by Gary Schultz
The King of Cult is the King of Rock!
Film Monthly Home
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
This is how Elvis gets his mojo back. Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.), the coolest B-movie actor ever—wait…scratch that. The coolest actor ever is back in the Don Coscarelli (Phantasm, The Beastmaster) film Bubba Ho-Tep. This is hands down Bruce Campbell’s best cinema performance since Army of Darkness. Every Bruce Campbell fan that hasn’t seen this film should get off his or her ass and drive I don’t care how many miles to see it. Drive across the state, across the country, drive across your grandmother for all I care. See this movie. There convinced yet? What? Who’s Bruce Campbell? Do you live in a box? Oh, you live in a hole. We let me catch you up on what you’re missing.
Bubba Ho-Tep stars Bruce Campbell as a seventy-year-old Elvis, who is stuck in a retirement home with a cancerous bole on his penis. The problem is nobody believes he’s really Elvis except another patient played by Ossie Davis (Get On the Bus, The Client) who believes he himself is JFK, thing is he’s a black man. So seventy year old Elvis and Jack Kennedy team up to fight an ancient mummy that is attacking the elders in their retirement home and consuming their souls.
JFK spends the first half the film playing detective and coming up with clues to capture the mummy. Meanwhile Elvis spins his back-story on how he came to be in a retirement home, what happened with his career and his alleged death. Seems at the height of his popularity he switched places with an Elvis impersonator for a change of lifestyle and wasn’t able to switch back. The best moments of this film for me was seeing how Bruce approached the King with sensitivity and regret. Here we have a main character that is dying who we can truly feel sympathetic for and yet he is crude and bitter. He talks in depth about his regret for leaving his wife and never being a father to his daughter. What director Don Coscarelli has made is a film that doesn’t fit into the Hollywood cookie cutter standard. He’s made a truly entertaining, funny, dark film that wasn’t produced by a fortune five hundred company.
Enough praise, I know you want me to criticize, okay I will. This is definitely a character piece. The plot is not the strongest part of the film. But for me great characters tell great stories. The actual mummy in this film is kind of cool. Not kick ass cool, but kind of cool. Mummies to me just don’t seem that dangerous. Even the old Universal ones never really scared me. Mummies are cool because they are dead, wrapped in bandages, and come with curses. I mean, come on, the combined efforts of Elvis and JFK could surely overcome a mythical mass of a rotting flesh monster—right? Couldn’t they?
So to wrap it up here’s what we’ve learned: Bubba Ho-Tep isn’t just any Elvis movie. This is a seventy year old, crippled hip, cancer on his dick, bitter to the world but will overcome and get his mojo back kind of Elvis movie. After his death JFK was painted black and had part of his brain replaced with a little bag of sand. Mummies wear cowboy boots. Giant cockroaches can kill. Even fat Elvis is cool. Oh and, “Thank you, thank you very much—Now hail to the King.”
Gary Schultz is an indie filmmaker from Chicago. He works under an independent production company called Highertribe Productions and spends his days coordinating the Screenwriting Center for Columbia College.
Got a problem? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org