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minor plot points revealed!
Lets just start by explaining what the film Bubba Ho-tep is about. Bubba Ho-tep is the story of an ancient Egyptian mummy who has risen from the dead to suck the souls from the residents of a run down Texas nursing home. One of the residents of the old folks home is Elvis Presley. Not some old deranged guy who thinks he's Elvis, this is the real Elvis. At the tail end of his stardom he switched placed with his best impersonator, Sebastian Haff, and that's who subsequently died on the toilet at Graceland. Unfortunately the contract that proved his true identity and would have allowed him to resume his former life were destroyed in a freak barbecue accident. Back at the rest home Elvis is good friends with fellow resident Jack Kennedy. The former President is now an elderly black man who is convinced that he was dyed black by the CIA after the shooting, and has had a portion of his brain removed and replaced with a tiny little sack filled with sand. Elvis and JFK are aware that the mummy requires souls to live and they are determined to stop it before they become the it's next victims.
Now you know what the film is about. You can abandon the review if this is all too much for you. If however, you are interested, you can continue and hear all about how much I loved this film and how you should rush out and see/rent it as soon as possible.
Bubba Ho-tep is like no other movie I have ever seen and I doubt I will ever see another like it again (unless the joke at the end of the credits about “Bubba Nosferatu’’ is true.) This is the main reason that I loved this film so much. It's super-rare to see a truly original and unique movie. The last one I can remember was Adaptation. I loved having no idea what was going to happen next and that it was so seriously played yet outlandishly wacky.
Besides the crazy premise that should be reason enough to see the movie, the other reason I was excited to see it was that Elvis is played by film legend Bruce Campbell. Except for bit parts and failed TV shows, we haven't really seen Bruce "don't call me Ash" Campbell in a lead role since he reprised his Evil Dead series persona for 1993's masterwork Army of Darkness. So it was a thrill to see him again. I imagine the theater full of nerds and geeks who were there watching the movie with me on Sunday morning were also happy to see him.
This is an incredibly hip movie. You feel "cool" just watching it. Because it's not well known or marketed to the public at large, it's like your in a secret little club. Bubba Ho-tep was made to be a cult movie and it can easily take it's place along side the classics of the genre.
Director Don Coscarelli, has fashioned a film that works, despite it's storyline, because it takes itself completely seriously. It is not played directly as a comedy or horror movie. The Elvis character is very human and sympathetic. There is a voice over monologue by Campbell that is truly dramatic, contemplative and retrospective. I know it sounds crazy but it's true. The friendship between Elvis and JFK is also very real and wonderful. They both immediately accept each other, become friends, and set to the task of stopping the mummy.
The special effects are not great but they are not the point of the film. If you want over the top multi-million dollar mummy effects then watch those kiddy Brendan Frasier Mummy movies. The mummy in this film is basically just a decaying corpse that creeps around in cowboy boots and a big cowboy hat. There aren't many other special effects. There's a few big Scarab beetles that look like props from Naked Lunch. The nursing home itself has a cool effect in that the vast corridors seen inside the home could not possibly fit inside the building that we see from the outside. The only other effect of note would be Bruce's make-up which makes him into a 68 year old version of The King.
The actors are all awesome. Obviously, Bruce Campbell is excellent as the elderly Elvis. His real and earnest portrayal make the movie. In another stunning casting coup, veteran actor and civil-rights activist Ossie Davis is on hand as JFK. I have no idea how they convinced him to make this movie but he is fabulous and seems to enjoy playing the absurd character.
In case I haven't been clear with the review, I loved Bubba Ho-tep. It's a hilarious fun, super-cool movie that you would be crazy for not seeing. It's not playing in many theaters so just wait a couple months and catch it on DVD. I guarantee you have never seen anything like it.