Elvis and JFK are alive. It's true. They're holed up in a rest home in
Mud Creek, Texas. Not only that, but they've discovered a mummy that is
preying on the souls of their fellow residents.
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, and
Although it sounds like something a drunken conspiracy buff would make
up while he's on a six-day bender, it's the plot of Bubba Ho-tep, a film
from Don Coscarelli, who's previous work includes Phantasm and The
Working from a story by Joe R. Lansdale, Coscarelli creates an off-beat
but somehow endearing tale of two American legends fighting death figuratively
Elvis (Bruce Campbell) switched
places with an impersonator before he "died." Since
the contract that allowed him to switch back was destroyed in a barbequing
accident, Elvis has lived a life of obscurity in Mud Creek's Shady Rest
Home. Fellow resident Jack (Ossie Davis) believes he is John F. Kennedy.
According to Jack, he was dyed black following the assassination attempt
in Dallas and had a bag of sand placed in his head where his brain used
to be. He now spends his time researching the conspiracy theories to
figure out who tried to kill him. (Although, he believes that his real
brain in Washington, D.C. beaming thoughts to him from a transmitter.)
These two American icons are
not in the best of shape. Elvis needs a walker to get around and JFK
uses a powered wheelchair for long trips.
When it's discovered that an Egyptian mummy -- or "soul sucker" --
is prowling the premises and feeding on their friends, the mission to
stop it gives both men something to live for again.
It should be pretty obvious that Bubba
Ho-tep is playing for laughs,
but it's not full of the type of crazy, laugh-out-loud humor you might
expect in a film like this. (Although the movie certainly has a few of
those moments.) No, believe it or not, Bubba Ho-tep is a relatively sweet-natured
film when it deals with the neglect of senior citizens and the fate of
the now-humble Elvis. Seeing Elvis confront the daughter of a recently
deceased roommate about why she never visited her father in three years
is actually very touching.
In all honesty, the mummy story is the least interesting and least successful
part of the film. Seeing Elvis and JFK interact with each other and deal
with their individual situations is much more interesting and fun. The
mummy kind of intrudes on things and spoils the fun for the viewer almost
as much as he does for the residents of Shady Rest. I say almost as much
because the film still remains enjoyable once the mummy becomes the focal
point, just a little less so.
Even so, Bruce Campbell delivers the best performance of his career.
Yes, even topping his work in the Evil Dead series. Campbell is the most
underrated and underutilized leading man in acting today. He's perfect
as the aging Elvis. Absolutely perfect.
If you're interested in seeing a quirky film that's definitely not like
anything else you've seen this year, check out Bubba Ho-tep. If you're
a Bruce Campbell fan and haven't seen the film yet, do so now. This is
definitely Campbell's film and worth seeing solely because of him, whether
you're a fan or not.
six prints of the film were originally made, causing its extremely
limited and on-going release schedule. The Soul of Southern Film
Festival, in Memphis, Tennessee, paid for a seventh print, so that
they wouldn't have to wait another year to show the film. (Source: The
Internet Movie Database)