Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B Movie Actor Book Review

Written by Robert Gold

Published by St. Martin's Griffin

Written by Bruce Campbell
2019, 348 pages, Non-Fiction
Book released on September 17th, 2019


Lurking just under the surface of the glitzy and glamourous lifestyles of Hollywood A-listers are another classification of cast members – the B-movie actors. On one hand, you have the mega-budget studio blockbusters where the talent commands paychecks worth millions, and then there are the independents. Low-budget pictures that push the envelope in both creativity and storytelling ways populate cinemas and drive-ins usually as the second bill on a double feature or they bypass theaters altogether and go straight to video. Genre pictures have their own celebrities and the fan base is loyal and ravenous. In 1982, a trio of Michigan filmmakers, Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell, unleashed their independent masterpiece The Evil Dead and audiences worldwide ate it up.

Each of the three men went on to enjoy great success in the industry, with Sam Raimi becoming one of the top directors in Hollywood while producer Rob Tapert made his name in television. Bruce Campbell proved himself quite versatile as both a leading man and a character actor. He has appeared in mainstream movies as well as in featured roles on television, but it is in the world of B-movies that he forged his career. Campbell has a reputation of being an all-around nice guy who is dedicated, hard-working and incredibly talented. In 2001, he penned a memoir, If Chins Could Kill, chronicling his first twenty years in the industry. Now, almost two decades later, he’s back with a sequel, Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor.

Bruce Campbell is an excellent storyteller who quickly establishes a friendly, intimate tone as though he were simply hanging out with the reader sharing anecdotes from his madcap journey through Hollywood. The new book opens with a brief recap of the story so far and then effortlessly picks up where he left off. Starting with a peek inside his private life, he reveals details of his decision to escape the system and move his family to rural Oregon. He shares his experiences of life outside the city and adjusting to a less stressful environment where he has more control over the projects he chooses to work on.

Before long, Campbell caught the directing bug and made his debut with The Man with the Screaming Brain (2005), a film shot in Bulgaria for budgetary reasons. He reflects on the pressures and challenges of the shoot and contrasts the experience with his follow-up effort My Name is Bruce (2007), a picture he shot in his backyard in Oregon.

Moving forward, there are tales of life as a leading man playing an aging Elvis Presley opposite the legendary Ossie Davis in the independent movie Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), and also of making smaller, supporting appearances in his old friend Sam Raimi’s blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy. He successfully balances a career in both cinematic worlds and compares and contrasts the working environments on set. In 2007, Campbell found success on television in the highly popular, long-running series Burn Notice. He reflects on his time during production living in Miami and adjusting to his surroundings. He also tells of the decision to travel to Iraq to support the troops. These military stories are at the heart of the book and he was clearly moved by the experience.

In 2013, Campbell, Raimi and Tapert reunited to produce the Hollywood remake of Evil Dead, a project that successfully gave the franchise new life and soon led to the creation of the television program Ash vs. Evil Dead (2015 – 2018), which found Campbell reprising his most popular role in a series of half-hour episodes that carry on the spirit of the films. Following the end of the series he retired the character of Ash and spent some time in Europe with his wife. The book concludes with a promise to continue acting, with an emphasis on age-appropriate material.

Hail to the Chin is a highly entertaining collection of war stories from a veteran B-movie actor who has learned a lot over the years and is eager to share his experiences. The book is a perfect counterpart to its predecessor and is a fast read. Fans will want to pick up this newly expanded “Requiem for Ash” edition that includes an additional sixty-some-odd pages of further experiences, including reflections on concluding the Evil Dead franchise that has been a part of his life for nearly four decades. Campbell has a lot of years left in his career and plenty of good stories to tell, so I look forward to volume three in the series.


Overall: 4.5 Star Rating Cover
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Buy from Amazon US

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Robert Gold
Staff Reviewer
Robert's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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