By the time artist Michael Hussar was brought aboard to handle the poster, Universal’s ad campaign was picking up the pace. The movie sat on ice for half a year as producer Dino De Laurentiis and Universal went to battle over, of all things, Hannibal Lecter. Ahead of its ultimate release in January of 1993, the studio brought Bruce Campbell in to take reference headshots for the artwork. In Bill Warren’s “Evil Dead Companion” book, Campbell recalls:
“I had no idea what they were doing. I went into a studio, and they said, ‘We need a kind of sly look on your face.’ So I gave a whole series of stupid shots. Next thing you know, they show me a rough of this Frank Frazetta-like painting. ‘We’ve got to approve it in a day,’ they said, ‘and if you don’t approve it, we don’t have an ad campaign.’ So what were they telling me? Why did they submit it to me at all? It was frustrating because the lines of communication were not clearly drawn, and things got lost in the shuffle like crazy.”
“Once you get into the studios,” Campbell further observes, ‘they adopt the attitude of, ‘Thanks, kid. You did a nice movie. We’ll take it from here.'” He credits the producer for his steadfast involvement in the production; among other treasures, it led to a jacked-up Campbell sporting his trusty boomstick and muscles upon muscles in the “Conan the Barbarian”-inspired overseas poster.
The boomstick returns to fight the undead in the latest franchise installment; though Sam Raimi and Campbell’s involvement is relegated to executive producing credits under Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures label, Lee Cronin’s “Evil Dead Rise” promises to bring its own darkness (and buckets of blood) in April of 2023.