Being a horror fan is practically synonymous with being a fan of Bruce Campbell - the star of some of the best horror movies of all time and even a few creepy TV shows as well. Of course, the actor behind the Evil Dead movies’ hero, Ash Williams, has had a versatile career outside of mowing down Deadites with his chainsaw for a right hand.
We will point out many of those notable highlights in the following list of our picks for the best Bruce Campbell movies and TV shows available on streaming, digital rental, or for purchase on physical media. However, it's only fair that we begin with films that made Campbell one of the “grooviest” stars in cinematic history.
The Evil Dead Movies (1981-1992)
A supermarket employee (Bruce Campbell) must defend himself and others against malevolent, possessive spirits in a secluded log cabin - and, later, in the Middle Ages - after accidentally awakening them with a book bound in human flesh and inked in human blood.
Why they are some of the best Bruce Campbell movies: Writer and director Sam Raimi created one of the best horror movie franchises (if not the best) with 1981’s relentlessly grueling low-budget masterpiece The Evil Dead. He then perfected the horror-comedy with Evil Dead 2 in 1987, and surprised audiences with a cartoonish take on the medieval adventure genre in 1992’s Army of Darkness - all of which star Bruce Campbell as the quippy, bumbling demon-killer, Ashley J. “Ash” Williams.
Ash Vs. Evil Dead (2015-2018)
A middle-aged, underachieving Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell) teams up with his co-workers, Pablo (Ray Santiago) and Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo), to save the world after he accidentally awakens those malevolent, possessive Deadites once again.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell TV shows: The adventures of Ash Williams finally continued when Bruce Campbell led the Ash vs. Evil Dead cast as his best-known character, one last time, before retiring him once Starz cancelled the series after three bloody-good seasons in 2018.
Maniac Cop (1988)
An aging, hard-nosed detective (Tom Atkins) teams up with a disgraced, younger officer (Bruce Campbell) to stop the brutal killing spree of a murderer dressed in a police uniform in New York City.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: One of Bruce Campbell’s biggest roles in the ’80s outside of the Evil Dead franchise was as one of the heroes of Maniac Cop - a fun and surprisingly smart hybrid of slasher movies and detective dramas that see Campbell share the screen with another iconic horror movie actor, Tom Atkins.
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Years after switching identities with one of his impersonators to escape the pressures of fame, Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and a Black man who claims to be the real John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) team-up to stop an evil Egyptian mummy from claiming the souls of fellow residents at their nursing home in Texas.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: One of Bruce Campbell’s most celebrated roles in his entire career outside of the Evil Dead franchise was as the real elderly King of Rock ’n Roll himself in Bubba Ho-Tep - a wonderfully absurd horror-comedy written for screen and helmed by Phantasm and John Dies at the End director Don Coscarelli.
The Adventures Of Brisco County, Jr. (1993-1994)
A bounty hunter (Bruce Campbell) travels through the Old West in search of the outlaw gang that killed his father, and comes into possession of strange, futuristic objects that help him out of sticky situations along the way.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell TV shows: Bruce Campbell’s first lead role on a TV show, years before Ash vs. Evil Dead, was as the titular hero of the prematurely and unfairly cancelled The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. - a unique hybrid of an old school western with broad comedy and bizarre sci-fi surrealism from co-creators Jeffrey Boam and Carlton Cuse.
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Movies (2002-2007)
After a radioactive spider’s bite gives him extraordinary abilities, a young New Yorker (Tobey Maguire) accepts the great responsibility of protecting the city from evil, all while struggling to maintain a social life and a career in the process.
Why they are some of the best Bruce Campbell movies: Director Sam Raimi cast his good friend, Evil Dead trilogy star Bruce Campbell, in all three of his Spider-Man movies, in which he made a hilarious cameo as a different character (from an amateur wrestling announcer in the first film to a French maitre d’ in the third) each time.
Sky High (2005)
In a world almost entirely populated by super-powered beings, a young man (Michael Angarano) struggles to fit in during his freshman year of high school, despite not having any powers of his own…yet.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: One of Bruce Campbell’s most notable contributions to superhero movies outside of the Spider-Man trilogy (so far) is his role as the very selective Coach Boomer (a.k.a. Sonic Boom) in Sky High - an inventive, family-friendly take on the genre with hearty messages about about heroism.
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
As part of stock market scam, an unwitting business school graduate (Tim Robbins) is promoted from mail room attendant to president of a big manufacturing company.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: Bruce Campbell is also good friends with Oscar-winning directorial duo Joel and Ethan Coen (the latter of whom actually worked as an assistant film editor on The Evil Dead) who would cast the actor as a fast-talking newspaper reporter in The Hudsucker Proxy - a fast-paced screwball comedy that feels ripped right from the 1930s, which Sam Raimi also helped write and served as a second unit director for.
The Ant Bully (2006)
A young boy who takes his frustrations out on a colony of ants is magically shrunken down to their size and forced to live and work among them.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: Bruce Campbell has leant his distinct, bold voice to a number of memorable animated roles, such as a smug and appropriately large-chinned ant named Fugax in The Ant Bully - a charming fish-out-of-water story from the director of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, John A. Davis.
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs (2009)
Hoping to finally earn the respect he has craved from his family and peers, an aspiring inventor (Bill Hader) creates a device that makes food fall from the sky, which means great news for his financially starving town before disaster inevitably strikes.
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell movies: Another notable voice role on Bruce Campbell’s resume is the also smug and large-chinned Mayor Shebourne in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - a hilarious adaptation of Judi Barrett’s classic children’s book from writing and directing duo Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
Burn Notice (2007-2013)
After his employment is suddenly terminated and he is forcibly relocated to Miami, an international spy (Jeffrey Donovan) takes up a job as a private investigator with the help of his ex-girlfriend (Gabrielle Anwar), a former military intelligence operative (Bruce Campbell), and, occasionally, his mother (Sharon Gless).
Why it is one of the best Bruce Campbell TV shows: Bruce Campbell’s big return to television in the 21st Century before the premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead was the scene-stealing role of Sam Axe on Burn Notice - an Emmy-nominated hit USA Network original that makes espionage look fun and actually quite doable with the right materials.
As previously mentioned, Bruce Campbell has retired from playing Ash Williams onscreen, but will voice him in the upcoming Evil Dead video game in 2022 - the same year that HBO Max will premiere Evil Dead Rise, which Campbell produced with Sam Raimi. The actor could also be seen most recently playing the manager of a toy store overridden by mutant shoppers in the horror-comedy, Black Friday, and played a musician turned music manager in the Hallmark Christmas movie called One December Night.
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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