Films presents a film written and directed by Don Coscarelli.
Based on the short story by Joe R. Lansdale. Running time:
92 minutes. Rated R (for language, some sexual content
and brief violent images). Starring
Campbell, Ossie Davis, Bob Ivy.
a film about Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) and a black John
F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) fighting a soul-sucking mummy (Bob
Ivy) in a rest home. It is also a supremely touching film
about growing older, dealing with mistakes we have made in
the past, and friendship. As surprising as that sounds, it
is absolutely true.
to popular belief, Elvis is not dead. The man found in that
bathroom stall, and the man in Elvis's grave, is an imposter.
Tired of the life of fame, Elvis swapped places with his best
impersonator. Performing at an "Elvis" tribute concert,
he tripped of the stage, broke his hip, fell into a coma,
and was placed in a Texas rest home. At this home, a mummy
Elvis dubs Bubba Ho-Tep is walking around the halls at night
and sucking the souls out of the elderly. Elvis teams up with
"JFK" to destroy the evil.
narrates Bubba Ho-Tep in a sad, nostalgic way that
actually turns out to be rather touching. He expresses regret
over neglecting his daughter and treating Priscilla poorly.
In one particularly memorable moment, Elvis realizes that
all the bad things in his life were not caused by others,
but by his own actions. A real effort is made to fully develop
Elvis into more than just the caricature one would expect
from this kind of movie. JFK is a little underdeveloped, undoubtedly
because of Bubba Ho-Tep's rather short running length,
but not egregiously so.
has been made about Bubba Ho-Tep's serious side, but
only because that's surprising considering the rest of the
film. At heart it is a bizarre comedy, an inevitable cult
classic. And it succeeds at comedy as well as any other film
this year; the wisecracks, one-liners, Elvis jokes, and numerous
other morsels of humor are hilarious almost without exception.
But the humor is also incisive and bitingly satiric, lampooning
horror movie conventions as it follows them.
Campbell gives one of the best male performances of the year
as Elvis. Giving what is perhaps the greatest impersonation
of the musician ever committed to film, Campbell also mixes
in a deeply felt pathos so that we really care about the character.
There is a bit of Ash, Campbell's Evil Dead hero too,
as he fights off the mummy with his walker. Ossie Davis, a
serious actor (not like Campbell), is obviously having a great
deal of fun, and his joy is infectious.
on a miniscule budget, Bubba Ho-Tep doesn't really
work as a horror film, but I don't think it's supposed to.
Instead it is an amazingly even film, effortlessly balancing
hilarious comedy and poignant drama into a cohesive whole.
The last moments of the film are hauntingly touching, matching
eighty percent of 2003's other releases for sheer power. Strange,
I know, but trust me on this - I felt a little choked up at
the end of the film, and I certainly didn't expect to, not
in a movie as odd (an understatement) this. Not only is Bubba
Ho-Tep one of the most surprising films of 2003, it's
also quite simply one of the best.
2003 Matt Noller