on October 21, 2003
Yes, I love this film dearly.
Yes, it's [very] funny.
Yes, it's probably one of the best films I have ever seen...and not just of the year but one of the best films of all-times.
"Bubba Ho-Tep" is a joy to watch, not because of the ludicrous premise and the silly situations, but because of the acceptance of the ludicrous premise and silly situations.
And the feeling that (except for the mummy bit) this may all be true.
Bruce Campbell (of the "Evil Dead" series of movies) gives the performance of his LIFE as Elvis Presley...an Elvis Presley who did NOT die. Instead, Elvis resides in a Texas resthome, waiting for death to take him out. His glory days are forever behind him and he's in a state of depression after watching his roommate kick the bucket next to him.
Time passes slowly and so do his days and it makes him even more sick knowing that he can feel his demise coming.
It's wrongheaded for most critics to overlook the metaphor in "Bubba Ho-Tep". Director Don Coscarelli ("Phantasm") cleverly adapts the story (from author Joe R. Lansdale's short story) and successfully brings the concept to life. You believe that Bruce Campbell is Elvis because he plays Presley with such heart and dignity that any Elvis fan will want "Ho-Tep" in their movie collection when it hits the video-shelves. Ossie Davis gives a warm-hearted performance as "Jack" AKA JFK. He's so sweet and lovable and you want him on your side because he's noble.
And that's the brilliance of this movie: Campbell and Davis plays their rolls with a straight face. You believe that THEY believe they are who they say they are. It's deadpan comedy at its finest. It just better illustrates that this is a movie about growing old and confronting regret and fear before your time is up. Dress it up and make it dance but that's still what's at the core of the film and you can't deny it.
As writer Stephen King once said, "We're all gonna die someday, baby. I'm just trying to make it interesting."
I loved it.
on February 9, 2004
"We couldn't tell them the truth. That Elvis and JFK were chasing an Egyptian mummy that was wearing cowboy duds.... We didn't want them to think we were crazy..."
What can you say about a movie that has an aged, impotent Elvis in an east Texas rest home recuperating from a broken hip, a black man who could very well be JFK, and an ancient Egyptian mummy using the home as a feeding ground?
How 'bout: It's one of the best movies of the year.
With such outrageous elements, (it's based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale), this could easily be a grade B forgettable flick. Instead, we have an entertaining, bittersweet meditation on life, on aging, and on death. Director Don Coscarelli, (of Phantasm fame), hits the right blend of horror, drama and comedy. The intentional comedic moments work beautifully; the audience laughs at all the right places. The 'make you jump' moments work without resorting to gore. It elicits sympathy and empathy for the characters, and manages to be thoroughly convincing. No easy feat given the subject matter - it simply *works*.
Bruce Campbell, (of Evil Dead fame), shines as Elvis. It seems in the early `70s Elvis grew tired of the fame and fortune and swapped places with an impersonator - then made a modest living impersonating himself. Until he took a tumble from a stage, breaking his pelvis, ending up in the rest home. He's lost all proof of who he really is and most everyone thinks he is a little 'confused'. The only person who believes him is a black man, (Ossie Davis of The Stand), who claims to be JFK. ("They dyed me this color!") Through a believable plot device, a mummy shows up and starts sucking the 'small' souls of the rest home residents.
Only the walker assisted Elvis and wheelchair riding JFK figure out what is happening. Their hunt for the mummy acts as the backdrop as we watch the aged Elvis start to live again. He now has a meaning in his life, a mission. A chance to redeem himself. To perhaps actually be the hero he played in all those B movies. To 'take care of business' one more time...
Thank you... thank you very much...
on May 29, 2004
In the tradition of the "Evil Dead" movies, Bruce Campbell is back in true form in this horror/comedy/drama flick that's a roaring good time. You just don't know what to expect next once you start this bad boy. Filled with laughs, horror and surprisingly, heart, "Bubba Ho-Tep" is everything you'd want from a B-Movie and more.
Campbell stars as an elderly Elvis who lives in a Texas retirement home. People keep thinking he's just an impersonator off his rocker, but in reality he had traded places with an "Elvis" impersonator so he could get away from all of the fame and hardships of a rock-n-roll star. However, something strange has been happening in this retirement home. Folks are dying mysteriously every night without any clear explanation. As it turns out, an Egyptian mummy is the cause for the deaths and it needs to feed on their souls to stay alive. It's up to Elvis and his buddy, JFK, to take on this monstrous foe before it slaughters every living person in the retirement home. The end results are unpredictable and off-the-wall.
The premise alone intrigued me to see it. That, and Bruce Campbell. I'm always in the mood to see a good funny horror movie, and this movie did a great job of fulfilling that need. Not one minute went by where I was bored or disappointed. While the story may be over-the-top, it's done in such a creative and clever way. The movie has fun with itself and it's very easy to see. Bruce Campbell does a marvelous job as "Elvis," and let's not forget the great Ossie Davis as the one and only "JFK." The movie combines elements of comedy, drama and horror. It doesn't know what it wants to be at times, but the cast knew that from the get-go and they even goof on that fact (watch the featurettes and listen to the commentary).
The DVD has some outstanding features. The movie sounds and looks really good for a flick that was done under such a low budget. The commentary tracks are definitely worth you time, and you MUST listen to the commentary track where Bruce Campbell does it as "The King" and stays in character the entire time. It is the funniest thing I have ever heard. Other extras include featurettes, a music video, deleted scenes, the original trailer and more. All of this makes one heck of a great package.
"Bubba Ho-Tep" is a great time from Campbell and company. Any fans of the "Evil Dead" movies will definitely want to put this on their list. Just keep in mind that this is a movie that you watch to be entertained and nothing more. This movie was pure enjoyment from beginning to end. It's bound to become a classic sooner or later. The King still lives, Baby! -Michael Crane
on August 9, 2004
I read about Bubba Ho-Tep in a magazine review which, naturally, highlighted Bruce Campbell's spot-on Elvis. The review did not prepare me for the mix of emotions evoked by this odd and even sweet film. Imagine Elvis and JFK living in a tired old-folks home in West Texas. Now imagine a cowboy-booted mummy who's made the home his personal feeding ground. If you can do that, you've got the odd part down. The pathos that comes from setting, from the failing health of its heroes, not to mention the sense of loss so well portrayed by Campbell....lost relationships, lost chances, lost life....makes for some very sweet, but never maudlin, moments. Of course it wouldn't be a movie about old folks if there weren't a bit of crankiness. Again, Campbell comes through with some very funny takes on an old man's obsession with bodily functions. Finally the movie is surprisingly moving. The real enemy is death, and the only thing worse than death is a wasted life. Elvis is given one last chance to end well.
One could watch Bubba Ho-Tep and see only a self-conscious B grade horror flick. I suspect that approaching the film with such expectations could lead to disappointment. There are better made, more expensively produced such films to choose from.
But if one watches Bubba Ho-Tep with a bit more care, one may find instead an odd, sweet, sour and wierdly moving meditation on aging, death and (yes) the meaning of life.
Don Coscarelli, as much as I love the "Phantasm" series, hasn't offered us much more than those films over the last thirty years or so. Come to think of it, Coscarelli took his sweet time bringing us the few sequels to the first "Phantasm." Doubtless he had problems securing financing, always a serious problem for an independent filmmaker operating outside the secure bubble that is the studio system. Now that I think of it, I know for a fact he has serious problems raising money--his long promised "Phantasm 5" has been languishing in development limbo for what feels like an eternity. While those of us who adore the Tall Man, Reggie, and Mike wait for the conclusion to a wonderful ride, we can content ourselves with the amazing low budget film that is "Bubba Ho-Tep." The hype concerning this project reached levels of hysteria on various Internet sites the likes of which I haven't seen since...well, ever actually. Cult film fans went nuts over "Bubba Ho-Tep" before a single frame went before the public eye. It's not difficult to understand why: Coscarelli directing, genre favorite Bruce Campbell starring, and the plot provided by eclectic writer Joe R. Lansdale.
"Bubba Ho-Tep" lives up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Imagine if you will a story involving an aging, far from deceased Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) pairing up with a black guy who thinks he is President John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) in order to fight an evil, soul sucking Egyptian mummy who preys on the elderly residents of a Texas retirement home. Wow. That's a plot that only someone who took the brown blotter at Woodstock could come up with, right? Not when Joe Lansdale is at the helm. I've only read two of his books to date, "Sunset and Sawdust" and "A Fine Dark Line," neither of which had anything to do with horror, Elvis Presley, or mummies. But the oddball characters and situations in those two stories did hint at a writer willing to take a few chances with tried and true formulas. From what I've gleaned over the last year or so, "Bubba Ho-Tep" isn't Lansdale's weirdest story. He apparently wrote several short stories and novels consisting of historical figures in unlikely alliances embarking on some strange quest. One of the great extras on this DVD version of the film is hearing Lansdale read the first chapter of "Bubba Ho-Tep" while storyboards of Elvis lying in bed pass by on the screen.
Speaking of Elvis in bed, the film begins with a despondent and supine Presley wistfully recounting the ups and downs of his life as the threat of cancer rears its ugly head. We discover exactly how the King ended up in a retirement home instead of a grave in the late 1970s; Presley, weary of fame and his life on the road, switched identities with an impersonator. This fake Elvis was the one who passed away from excesses while the real Elvis cranked out the hits at county fairs and other small venues. It was during one of these performances that he fell off the stage and broke his hip, an injury that kicked off his long, slow decline into infirmity and old age. Of course, no one in the retirement home buys for a second that he's the real deal, and no one really cares about him. He's just another old guy with no one coming to visit him. Then the home's death rate soars thanks to the arrival of the mummy, and it isn't too long before Elvis teams up with the aforementioned wheelchair bound President Kennedy to battle this ancient evil. Bubba Ho-Tep is a scary chap; a desiccated, shuffling creature sporting boots, a cowboy hat, and a face that could birth a thousand screams. As Presley and Kennedy form their alliance, they slowly come back to lives filled with purpose and meaning. They also come to an understanding about their mortality and each other.
"Bubba Ho-Tep" isn't so much a horror film as it is a comedy of epic proportions. How can anyone watch a film that features Elvis battling a mummy with a walker without laughing? Or fail to chuckle about the great bit of dialogue between Elvis and Kennedy as they mull over the possible meanings of some hieroglyphic graffiti scrawled on a bathroom stall by the mummy? Coscarelli's film is so hilarious that I often set in open-mouthed wonder at the shenanigans unfolding onscreen, too overwhelmed by the plot's cleverness to laugh until later. I'm going to go out on a limb here by saying that the film's greatest strength, at least for me, is how Campbell and Davis made the whole thing so darn believable. Did anyone else experience this phenomenon? I had to laugh at myself for so totally buying into such a metaphysically bizarre storyline. The government covering up the JFK assassination by dyeing the president black, putting a bag of sand in his head, and depositing him in a retirement home? Sure, I'll buy that. The movie makes you believe in a way few fantasy films do.
The amount of extras on the disc take forever to wade through, but is well worth the effort. The commentary track with Coscarelli and Campbell is great, but even better are the audio comments from Campbell in his Elvis character. We hear the King snacking away on chips while he takes the film to task for its strong language and violence. The featurettes are wonderful, describing as they do the special effects in the film, the costumes and makeup, and the awesome musical score. Whether Coscarelli ever makes "Phantasm 5" is open to debate, but he's definitely back in the game with this masterpiece. "Bubba Ho-Tep" is one of the best films I've seen in the last couple of years.
on January 29, 2004
Synopsis : Opening in a rest home in Texas, we come to learn the "true" story of what happened to Elvis Presley. During his stay he also meets up with John F. Kennedy and they join forces to battle an evil Egyptian Soul Sucker named Bubba Ho Tep who preys on the souls of the other residents of Mud Creek Rest Home.
Plot : An absolutely hilarious and well thought out story. America's obsession on whether Elvis is dead, this movie should be shown everywhere!!! Great storytelling, well acted and just an overall good time with this movie!
Cast/Characters : How can you go wrong with Bruce Campbell? You can't!!! He brings his style of humor to the screen once again and we get to see other familiar faces like Ozzie Davis and Reggie Banister. Campbell's presentation of Elvis was hilarious, this was definitely a role he was meant to play!
F/X : Effects were mainly limited to just the presentation of "The Mummy" and it was a job well done. If this creature had appeared in a more haunting type horror movie it would definitely be spooky-goodness! F/X team did a wonderful job.
Jekyll's Final Thoughts : Hail to the King baby! What a truly amazing and fun movie. Humor was top notch and Campbell was in the zone! This is a must see for any fan of his and just a good ole campy type horror movie. Run, don't walk...find this movie to watch! You won't regret it. 5 star rating!! [...]
OK, I'm one of those suckers. I think Bruce Campbell is a God! I don't find him to be the most talented actor, but he sure is a PERSONALITY. And his deadpan delivery elevates even the most mundane of material. Of course, everyone has seen the "Evil Dead" films--but any Bruce Campbell fan who does not own and cherish the short-lived series "The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr." should be punished severely!
Now that I've put my heart out there, let's talk "Bubba Ho-Tep". I'm not at all surprised that the film is as divisive as it seems to be. The concept, the conceit is brilliance! Casting Campbell as a senior Elvis in a retirement home battling a mummy--who wouldn't be in love with the idea of this movie? I could, and have, watched Campbell in anything. And I was genuinely amused by this film--although not blown away. Do I think this is a great movie? Absolutely not. But I know many people, including myself, who are proud to own this DVD.
To be completely objective, however, I have to warn viewers to know what they are getting into. This is neither a true horror film nor a laugh-out-loud comedy. It's one of those bizarre hybrids. You'll watch in amazement as the silliest of plots unfold and you'll either go with it or not. I believe people who love this film support the originality of its plot and the gusto of its performances. And I believe detractors of the film have an equally valid point--it simply isn't as funny as you might hope.
For me, the film is about 3 1/2 stars--but Bruce always get an upgrade from me, so let's call it 4. Heck, Campbell's commentary track as Elvis is probably strange enough to warrant 5 stars--but I'll restrain myself for the sake of objectivity. KGHarris, 10/06.
on March 31, 2004
About two-and-a-half, three years ago I went to a special "Bruce Campbell Event" at the original downtown Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, TX. This was ostensibly a book signing for "If Chins Could Kill", but it was a bit more than that: there was a screening of "Evil Dead 2", preceded by a viewing of the then-unreleased "Fanalysis" documentary and a unique Q&A session, during the latter of which a drunk redneck stumbled onstage and attempted to duplicate Bruce's famous "grab hair and flip" move from the scene in Evil Dead 2 where his hand gets possessed (the redneck made it through the flip, but the landing must have shaken up some Chinaman's bowl of rice as hard as it was).
This was the first I'd heard anything of "Bubba Ho-Tep", but it sounded right up my alley. Fast forward to late last year, when "Bubba Ho-Tep" was finally released to select theaters. On at last getting a chance to see this flick, it turned out to be at last something both meeting my expectations and far exceeding them.
The plot is probably well known to all Bruce fans by now, but here's the short version: Bruce is Elvis - the REAL Elvis - who switched places with an impersonator back in his heyday when he got tired of the limelight. The impersonator OD'ed, as we all know, and the real Elvis/fake impersonator broke his hip falling off stage and ended up in a nursing home. There he meets Ossie Davis, a black man who insists he's JFK, and together they fight off an Egyptian Soulsucker before he has the chance to rip the souls from their arses (couldn't make this up if I tried).
The plot is as silly as it sounds, but there is a certain pathos to the movie, a wistful longing for youth and the rueful woes an elderly man forced to rely on others must handle on a day-to-day basis, that elevates this film above it's b-movie aspirations. I certainly didn't anticipate walking into this movie expecting any actual insight into the plight of the geriatric set, but "Bubba Ho-Tep" (largely due to the quality of the source material by Joe R. Lansdale) transcends it's genre trappings and comes out a winner. I especially liked the attention to detail concerning the past lives of Elvis and JFK; there are discreet references to peanut butter and banana sandwiches, as well as less discreet displays of martial arts (Elvis did achieve a black belt in real life, and was so into karate at one point that he insisted most of his entourage join him in lessons as well). The characters act as though you'd expect people with the pasts of Elvis and JFK to behave themselves, and it's this playing it straight when most films of this type would have gone for over-the-top gore and humor that makes "Bubba Ho-Tep" an instant cult classic.
on September 28, 2004
There are parts of BH-T where the direction threatens to get a little serious on us, centered on mortality and regret and squandered chances -- then the director goes back to the mummy. Perfect balance. It's far from flawless, but I love what it's trying to do. Of course the scarab looks like a prop -- it's a movie prop. Do you really need the bug to be crafted by ILM to enjoy this movie? Sheesh. Look, this movie doesn't try to be more than it is, and in doing so, you can find a lot in it. Coscarelli is giving the audience members ample room to use BH-T as a metaphor for their own lives. But with mummies and Elvis. Don't you wish you had more mummies and Elvis?
on January 29, 2005
I think Amazon recommended this movie to me because I am a huge fan of Christopher Moore (an author who stories are very much like this movie) and my interest was immediately piqued. When I got it for Christmas, no one understood why I would want something like this movie, but I couldn't wait to watch it. It was worth the wait. Campy and cute, my only concern was the frequent mention of Elvis's "crankshaft" issues because that meant that it's TV exposure would be limited and few others would ever see the highly enjoyable movie. Even my father liked it and he usually hates this kind of film. I highly recommend it!:)