More than 35 years after breaking into the world of horror with his starring role in The Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell remains one of the most iconic personalities in the genre.
Campbell earned the role in director Sam Raimi's groundbreaking movie thanks to their longtime friendship, going on to reprise the Ash Williams character in two sequels, in addition to currently starring in the Starz series Ash vs. Evil Dead. Throughout his career, Campbell has starred in a variety of projects, from movies to TV shows, even going on to write about his experiences in the industry with two autobiographies.
Possibly the only thing more popular than any of the roles he's played has been the personality of Campbell himself, regularly appearing at conventions and Q&As around the country, sharing his sardonic wit and sarcasm to his legion of fans.
In honor of the month of October, Rotten Tomatoes tapped Campbell to ask him his five favorite horror movies, which resulted in some surprising answers. Scroll down to see his picks!
Long before the shared Dark Universe, the greatest Universal Monsters came together 70 years earlier, as Dracula, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster all collided with the comedic duo Abbott and Costello as a result of their bumbling antics.
"An early example of combining horror and comedy, which is a delicate balance," Campbell shared. "This is a fun, silly romp. Who says you can’t do slapstick with a monster? This movie is also an interesting example of early 'cross-pollination,' where a studio takes two popular movie personalities and puts them together."
The actor got to embrace those combinations of humor and horror with his slapstick antics in the Evil Dead trilogy, which continues in Ash vs. Evil Dead, in addition to his work as an elderly Elvis battling a mummy in Bubba Ho-Tep.
From filmmaker George Romero, Night of the Living Dead helped establish the modern concept of the "zombie," an undead ghoul who searched for human flesh to satiate their cravings.
"The granddaddy of them all. A landmark achievement in technical innovation, social awareness, and sheer terror," Campbell notes. "The handheld look so many filmmakers use today was very new in the ’60s, when visual styles were very 'locked down.' It was my first experience watching someone get disemboweled, and you don’t easily forget that."
In the years since Campbell has begun starring in horror movies, he would get the chance to maim and disembowel all manner of enemies, which he apparently all owes to what he learned with this 1968 zombie movie.
Based on William Peter Blatty's novel of the same name, The Exorcist is one of the few films in the realm of horror that was also acknowledged by the Academy Awards for its accomplishments, earning itself a handful of Oscar nominations.
Campbell confessed, "This flick is great because of its approach and tone. Director William Friedkin cast strong actors, giving entirely credible performances. Linda Blair is a revelation. What’s cool is how the characters in the flick treat possession like it’s a clinical disorder. The cherry on the cake was the groundbreaking special effects makeup by master Dick Smith."
Over 40 years later, the core concept of The Exorcist is so effective that there is currently a TV series airing on FOX that continues the timeline that started with the original film.
The name alone is enough to evoke fear into the hearts of many, Texas Chain Saw Massacre chronicled a descent into pure madness when a group of travelers encountered the sadistic Sawyer family, including the chainsaw-wielding son who sewed masks out of human faces.
"The opening scene was almost enough to make me not watch the rest of it," Campbell admitted. "Images of illegally exhumed
The film has a reputation for being incredibly gruesome, but director Tobe Hooper at one point tried to get the film a PG rating due to how little blood actually appeared on
Much like The Exorcist 20 years earlier, The Sixth Sense was able to shake loose the stigmas of a "horror" movie to prove its worth at the Academy Awards, earning itself a slew of nominations.
"This movie proves that horror can also be cerebral," Campbell explained. "You know a film is good if it messes with your mind, and this one does a great job of it. It’s virtually bloodless, which is also unique in horror, and the twist ending, for me, is easily top five."
Interestingly, out of all of the movies Campbell listed, this is the only one that didn't earn itself a sequel, as if the power of the original installment was so strong, even attempting to capture that magic a second time would be too impossible a feat.