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B-movie stars
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June 7, 2001
By Franklin Harris

It's always good to have something to fall back on, especially if you're in a here-today-gone-tomorrow business like showbiz. And even more especially if you're in B-movies. Maybe that is why so many B-movie actors and actresses take up writing.

Jewel Shepard followed up roles in "Hollywood Hot Tubs 2" and "Caged Heat 2: Stripped of Freedom" with her autobiography, "If I'm So Famous, How Come Nobody's Ever Heard of Me?" And Debbie Rochon — star of such memorable flicks as "Santa Claws" and co-author of "The B-Movie Survival Guide" — is working on her own B-movie memoirs.

Bruce Campbell
Bruce Campbell
Now Bruce Campbell, the reigning king of cheesy horror flicks, is the latest to join the ranks of the B-movie literati.

You may have seen Campbell before, even if you don't recognize his name. He played Autolycus, the King of Thieves, on both "Xena: Warrior Princess" and "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys." He also starred in Fox's short-lived western/comedy series, "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr."

You can catch reruns of "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr." on TNT, where it has lasted far longer than it did on network television, prompting some of the show's fans to hope for a "Star Trek"-like resurrection.

But Campbell probably remains best known and loved for the trilogy of campy, low-budget horror films he made with his childhood pal Sam Raimi: "The Evil Dead," "The Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn" and "Army of Darkness."

The "Evil Dead" movies made Campbell a cult figure. Fans who want to know when he and Raimi are going to make "Evil Dead 4" constantly pester him. (Short answer: Don't hold your breath.) Now he writes about his experiences in "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor," due in bookstores this month.

In case you've never seen Campbell — or his action figure — he looks like a square-jawed, leading-man type, but he usually plays characters who are anything but. His characters are rogues and wisecrackers. Still, thanks to his rugged good looks, it's funnier when painful things happen to him than when they happen to people who look like comic relief. That is probably one reason for his cult following.

Describing his book, Campbell says, "This is not a memoir about what I said to so-and-so at the Beverly Hills Hotel. It's also not about an actor's 'meteoric' rise, or 'tragic' fall. Rather, this book is dedicated to the players on the second string, the 'B' people, if you will, and I cheerfully include myself in that lot."

I'd tell you more about the book, but all I know is what I read on Campbell's Web site, conveniently located at www.bruce-campbell.com.

Like Campbell, I'm a second-stringer, so I practically have to beg for review copies. (Or, in this case, order them online like everyone else.)

That said, you can sample Campbell's stuff at his Web site. There he holds forth on how to break into show business ("So, You Wanna Be A Filmmaker, Eh?") and other topics ("America The Fat").

As long as you are online, you can check out Jewel Shepard's Web site, www.bmoviebabe.com, and the Semi-Official Debbie Rochon Homepage, www.geocities.com/debbierochon.

And for even more B-movie fun, check out the official Web site of my mentor and role model, Joe Bob Briggs, the world's only drive-in movie critic, at www.joebob-briggs.com.

Of course, all this begs the question: If people who star in B-movies can write about B-movies, then can people who write about B-movies star in them?

Forrest J. Ackerman, who became a hero to deviants everywhere via his magazine, Famous Monsters of Filmland, has probably made more cameo movie appearances than anyone else in history, thanks to his having inspired an entire generation of filmmakers. Brad Linaweaver, whose in-depth essays usually appear in Cult Movies magazine, has done a few cameos I can recall. And so has Joe Bob.

So, if there are any movie producers reading this, you know where to find me. I work cheap. I might even work for a review copy.

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