BUBBA HO-TEPIT'S TIME FOR A-C-T-I-O-N! | Oct 11, 2003
Finally, a movie that didn’t disappoint me this week! After an extremely long wait, Bruce Campbell and Don Coscarelli’s latest has finally arrived.
I might as well just jump into the story. Bubba Ho-tep is the story of an elderly Elvis, stuck in a rest home. He had tired of fame and his scheming friends, and traded places with an Elvis impersonator. It was the impersonator that died, not Elvis. In the mean time the real Elvis worked as an Elvis impersonator until he injured himself and ended up in the rest home. But the rest home’s not all about relaxation. Elvis has become bored with life. Days fly past as if sped up at ludicrous speed. He no longer cares. That is until an ancient mummy starts using the rest home as his very own private soul buffet. The mummy needs to ingest souls to stay alive. Souls can be removed from any orifice in the body. Too bad this Mummy has a bit of an anal fixation. Elvis teams up with JFK (Ossie Davis, pictured below), whose death was also faked, in order to defeat the ass-soul sucking menace. With the right moves, a little ingenuity, and a good dose of hunka-hunka burnin’ love, these two elderly legends might just have what it takes. The King of rock, the King of all Presidents, and the king of Ancient Egypt get ready for the ultimate showdown.
Most of the story is narrated by Elvis, and all the necessary back-story is revealed through flashbacks. We’re first introduced to Elvis in his bed. He mourns the loss of Priscilla, his daughter, and his erectile function, and ponders the sores at the end of his penis. It’s gross, but you can’t help but laugh. In the bed next to him lay his roommate Bull Thomas (Harrison Thomas, the actor that played old Private Ryan), on his very last legs. He coughs and sputters his last, but Elvis pays no heed. His friends die every day at the rest home. It’s nothing new.
On a side note it seems that since Thomas made it through Spielberg’s film unharmed, every new director makes sure he dies. He’s been killed so far in Ken Park, House of 1000 Corpses, and now Bubba Ho-tep. It’s not a spoiler, just an inside joke.
If you’re expecting another Evil Dead splat-stick fest, hold up. This is a much slower paced film (is does take place in a rest home). Most of the comedy lies in the dialogue, subtle character nuances and interactions. At the same time I couldn’t stop laughing. Bruce and Ossie shine whenever they are on screen. Every look, gesture, saying, kept the audience in tears. There are so many quotable lines! When Elvis tells JFK he’s the wrong color to be the president he retorts, “It was the government! They dyed me this color!” When Elvis tries to report his sighting of a bloodthirsty scarab he exclaims “You’ve got a bug problem man. Big suckers. About the size of a peanut butter and banana sandwich.” And best of all, when Elvis and JFK prepare for battle, he mutters “It’s time for A-C-T…I-O-N.”
Elvis has got the Karate moves, but they are just dance steps, they do nothing at all to help him in battle. JFK is the brains of the operation, and has all the books needed for them to confront and overpower the mummy. Teamwork is the only way to win. It’s wonderful!
The music score was composed by Brian Tyler, or Six String Samurai fame, and is perfect mood music. Another treat for cult fanatics is the addition of Daniel Roebuck (River’s Edge) as one of the hearse drivers.
I so loved Bubba Ho-Tep.
Since Chris was so articulate, and I don't want to take the spotlight away from him, I’ll just add a few things..
In a nutshell:
REACTION: YAY! Woohoo! *cartwheel cartwheel*
SOCIAL COMMENTARY: How easily the proletariat can be duped, how we regret and pine, how we treat the elderly, how the elderly treat the elderly. How Elvis and JFK can still kick some ass.
MUSIC: Unobtrusive and appropriate.
EFFECTS: Best flaming guy since that Radiohead video. (Thanks once again KNB). Thanks for obscuring the Mummy in shadows.. brilliant trick rehashed. Sound effects were hilarious (i.e.: ointment/Vaseline squishing for days) and creepifying (i.e.: at the scary parts, duh). Love those Naked Lunch bugs.
EDITING: Beautiful pacing throughout. Flash-cut +force-sped photography exhibit passage of time. Surreal and realistic moments denouncing what we may have memorised as the ‘truth’. I felt as though I was watching events through the eyes of my grandfather at times.
ACTING: Are you kidding me? Amazing!
Now it’s soapbox time!
Bubba Ho-tep is a true, old school independent film, not one of these neo-independents packaged and produced by Miramax/Fox Searchlight/etc. It has a completely grass roots campaign and we need to help it out if you want to see more movies like it made. Please make the trip to see Bubba Ho-tep. The cities listed on the site’s list are just the major ones. There may be theatres in the surrounding area playing the film. Ie: The San Francisco engagement is also playing simultaneously in Palo Alto, San Jose, etc.)
I know a lot of you didn’t get out to see Cabin Fever, but these are the types of films that need to be supported. Mainstream pictures can get sequels whether they’re good or not because people still see them. Take the weekend off from bad mainstream film and check out a film with something unique to offer. If enough people see it, studios will take notice.
DO YOUR PART TO SUPPORT INDIE HORROR!
SEE BUBBA HO-TEP!