Reviewed by Alex Strickland
Posted January 23, 2005
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This review has been a long time coming, ever since I saw the film at the Tower Theater here in Sacramento. Unfortunately, I always got stuck, never knowing how to do the film justice. Suffice to say, Bubba Ho-tep works. The comedy works, the drama works, and the horror works. Coscarelli's direction, Lansdale's story, Brian Tyler's rock-n-roll-spaghetti-western score - they all work.
The easiest way to explain Science Fiction and Fantasy is that they are the results of playing the "what if" game. What if man could travel to the stars? What if there were another sentient race in the galaxy? What would be the aftermath of a nuclear war?
What if Elvis had never died?
Based on the Bram Stoker Award nominated short story by Joe R. Lansdale, Bubba Ho-tep tells the story of what really became of the King of Rock. Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley, now an elderly resident in the East Texas rest-home of Shady Rest. According to Elvis, he switched places with an impersonator by the name of Sebastian Haff years ago, and then missed his chance to switch back.
The only one who believes him is fellow resident Jack (Davis), who thinks he is President John F. Kennedy. When an evil Egyptian soul-sucker chooses their long-term care facility as his hunting grounds, the two venture forth to do battle with the forces of darkness.
Now, 75% of you are saying to yourselves, "What the hell?" If that's the case, just stop reading now. This movie ain't for you. This review is for the other 25%, the people who read that and think, "Fuckin' A."
If you're in that 25%, this movie won't disappoint you. Don Coscarelli effectively blends a slew of genres into a hilarious, quirky, and surprisingly touching film in Bubba Ho-tep.
Bruce is outstanding as the aging Elvis Presley, a man ruing his life and fearing his inevitable mortality. His lamentations over being stuck at Shady Rest, and not being able to tell his daughter that he loves her, and the regrets of his past are particularly poignant. Equally at home in his role is Ossie Davis as Jack, who, with his surprising knowledge of the occult, aids Elvis in his redemptive quest.
And that's really the key-word for Bubba Ho-tep: redemption. Elvis fights for the souls at Shady Rest to save his own; to be a man and to be proud again.
This movie is a diamond in the rough. No studio would ever dare to attempt the tale, so it's up to the independents to keep the brilliance of film alive.
That's Bubba Ho-tep, baby - takin' care of business.
Also available: Ogre3000's review
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