When most high schoolers were getting drunk, buddies Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were making cheap Super 8 movies. After about 50 goofy war spoofs, mysteries and screwball comedies, the duo eventually raised $350,000 to do a little number known as Evil Dead, the cult classic that launched their careers. In Houston, as part of Creation Entertainment's Salute to Star Trek, Sci-fi and Xena, Bruce Campbell (The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Autolycus in Hercules) and Sam's brother, Ted (Joxer on Xena), will present a special "cabaret show," in which they re-create some of the slapstick routines from those home movies of yore.
"It will be a low-budget vaudevillian sort of event, with an emphasis on the low-budget," says Campbell, whose credits place him squarely in the exclusive Adam West/William Shatner club of camp favorites. Raimi will play the amazing Spin-Garlic from India who, aside from cracking jokes and wearing dumb outfits, will guess the items inside select audience members' handbags. "Ted and I are going to wing it -- I mean, we'll be very, very polished."
While still an apprentice in Michigan, Campbell was able to coax comedian Tom Smothers into watching a few of his home films. "He came over and fired up a big fat joint and laughed his ass off," recalls Campbell, who wasn't into drugs. "We were like, 'Oh, my God, he's smoking dope." Campbell did try reefer later, when Raimi wanted a little authenticity for the pot-smoking scene in Evil Dead. "I had never smoked it before, so I was sent on another planet, and the footage was unusable. None of the actors could follow directions." He tried again, but someone forgot to stick film in the camera.
As for Raimi and Campbell's act, it's still a work in progress. Campbell does warn that people should not bring anything in their purses they don't want displayed in front of 300 people. "They should know they're going to be tormented if they come," he says. "They pay you to torment them. That's the rule of entertainment."
Hey, wasn't that the secret to Evil Dead's success?
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Creation Entertainment's Salute to Star Trek, Sci-fi and Xena will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 8 and 9, noon to 6 p.m. $17; $20 at the door; $10 for children ages six to 12. Bruce Campbell will appear on Saturday; Ted Raimi, Tim Russ and Grace Lee Whitney on Sunday. The cabaret show will be at 9 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $20, $50 for "gold-level" seating. Radisson Hotel, 9100 Gulf Freeway. For more information, call (713)629-3700.