He's the star of a bunch of cult films, including the Evil Dead trilogy and its Starz TV spinoff, Ash vs. Evil, Dead as well as the long-running USA Network series Burn Notice. Campbell has also written three best-selling books about the film industry that started with his rise through the B-movie ranks. His most recent book is Hail to the Chin: Further Confessions of a B-Movie Actor.
So why is he also hosting a live trivia game show that includes a stop Friday at the Gas Monkey Garage?
"I gotta hang up the chainsaw sometime," Campbell said.
Campbell's Last Fan Standing pits an audience of fans against each other in a geek trivia competition with questions about sci-fi movies and comic books. The competition whittles down to the top four competitors, who compete on the stage with Campbell until one winner remains.
"We had a Marine who was a guy who was a huge fan, and he had no image of the fact that he'd ever get up there or ever do anything, and he took it all," Campbell said. "He was the last man standing, and of all the guys to get it, he was the perfect one, so sometimes things work out really good."
Campbell's game show has been a staple of fan conventions and is on the schedule for CONtv, but it started as a show for the troops at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. It worked out so well that Campbell decided to turn it into a touring show.
"All through the '60s, I wanted to be a game show host," Campbell said. "It's the perfect job. You get to wear silly outfits, and it's great to be the Wink Martindale. There's no blood, no stunts — just cracking jokes, visiting with people and making fun of their home state and small town, and that's what it's all about."
Meanwhile, Campbell also has a third season of Ash vs. Evil Dead premiering Sunday on Starz. This time, Campbell's D
Campbell says the new season will really test Ash's mettle and could push the hardware-weaponized hero closer to a conclusion.
"We are getting into more of the Joseph Campbell myth in season three," Campbell says. "Ash is a regular guy, but he's foretold in an ancient book. Why and what is his destiny? How does he fulfill it, and is he willing to do it? And the answer is not necessarily. Ash is having a big crisis of conscience this season, too. We finally push Ash
The first Evil Dead film, which launched the strange universe of Ashley Williams' adventures, is just a few years shy of its 40th anniversary. How will the series run meet such a milestone?
"We can go more if we need to, but at the end of season three, if that's where it ends, we've been very clever with our storytelling, and we're wrapping up some pretty big stuff," Campbell says. "So if we go beyond three seasons, we're ready, and if it doesn't, we're already ready."
Campbell just wants to make sure the fans are entertained and get to see Ash's full story.
"We don't want to screw the fans because I've been on a show that got canceled during the offseason, and it's a drag because the fans feel eternally dissed," he says. "So in that case, I'm not going to make that mistake. I'm going to make sure every season it's a nice little feast, and if there's more, then there's more."
As for the next chapter of Campbell's career, he says he wants to do more than just work for a new studio.
"Now it's time to be the studio," Campbell says. "I've worked for studios for years, and now is the time to be the studio and put the money together myself. I've had sort of an act mentality in that you take what you've learned from act one and act two and script a really good act three and only work on stuff you know what you want to work, and you're only working with the people you want to work with."
Campbell says he wants a strong third act for his career.
"It's a chance to really do it right, to finally do it right," he says. "So that's what I'm going to focus on, and none of it is big. It's all little, teeny stuff — little books and little movies but definitely more books. I just toured this past summer with my third book, and creatively, it's the way to go. So I'm going to do more of it."