "Evil Dead" trilogy, and "Xena, Warrior Princess") then pick up a copy of IF CHINS COULD KILL. Even if you're not a particular fan of Campbell's, but you're fan of the wide genres of science fiction and fantasy, it's worth reading. It's always entertaining, and you may even learn a thing or two. I know I did.
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