BUBBA HO-TEP – The Dungeon Review!
Ho-tep n. 1. Relative or descendent of the 17 dynasties, 3100-1550 B.C. 2. Family surname of an Egyptian Pharaoh (King).
Bubba n. 1. Male from the Southern U.S. 2. Good Ole boy.
3. Cracker, red neck, trailer park resident.
I borrowed this from a friend’s collection. This is my second viewing of this film. I actually enjoyed this even more the second time around. Although there is a soul sucking mummy, don’t go into this expecting a straight up horror flick. The one common ground most of us horror hounds have is Bruce Campbell. There are few genre fans that would tell you they hate the Evil Dead Triology. Although there is plenty to like about the films, let’s face it, Ash is the glue that holds them together. Ossie Davis is a delight but it is Mr. Campbell’s performance as an aging Elvis Presley that takes Bubba Ho-Tep from great to pure unadulterated perfection.
The film is an adaptation of a short story by Joe R. Lansdale. We find a senior Elvis Presley living in a Texas rest home. Several years previous, wanting to escape stardom and live a more “normal” life, he switched identities with an Elvis impersonator. Now the real Elvis is living out his twilight years alone, with a bad hip, an infected pecker and a lot of regrets. He befriends a fellow resident who thinks that he is President John F. Kennedy. The two discover that their rest home has become a feeding ground for a soul sucking Egyptian mummy and the two team up to save the day.
This is comedy first. Although there are times you will chuckle at the indignities of aging, there is a great deal of respect giving to the subject also. Campbell’s portrayal of an aging superstar is funny, sweet and empathetic. Davis is perfectly cast as the man who believes he was JFK and is the perfect compliment to Campbell’s Elvis. Ossie Davis was in fact 85 when the film was made and is sharp as a tack. Both characters are just extremely likeable and you really root for them. Mr. Landsdale’s Elvis twist is inspired. Why couldn’t Elvis have switched places with an impersonator? It is more plausible than most film plots. He has all manner of appropriate regrets about having treated Pricsilla better and wishing he had gotten to know his daughter. But let’s not get too serious here. What this film could use is an evil Egyptian mummy! The horror here is never actually horrifying and the film has no intention of attempting to frighten you. The mummy is pretty nifty looking though, and amusingly dons a oversized cowboy hat and boots. Normally I would shout out for more horror but I don’t think it was appropriate here. Coscarelli keeps things pretty simple. His senior heroes are not super, they fall down, use walkers and wheelchairs and wear pajamas when they go to bed. There isn’t a thing I would change here. I do not have a single complaint about this film. A bizarre, endearing, funny and completetly original film that entertained the hell out of me!
As a side note here, when I was looking up cast for this review on IMDB I noticed that Don Coscarelli is doing a prequel to Bubba called “Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires”. The premise as follows: “This prequel to Bubba Ho-Tep finds Elvis shooting a film in Louisiana when he runs afoul of a coven of she-vampires.” It has been officially announced but strangely Bruce Campbell’s name is absent from the cast list. I will say I am loving the choice of Paul Giamatti to play Colonel Parker but Ron Perlman replacing Campbell? I actually like Ron Perlman but I don’t see him working here at all. I don’t know anything beyond what’s stated here but Bruce was perfect in the first one. Perfect! Did Coscarelli ask Bruce? Did he turn it down? Did he want too much money? Maybe they clashed on the set the first time around? What the hell?
I will have to add Bubba Ho-tep to my TOP 100 films and my personal library. This get’s the mother of all recommendations baby!
Dungeon Rating: 5/5
Directed By: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy, Edith Jefferson, Larry Pennell, Reggie Bannister, Daniel Roebuck and Daniel Schweiger