MSU professor Bill Vincent and Rob Tapert
There are several nods to Michigan in the new "Evil Dead," from the Michigan State University sweatshirt worn by lead actress Jane Levy to a reference to Flint.
But the coolest tip of the hat to producers Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell's local roots may be the cameo by MSU professor Bill Vincent, the English professor of film studies who taught Raimi and Tapert during their Spartan college days.
Vincent traveled to New Zealand for one day of shooting on a creepy introductory scene that sets the stage for the reboot of the "Evil Dead" mayhem.
"You can see half of my face for a split second," he says from East Lansing.
Vincent was credited as a fake Shemp in "The Evil Dead," the 1981 original that launched the careers of Raimi, who left MSU to make the film, and Tapert.
Through the years, he has kept in contact off and on with Raimi and Tapert and become friends with Raimi's screenwriter brother, Ivan. He says one of the nice things about going to New Zealand was the chance to spend time with Tapert and his wife, actress Lucy Lawless.
A MSU film crew went along to New Zealand to document Vincent's experience. A sampling of that footage was shown at an advance screening of "Evil Dead" in East Lansing on March 21.
The new "Evil Dead" is produced by Raimi and Tapert (as well as Campbell), who always impressed their teacher with their talent.
"It's great to watch their careers," says Vincent. "I was pretty sure at the beginning they were going to be successful, because they had all the necessary attributes and made a pretty great partnership."