Bruce Campbell has encountered many oddities throughout his colorful profession, so he’s the proper alternative to hold the torch for “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.”
Best identified for the “Evil Dead” franchise and USA’s “Burn Notice” — to not point out his bestselling autobiography, “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor” — he is now internet hosting the most recent installment of “Ripley’s” (Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel).
“I thought ‘Ripley’s’ was a good fit for me because the people who follow what I do, they like stuff on the edge, and that’s what ‘Ripley’s’ is,” says Campbell, 60, on the telephone from his dwelling within the self-proclaimed “wilds of Oregon.”
The Ripley’s franchise is over a century previous and contains comedian books, a newspaper panel (which ran in The Post in 1923), museums (together with one in Times Square), radio reveals and several other TV sequences. ABC aired theirs within the 1980s. Fox had an animated present within the late 1990s, and Dean Cain hosted one on TBS (2000-2003).
“They’ve been around for 100 years, so everyone’s heard of them,” says Campbell. “In my formative years, there was always some form of Ripley’s book or publication [in the house]. I still have the red, cloth-bound Ripley’s book that I had in my living room. It had all these crazy illustrations of people doing amazing things.”
‘It’s not a freak present — we don’t use that phrase anymore — but we’re celebrating the extraordinary.’
Each episode begins with Campbell chatting with viewers from the Ripley warehouse in Orlando. Fla. He introduces filmed segments and the digicam cuts to the featured act. This season’s performers embrace a man who can throw taking part in playing cards at 92 miles per hour, a “human pretzel” who can contort himself to the purpose the place he can run upside-down and a California couple who takes their wedding ceremony vows on a skinny web dangerously suspended 800 toes within the air.
“It’s not a freak show — we don’t use that word anymore — but we’re celebrating the extraordinary. That’s our new word,” Campbell says. “The world is an enormous place and crazy stuff is happening every day. I’m just delighted to bring it back to people’s attention so they can kind of celebrate the amazing. It’s a very human-positive show.”
“Ripley’s” is not Campbell’s first internet hosting gig, but it’s probably the primary seen by the general public. Before he struck gold with the primary “Evil Dead” movie in 1981 at age 21, the actor hosted instructional movies that have been used to coach automotive salesmen in Detroit, the place he grew up.
“Funny thing is the stuff I did 35 years ago, you’ll never see,” he says. “So I’d actually had practice, but it’s been years. My career has gone sort of cyclical now.”
And whereas internet hosting a present is a departure from preventing zombies with a chainsaw-hand, “Ripley’s” stays in his B-movie wheelhouse, he says.
“In a way, I’m drawn to material like Ripley’s [that] could be considered B-television in that it’s not a classy costume drama or something like that. It’s still a guy pounding stuff into his forehead. But in the B-world, we try harder and we do more interesting stuff.”
And whilst you would possibly count on Campbell’s style to run towards the bizarre and the gory, that’s not fairly true. It seems he’s a fan of elegant costume dramas.
“It depends on what I’m working on but during ‘Ash vs. Evil Dead’ I survived by watching ‘Downton Abbey,’” he says. “I always counter watch. If you’re doing something that’s grim and bloody and gross, then give me something that’s prim and clean and proper.”