Now, then. Bend me over a barrel of rum and call me Mary, if this isn't an exciting picture. I'm doing a passable impression of Napoleon right next to, for those who don't know, one of the foremost horror icons of our time. This is Mr Bruce Campbell - best known as the star of the Evil Dead movies, as well as the well-received Bubba Ho-Tep and a whole splendid slew of low-budgeters like Maniac Cop, Maniac Cop 2, The Man With The Screaming Brain and Alien Apocalypse. He also stars in the successful US TV show Burn Notice, which is currently taking up much of his time.
The occasion, last night, was the London press launch of his latest film My Name Is Bruce. Campbell directed and produced it in his home state of Oregon. If you've heard about Jean-Claude Van Damme's new meta-movie JCVD, then you might be forgiven for thinking they're similar. And they are, in the sense that each movie sees each star appearing as themselves and facing 'real-life' danger. Here's the difference: whereas My Name Is Bruce employs fun and humour, JCVD employs self-indulgence and tedium (disclaimer: a fair number of people seem to have enjoyed the wretched JCVD, so as always this is subjective. Your statutory rights are a mystery).
Campbell plays an Extras-style distorted version of the real Bruce, being a washed-up, womanising alcoholic Z-movie star who lives in a caravan while making Cave Alien 2. The local town of Gold Lick finds its meagre population dwindling further when an evil Chinese spirit (looking for all the world like a live-action Scooby Doo monster) starts chopping off hands, heads and generally reducing people's quality of life. The folk of Gold Lick misguidedly recruit Campbell to sort it all out, believing him to be a genuine monster-masher. He goes along with it all, thinking it's all a big hoot... then finds himself facing the homicidal, oriental fiend. Or as he memorably describes it as one point, "the one-ton wun-tun".
Despite ladling on some knockabout gore, it's a seriously funny piece of work, with a script (by Battlestar Galactica/Smallville's Mark Verheiden) ripping the piss out of Campbell, the fans, Hollywood and indie films. All affectionately, of course, as Campbell's love of the cheesy Z-flick comes plainly shining through. Fun, fun, fun. It also features some nice cameos from Evil Dead alumni, including Sam Raimi's brother Ted and Ellen Sandweiss.
Unsurprisingly, given Campbell's legendarily laidback and friendly nature, he turned out to be a pretension-free zone in person, chatting away, being funny and even giving me a pointer as to where to send one of my feature scripts. He told me that My Name Is Bruce took two years to make - in between shoots, he would go off and do other things. "Here's my rule of thumb," he said. "If you have a set release date on a film, then you ain't indie."
My Name Is Bruce gets a limited UK theatrical run from February 13. A loaded two-disc DVD setthen emerges through Anchor Bay Entertainment UK on March 2.