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Mud Creek, Texas, is about to get all shook up. When mysterious deaths plague the Shady Rest retirement home, it's up to an aging, cantankerous "Elvis" (Bruce Campbell) and a decrepitand black"JFK" (Ossie Davis) to defeat a 3,000-year-old-Egyptian mummy with a penchant for sucking human souls! Can the King show the world that he can still take care of business?
Don Coscarelli directs and Bruce Campbell stars as the King of Camp in this intentionally over-the-top schlockfest. Bubba Ho-Tep is partially about Elvis Presley and partially about the title character, an Egyptian cowboy zombie, but mostly it is about camp. The movie is equal parts story and back story. We learn through narration and flashback how Elvis didn't really die, ending up instead in a rest home in East Texas with JFK (played by Ossie Davis), who was dyed black and had his brain removed, presumably for reasons of national security. Campbell and Davis realize that something strange is going on when their rest-home compatriots start dropping off suspiciously. The whole movie leads up to a final showdown to the death with the Egyptian cowboy zombie who has been sucking the souls of their fellow residents because he thought no one would notice. The movie unfolds a bit slowly; it is, after all, a geriatrics-fight-Egyptian-cowboy-zombie movie. However, one wishes this self-conscious movie's pacing took its cue from the atypically fast-moving zombie instead of from the senior-citizen Elvis and JFK. In the end, though, Campbell is flawless as the aged King; his accent, intonations, glasses, and trademark karate are at the same time sincere and over the top. --Brian SaltzmanSee all Editorial Reviews
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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
Update: In the interest of being fair I'd like to offer the following amendment.
First I'd like to say that the performances of the main actors (Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce) was very good. I particularly liked Bruce Campbell's portrayal of an elderly Elvis, fairly believable. The bit about Ossie Davis playing an elderly, now black, JFK was amazing...in a way where "amazing" means somewhere out in left field. Being familiar with Bruce Campbell's work both prior to and since this film I should have expected the premise of this movie to be less about reality and more about wacky. Actually I've come to respect and enjoy Mr. Campbell since his taking the role of Sam Axe in Burn Notice, but I digress. The retirement home setting was very good. The home was almost a character in itself, dimly lit hallways, dated decorations and furnishings (with the exception of JFK's "White House" room), quite depressing and appropriate.
More to the point...I was expecting more than a typical "B-grade" Bruce Campbell movie, not exactly sure why. If you go into this movie to just have a good time, like you would if you were going to watch Man with the Screaming Brain or Alien Apocalypse, you will undoubtedly be amused. After this introspection I've raised my rating to 2 stars, which is where I'd rate some other Campbell works (but not Burn Notice, that's 4 or 5 stars).