directed by Don Coscarelli
starring Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis
My sincerest thanks go out to the Indie Memphis Film Festival (http://www.indiememphis.com). Because of their dedication to supporting the finest independent films with a Southern flavor, my wife and I had the opportunity to see the most anticipated film of the year, Bubba Ho-Tep. For those of you who know the premise of this film, I need say no more. For those that do not, get yourself to http://www.bubbahotep.com immediately, then come back here for the rest of the review. It’s OK I’ll wait… Good. Now that we’re caught up, let’s begin.
I have been waiting to see this film since I first heard that someone was adapting the Joe R. Lansdale short story. I have never read it, but the concept fascinated me. When I heard which two actors were attached as the leads, it made the wait unbearable. Then the finished film started getting rave reviews and winning awards from film festivals, but couldn’t find a distributor. I had resigned myself to never seeing it. Or at best having to wait until the eventual DVD release.
So, was it worth the wait? Did it live up to the hype? While no movie could ever live up to the fanboy hype surrounding some of these cult classics, Bubba Ho-Tep sure is one helluva fun ride. It is a well-made film with production values that far outshine its modest budget. The sound editing is exceptional, truly surrounding you in the theater during the tense moments. The score is a romp through different musical styles, each fitting the respective scenes with organic perfection. And the special make-up effects for the mummy are a fine example of the masterwork of KNB EFX. All of this adds to the wonderful acting of the cast. While the supporting cast effectively aids in telling the story, this movie belongs to Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as Jack. Since Campbell has infused so much of Elvis in his Ash character through the years, he was the logical choice to play the convalescent King here. But casting Ossie Davis as a pigment-altered JFK hidden from his assassins was a stroke of genius. Their chemistry here is truly magical, as they play lines off each other you just wouldn’t accept elsewhere.
The true horror that Don Coscarelli instills in us comes not from an ancient mummy in a cowboy hat. No, he hits us where it’s really scary •- the fear of growing old and being alone. As we watch the old Elvis question his life and its meaning, or lack thereof, while his fellow rest home residents are being carted out covered in sheets day by day, we see the all-too-possible horror that can happen to anyone. But it is from this place of personal horror that Coscarelli, through Campbell and Davis, shows that in the face of a threat to something you hold dear, you will rise to the challenge. This is the mark of a truly great film director.
This is more than just a movie about Elvis and JFK fighting a mummy in an East Texas rest home. This is about life. This is about living. This is about friendship. This is about heroes. And this is about odd growths on the King of Rock-n-roll’s pecker! If you get a chance to see this film in your area, definitely check it out.
Bubba Ho-Tep: http://www.bubbahotep.com/