When you explained to distributors that you were making an “Elvis vs. the Mummy” picture, how hard was it to get the film released? ^ Basically it just confirmed my theory that if you don’t have a movie where you can take the lead character, put a gun in his hand, or have Mel Gibson staring pensively at the camera, these guys, they run for cover. They dive under their desk going “Oh my God! We have to think of something!”
How did you react when you learned you would be acting alongside the classiest man in the business, actor/civil rights figure Ossie Davis? ^ Oh, that we lucked out, because normally you don’t get lucky with casting. He is exactly who you need for a guy who is telling the audience that he’s JFK. You know, you believe him. When he tells you that he’s President Kennedy, you go “Okay…yeah. You are.” What’s funny is that Ossie actually knew him.
He knew JFK? ^ Yeah, that’s how far back he goes. He met Kennedy. He was great. It was a real treat, because the real professionals are easy to work with. It’s the hacks that are all the trouble.
What’s nice is that the critics have been on board with the movie. ^ They were good…We made some head way with the Roger Eberts of the world. He couldn’t believe he liked it. He was trying to hate it while he liked it, so it confused him, which is good…But what’s funny is the more high brow places. I’ve done about three NPR interviews for Bubba Ho-tep. I just did an interview with Corey Flintoff, and I thought “Why am I here with Corey Flintoff on NPR doing this thing for Bubba?”
Next on Masterpiece Theater: Bruce Campbell. ^ Exactly. It’ll be on American Movie Classics next. It kills me; Army of Darkness has been on AMC. The network is either going down the toilet, or it’s really cool, I can’t decide. But with Bubba, it was fun to be able to have a movie that is basically a Roger Corman concept, yet is playing in art houses almost exclusively.
Is it the movie itself, or do you think that the distinction between “independent” film and “low-budget” film is starting to break down? That’s always seemed like a fairly pointless, elitist distinction to me. ^ Don’t get me stared on this independent thing, because that is way too overused. I’m infuriated; I just got this director’s guild magazine. They show all of these directors on the cover and it says, “The independents!” What kills me is that one of the guys is Steven Soderbergh. You go, “Get out of here. Independent? Bite my a*s.” Let’s talk about “Ocean’s 12.” Is that independent? Are you crazy? The first thing you need to do is determine: what is an independent? An independent is a film that, when you make it, does not have a distributor. That’s the end of the story. Its okay, even, if it costs a few more bucks, as long as it’s independent. Let’s say it should cost under five million. It may not make your movie good, but it will make the movie different from your average film. And again, while Bubba Ho-tep may not set the world on fire, I think it’s a movie that you’re not going to see on an airplane, and sometimes that’s good. It’s a big-a*s country. There’s room for those weirdo, off-kilter movies. So Bubba, if nothing else, is an independent film.
What’s your weirdest experience with a fan? ^ I’ve been seeing a lot of tattoos and piercings. I’d sign a guy’s leg because he’ll be going to the parlor that night, and he’d have a shaved part of his leg right next to an “Evil Dead” tattoo. I now know the terminology. If a guy comes up with a lot of tattoos I’ll ask, “So, how many hours you got, buddy?” I’m getting to be real familiar with that crowd. I once saw a whole “Evil Dead” mosaic on a guy’s back, of all three movies. It was like a collage. The guy asked, “Does this bother you?” And I said, “Hell no, you’re a walking billboard. Go to the beach more often, my rentals will go up.”
Is it true that New Line Cinema is considering brining your Ash character into the next Freddy vs. Jason sequel? ^ There are rumblings about it. Just don’t underestimate how difficult it would be, getting three film franchises to agree to terms. And I ain’t doing it if I lose, I’ll put it that way. I could beat them for that one movie and then they can come back, I don’t care after that. I don’t want to kill the franchise, there’s just no point having Ash there if he loses. I mean, they can beat the s**t out of him, but he should still win.
Do you have any problem with Hollywood’s recent trend of doing big-budget remakes for classic low-budget horror films? ^ I do, because…come on, guys, wake up a little here. We had something like a fifty three percent increase in sequels last year and the box office returns were less than the year before.
So Hollywood is just getting lazy? ^ Oh, not getting. They’ve been lazy for 15 years now. They go (in a slow, zombie-like voice) “We need the Taco Bell tie in. We need the hit sound track.” And your casting is all hip, cool people. It just puts you to sleep. And the whole digital effects thing is out of control, which you could have predicted. Whenever a new toy is found, you play with it until you break it. So that’s kind of what Hollywood is doing, they’re strangling the digital thing until they break it.
It’s like the puppy that won’t drop the ball, it’s just obsessed with it. ^ Exactly. Or it’s the little baby who’s squeezing on the puppy, choking it. “Why isn’t the puppy moving, daddy?” Because you killed it, a*****e. Yeah, that’s what’s happening in Hollywood right now. They’re strangling the puppy. But it’s okay. There is a backlash to everything, and there is going to be a very healthy backlash, because obviously people are turning to these smaller, independent (movies). They are going, “Ah yes, a digital movie. I’ll just see this one over here instead.” It’s okay, it’s good. Hollywood has just compartmentalized itself without knowing it. They’ve put themselves into this kind of embarrassing sequel, derivative, comic book, 1970s bad Aaron Spelling TV show hell. I mean, I’m in hell right now. All the TV shows I hated as a kid in the 70s are now back in motion picture form, and shoved in my face! Charlie’s Angels 2! “Full Throttle!! What the f**k are you talking about, Jack? I basically don’t see movies between May and September. Starting in September it’s okay to come out again.