About a month ago, I was asked by Steve Villeneuve—organizer of the Montreal HorrorFest—to help him out with a documentary he and his team had been working on for over a year. The documentary, Hail to the Deadites, focused on the fans of the Evil Dead franchise, which includes Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness, and, to a disputable degree, the 2013 Evil Dead remake.
The crew was headed to the Chicago Wizard World Comic Convention, which included the Bruce Campbell HorrorFest. They planned to meet with a trio of Evil Dead fans flying in from Europe, to reconnect with cast members present for the convention and, if at all possible, land an interview with Ted Raimi and—the Big Fish—Bruce Campbell, star of all three original films.
Steve first asked me to review the request letter they’d be sending Bruce’s way, then asked if I’d like to join them, given that my English was better than theirs and I’d be best positioned to interview Bruce, if it came to that.
Of course, I readily accepted.
What follows is a day-by-day, blow-by-blow recounting of that four-day weekend.
Day One: Thursday – CHICAGO IS FAR
To save money, the plan was to drive. From Montreal to Chicago.
It took fifteen hours, total.
So, after work, the three of us—Steve, Martin and I—piled into Steve’s car at 8PM on the Thursday and drove. All night.
Day Two: Friday – “GUYS, GET OVER HERE, NOW! BRUCE IS KILLING ZOMBIES!”
After passing through a post-apocalyptic near future that was, it seems, part of Michigan and included no other visible living people save ourselves, we finally made it to the Rosemont Convention Center and our hotel by 10AM, Friday.
Though exhausted, we resolved to head straight to the Con. We skipped the main floor and took the escalators to the HorrorFest, located on its own floor. The space was largely taken up by recreations of Evil Dead sets and a couple haunted house-style attractions, including the Basement of the Dead, which appeared to present patrons with the opportunity to shoot actors dressed as zombies, laser-tag-style.
We met with the three Super Fans, John, Michael and Emanuel, all the way from London, Wales and Italy, respectively.
Martin, our photographer and camera man, suggested we get the interviews with the three fans done immediately.
We hadn’t brought any gear to the con, so Steve and Martin decided to head back to the hotel room and grab a camera and mic. I waited, people-watching.
Minutes after the guys had left, I heard a commotion by the Basement of the Dead. A man in a sky-blue suit stood by the entrance to the attraction.
He was given a gun and, with weapon in hand and white loafers on his feet, he plunged into the Basement of the Dead. The man who’d made a name for himself killing zombies onscreen was now killing zombies in a makeshift haunted house—and did I mention he was wearing a goddamn sky-blue suit?
The clack-clack-clack of his gun firing exploded from within the Basement.
I had no camera. I texted Steve: “Guys, get over here, now!”
Moments later, Bruce emerged from behind the attraction, having evidently escaped the Basement of the Dead through an exit of his own making.
He handed back the gun, took a few moments to shake hands, and was gone.
The guys arrived and I told them what they’d missed.
“You’re kidding,” Martin breathed.
We shot the interviews with John, Michael and Emanuel, which turned out great. Things were going as planned with the three fans, but an interview with Bruce seemed farther from reality than ever.