When The Evil Dead was released in 1981, it helped launched the careers of star Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, but long before that club hit, the actor and star made a slew of short films with their high school friends Scott Spiegel and Bill Ward. These shorts were showcased with a new DVD set released in August called Super 8 Shorts, with a second volume just now being released. Along with 11 new short films, many of which have never been publicly released before, this set also features some of Bruce Campbell’s early TV commercials, including one you can see below for a Michigan radio station from 1984, three years after the first Evil Dead movie. Here’s a description of these DVD sets below, outlining some of the history behind these filmmakers.
“While many have seen the iconic horror movie The Evil Dead, and its sequels Evil Dead II & Army Of Darkness, fewer know is that its creators & friends had a legacy of Super-8 Short film making stretching all the way back to their childhood in the late ’60s. It’s Murder, Within The Woods and The Blind Waiter are among the most prominent examples, but there were nearly seventy shorts made from 1969 onwards. This first official DVD set was released in August 2017. It contains eleven of the earliest shorts made by both Bill & Scotty. It’s available in ‘Standard’ & ‘Deluxe’ versions. They’re both the same, although the ‘Deluxe’ set comes with four rather than two photos, and they’re signed by Bill & Scott. Our second official DVD presentation was released in October 2017. It contains eleven further shorts directed or co-directed by Scotty, along with some of Bruce Campbell’s early TV commercials, intercut with vintage 60’s, 70’s & 80’s intros, credits, trailers, adverts & promos picked by Scotty from his extensive VHS, 8, 16, & 35mm collection.”
The commercial below was released in 1984, with cult icon Bruce Campbell playing a mustached scientist, claiming that animals love hit music just as much as humans do. The proof of this hypothesis is that he’s surrounded by deadly snakes, although they’re kept at bay by the hit song “Karma Chameleon” by Boy George, from the Michigan radio station WHYT, which is, “the only station that plays all hits, all the time.” He continues to prove this theory more by turning to another station, which causes one snake to leap up, poised to strike, before turning the channel back. The commercial ends when, after warning viewers not to try this snake experiment with other stations, he drops the radio, forced to sing Karma Chameleon himself to keep the snakes at bay. Here’s a description of everything that comes with this latest DVD set.
“Here is a complete list of everything you get. It’s only available as a ‘Standard’ option, no signed ‘Deluxe’ version this time: Two dual layer DVDs containing the eleven shorts & extras, each with an optional commentary track from Scotty, stop-motion animated menus, and full color printed disc artwork.A black standard swing-tray double DVD case with color glossy DVD sleeve. A four page handmade vintage style booklet, with notes on each short from Scott. A random selection of four, from a total of thirteen 6″ x 4″, 5.5″ x 4″, and 4″ x 4″ replica photos from Scotty’s collection. The list of ‘featured’ items play in chronological order, and run at 142m 29s alone, but 227m 28s including all the vintage adverts, trailers, promos and such. All the shorts have an optional commentary track by Scotty, as does some (but not all) of the additional material. You can see the list of the ‘featured’ items, with dates & running times below.”
The featured items include Half-Wits-Holiday (1974, 10m 58s), All The Worlds A Stooge (1974, 6m 01s), No Dough Boys (1974, 11m 17s), The Singing Nutzs (1974, 7m 45s), I’ll Never Heil Again (1975, 19m 41s), The James Hoffa Story (1975, 12m 52s), James Bombed In ‘Here Today… Gun Tomorrow’ (1976, 17m 57s), The Ghoul – Ch.62 Show Segments (1978-1979, 11m 29s), Attack Of The Helping Hand! (1979, 4m 58s), Compilation Of Shorts Clips (1974-1979, 6m 57s), The Blind Waiter (1980, 15m 29s), Torro, Torro, Torro! – Scotty’s Edit (1981, 3m 28s), Cleveland Smith Bounty Hunter The Producer’s Cut (1982, 9m 09s), WHYT Radio Bruce Campbell Snake Commercial (1984, 0m 29s), WHYT Radio Bruce Campbell Puppies Commercial (1984, 0m 30s), Breakdancing Stooges (1984, 2m 50s) and WNIC Naturally Funny Bruce Campbell Commercial (1985, 0m 31s).
As you can see, most of these come just a few years before director Sam Raimi made The Evil Dead, with some of these commercials coming just before Evil Dead II, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary this year. Scott Spiegel had a small role as Fake Shemp in The Evil Dead and he went on to write Evil Dead II, which launched his screenwriting career. He would go on to write The Rookie starring Clint Eastwood, From Dusk Till Dawn II and the upcoming horror movie entitled Dark Ascension, which will be released next month. For fans interested in purchasing either of these DVD sets, you can only do so at their official website, Super8Shorts.com. Take a look at this hilarious commercial below featuring Bruce Campbell trying to sing “Karma Chameleon.”