Cult Movie Essentials

My Name is Bruce (2008)

My Name Is Bruce is a cult movie classic starring the King of the B flicks, Bruce Campbell.  The film received a theatrical release in October 2008. Initially when I saw this film I wasn’t that enamored with it but it grew on me with repeated viewings. One of the main reasons why is the sheer joie de vivre that Campbell takes in portraying himself.

Produced by Dark Horse (yes, the comics), written by Mark Verheiden (the current Season 3 showrunner on Ash vs. Evil Dead) and directed by Bruce Campbell, this satirical work pokes fun at not only Campbell but his fans as well. This film takes on the whole political aspect of Hollywood such as you are only as good as your last picture as well as the obsessive nature of fandom.

The action takes place in the sleepy town of Gold Lick, Oregon. Fun fact- Gold Lick was actually constructed on Bruce Campbell’s property.  Of course, some teenagers decide to mess around in the old Chinese miners graveyard one night. They manage to awaken the protector of the dead, Guan Di by stealing his amulet from his final resting place. Annoyed at his ancient slumber being interrupted, the patron saint of bean curd takes his wrath out on three of the errant teens while the fourth one and the protagonist of this saga, Jeff (Taylor Sharpe) flees. Jeff just so happens to be Bruce Campbell’s number one fan. This warlord is now hell bent on destroying the town of Gold Lick and taking all the residents with it.

Meanwhile, Bruce Campbell, unaware of his future role in a real-life horror scenario is hard at work on his latest flick, Cave Alien. He is a hot mess. Divorced, alcoholic, his career in shambles, he is relegated to having to deal with fan boys who complain about his autographed pictures and ask him inane questions.

Lamenting his life and career choices, Campbell goes on an epic bender in his trailer after seeing a “Where Are They Now?” segment on Hollywood Tonight. What ensues is hysterical and all I can say is his call to his ex-wife played by Ellen Sandweiss (Cheryl of Evil Dead fame) is cringe worthy comedy at its best.

Enter Jeff who tries to convince Campbell to save the town of Gold Lick from certain destruction. Bruce isn’t buying any of the kid’s story and thinks he is just getting a lame pitch for yet another low budget horror flick. He slams the door in Jeff’s face. Minutes later after a bit of shtick worthy of Campbell’s beloved, Three Stooges, he ends up kidnapped by Jeff and thrown in the trunk of a car.

Upon arriving in the town, Campbell starts playing the role of the big-time movie star treating the townies like extras in “Deliverance” until he spies Jeff’s mother, Kelly played by Grace Thorsen.  In what can only be described as lust at first sight, Bruce decides to assume the role of the conquering hero to woo Kelly and also because he thinks his agent Mills (played with smarmy relish by the versatile Ted Raimi) has set the whole escapade up for his birthday.

Kelly is unimpressed with Campbell and his antics but feeling pressure from the Mayor to “play along” she finds herself reluctantly falling for the actor. Before they can seal their budding romance with a moonlight kiss, Bruce is whisked away to do battle with Guan Di.

The townsfolk and Campbell enter the graveyard and after some initial hi-jinx find themselves face to face with the ancient horror. Looking to Bruce for guidance, he “runs like cheap mascara” into the night and goes back to California.

When Campbell finds out that Jeff is going to take Guan Di on by himself, he summons up the courage and sets out to actually be the hero. With help from Jeff and Kelly, Bruce triumphs and vanquishes Guan Di into eternal slumber once more. The amulet is returned and normal life is restored in Gold Lick.

With a wink and a nod to the genre that Bruce Campbell made his name in, the actual ending to the film is very funny. All in all, My Name is Bruce is not an Academy Award winner but that is not its intention. It is pure entertainment for fans of horror movies, B movies and of course, Bruce Campbell.


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