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If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor By Bruce Campbell
Reviewed by Oct 14th, 2009

It almost makes one think Bruce Campbell is a bit like the Army of Darkness-era Ash: witty, sarcastic, heroic, and above all, endlessly entertaining. Yesterday morning I opened up a package from St. Martin’s Press to find a copy of If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor, and the book didn’t leave my hands until I read the last page (well, actually I did take time out for dinner…).

The book starts off well with an insane foreword by (or, perhaps better stated, “involving”) Sam and Ivan Raimi. I won’t explain it, this is something you have to read yourselves. In the words of Barry Neville, the Editor, “I beg the reader not to judge [Campbell's] character by the quality of his friends.”

From there on, Bruce Campbell entertains the reader with an endless onslaught of anecdotes, show biz horror stories, and bizarre fan mail. Evil Dead fans with have a great time devouring the set stories detailing the making of the “prototype” film Within the Woods. There are drawings of the unique camera setups, a story of Bruce’s Karo-covered shirt actually breaking, accounts of the crew’s endless attempts to find investors, even a diagram of Ash’s facial scars.

Of course, many other films and TV gigs are discussed in the book as well. Of his small role in the TV series Knots Landing, Bruce recalls the following makeup scene:

As the makeup man surveyed my face, I sensed that something was very wrong.

“I think we should pluck between your eyebrows,” he said, with the bedside manner of a field nurse.

“Really, why would you do that?”

“Because you’ll look far more intelligent.”

The text is supplemented by ample photos, from goofy high school pictures, to a picture of Hercules character Autolycus in drag, which could turn milk sour. The on-set anecdotes are priceless, and enjoyable even if you didn’t watch the movies in question. In the end, If Chins Could Kill is a highly entertaining book by a man who obviously loves his trade. The book presents an inside look at the not-always-glamorous world world of making movies, without being depressing in the least. He offers his insight into the mysterious world of B Movies, and details his trials and tribulations in his career.

“To one way way of thinking, actors have a charmed life — we are artists, free to express childlike emotions and we are pampered beyond reason… To another way of thinking actors are a miserable lot — they are insecure, vain and temperamental, clawing about in a world more competitive than almost any profession. How many rocket scientists would line up around the block, in the rain, lobbying to work for just one day?”

Campbell manages to not make “another phony, ‘tell-all’ book about an actor’s ‘meteoric’ rise or ‘tragic’ fall.” Instead, he writes a book about his many successes and failures, his adventures along the way, and conveys a poignant sense of his views on movie making in general, dedicated to “the players on the second string, the B people, if you will, and I cheerfully include myself in that lot.”

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