Tuesday, February 22, 2011

#200. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

Directed By: Don Coscarelli

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce

Tag line: "You know the legends... Now learn the truth"

Trivia: Despite the fact that Elvis Presley is the main character, not one piece of Elvis's music is heard in the film

Elvis Presley living in a Texas rest home? John F. Kennedy as an elderly black man? A 3,000-year-old mummy walking around in a cowboy hat? What's not to love about Bubba Ho-Tep?

Bubba Ho-Tep gives hope to all those who could never accept that the King of Rock and Roll was dead. As it turns out, he isn't. Elvis (Bruce Campbell) is indeed alive...but just barely. In failing health, the King spends most of his time lying in bed at the rest home, thinking back on the “glory days”, when he was on top of the world.  Far removed from those happier times, the King laments how god-awful boring his life has become. Then suddenly, as if on queue, people at the rest home start dying. With the help of his good friend, former President John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis), who apparently survived the assassination and is living out his days as a black man, Elvis investigates these seemingly ‘random’ deaths. It doesn't take long for them to conclude that an ancient Egyptian mummy is sucking the life force from the seniors in residence, and the only way to stop the killings is to face the powerful creature themselves.

Bubba Ho-Tep spends much of it's running time walking a fine line between comedy and horror, methodically merging the two into an entertaining whole. The screams that Bubba Ho-Tep generates are genuine: for starters, there are Elvis' disturbing dreams, which include erratic visions of the murders being committed. To coincide with these images, there’s also a frightfully chilling hallway running through the rest home, which at night takes on supernatural qualities all its own. A deep hum rattles through these halls, broken occasionally by low-level chanting or the sharp echoes of footsteps.

As these elements build up the dread, the character of Elvis, played perfectly by Bruce Campbell, is busy getting a few laughs. Reduced to a resident in a third-rate home for the aged, Elvis has become a bitter old man that everyone assumes is insane. Years earlier, Elvis, wanting to live a life of obscurity, changed places with one of his many impersonators, a guy named Sebastian Haff (also played by Campbell), who, while living as the King, developed a drug habit and dropped dead of a heart attack (of course, nobody believes this story).

Age has also thrown a few physical problems the King’s way, including a broken hip that won’t heal properly and a rather bothersome lump in an uncomfortable place (“How could I have gone from the King of Rock and Roll to this”, he wonders, “An old guy in a rest home in East Texas with a growth on his pecker?”). Throughout Bubba Ho-Tep, the humor never strays far from the horror; the mummy is a truly frightening creation, but it’s hard to get too scared when he's facing off against a battle-ready Elvis, who wears his patented sequined jumpsuit to the final showdown.

Those who still worship Elvis Aaron Presley as a cultural deity may have a hard time watching this movie, but for everyone else, Bubba Ho-Tep will undoubtedly leave you in stitches.


Anonymous said...

u think this is horror mr shock i would classify this one as a comedy. really didn't like it.

the predictions was a nice addition for 2011 i will be waiting to see those horror movies at the theater.

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by, and for the comment.

I definitely think Bubba Ho-Tep qualifies, at least in part, as a horror film. There are definitely moments that get the blood pumping (especially some of the scenes in that desolate hallway at night). While I'd agree that, thanks in large part to Bruce Campbell's turn as Elvis, the comedy is much more prevalent, I wouldn't classify it as ONLY a comedy.

I'm glad you enjoyed the predictions...I'm looking forward to those films myself!

Thanks again for stopping by, and for listening to Planet Macabre.

Klaus said...

It's been some time since I've seen Bubba - and do recall laughing a lot, but I agree Dave, that there are some pretty good "horror" moments amongst the laughs.

It's like saying that because Shaun of the Dead is a comedy - that's it not a zombie movie.

...although some zombie purists might argue :)

DVD Infatuation said...

Klaus: Thanks for that. Yeah, I can see why some people might see this as more of a comedy, but there's definitely horror in here as well.

And SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a good example to use. Sure, it's a comedy, but there are some "zombie" moments as well.

Anonymous said...

Britain follower and I must say this is not my cup of tea nor krimpits, didn't help that I dont like Elvis either.

Doctor Shock I do indeed like the classics on Chills DVD section. Have a real thing for oldies and hammer horror.

DVD Infatuation said...

Hello, and thanks for stopping by!

As for Bubba Ho-Tep, I did enjoy it, but I can see where it wouldn't be everyone's "cup of tea and krimpits", as you say (and yes, not liking Elvis would definitely start you off on the wrong foot with the film).

Thanks so much for the kind words on the "Chills of Yesteryear" selections. I appreciate it. As for Hammer films, stay tuned...we might just have a theme coming up you will enjoy (and it MAY be soon. Not "Next", mind you, but "soon"!).

Thanks again for the comment, and for listening to Planet Macabre.