Okay, I'm not sure how to even begin to review this film. This is definitely one of the oddest films I have ever seen, though not in a bad way. Okay, I'll just give you the lowdown on the plot line. Elvis (Bruce Campbell) is alive (or is he?) and he's living in a retirement home, suffering from a broken hip and, well, penis cancer. He joins forces with another one of the patients, a black man (Ossie David) who believes he's JFK. "They dyed me this color!" to fight a 4,000 year old soul sucking mummy who wears a cowboy hat, snakeskin boots and a tattered western style shirt. Yes, certainly one of the most bizarre, campy plotlines in history, but that's kind of the point.
This is definitely a laugh-out-loud kind of movie. A very low budget film that received a huge amount of praise from the most unlikely of sources, art house cinemas and the film festival crowd. Why all the buzz? Well, there's a layer to this film that is completely unexpected. It's not just camp, it's something deeper than that. Campbell is brilliant as an over-the-hill Elvis, or perhaps, simply deranged Elvis impersonator, that is never explicitly answered. He plays the geriatric Elvis with a huge degree of self reflection and pathos. Couple his performance with Ossie Davis as JFK, and you realize this is more than a campy horror movie, it's about how we just cast aside the elderly, dismiss them, treat them like children, or ignore them all together.
Now, to explain the deal with Elvis in this movie, the character Campbell plays is either Elvis, or a man who thinks he's Elvis. The explanation is that he went to meet the greatest Elvis impersonator in the world, a man named Sebastian Haff (Also played by Bruce Campbell) and agrees to trade places with him because the fame was too much for him to handle. So as a career, the "real" Elvis took on Haff's role and did shows impersonating, well, himself. Yes, it sounds more confusing than it is, but we're left to make up our own minds as to whether or not this is the true King or not.
With brilliant direction from Don Coscarelli (Writer/Director of the cult horror classic Phantasm) Bubba Ho-Tep surprises at it's ability to make these believable characters out of unbelievable character types as well as its ability to make us care about them. It should also be noted that while the DVD is released through MGM, this is truly an independent picture. It was made for under 6 million dollars, though the effects, done by noted KNB Effects Group prevent the budgetary constraints from coming off as cheesy.
This DVD is definitely worth the 20 dollar price tag. loaded with extras. There are two separate commentary tracks, one with the director, Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell, and a second commentary track with "The King". There's also a reading by the author of the short story the film originated from of, well, the short story itself as well as three deleted scenes, four behind the scenes documentaries a music video, photo gallery, theatrical trailer and TV spots.
Don't let the title throw you, pick this one up, if you're lucky enough to find it. My Suncoast had already sold out by three this afternoon and my Best Buy only had two copies left to its name, so it is going fast. This is a great movie, well worth the price and the time.
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