Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy
Director: Don Coscarelli
The King is dead, long live Elvis. Using a probable twist that Elvis is still alive and spending his last days in a rest home in Mud Creek, Texas, we find that the former King of Rock ‘n’ Roll has woken up from a 20-year coma with a cancerous growth on his pecker. Even though there are some people who still hang on to the image of a hip shaking Elvis, this older Elvis (Bruce Campbell) has a bad hip and unsuccessfully convinces those around him that he is the real deal. Back in the days when he still had a successful career, Elvis realised that everything around him was going sour. Wanting to escape from it all, Elvis pays an imitator to impersonate him while Elvis takes on the imitator’s identity. After the imitator died of a drug overdose, Elvis went back on stage, impersonating himself.
Now, Elvis finds that time is finally catching up to him and he needs to prove to himself that he can still do something worthwhile while he is breathing. The days just drift on by for Elvis who sees another fellow patient die of natural causes. While this might seem normal for a resting home, the deaths of some of the other patients are not. Elvis is woken in the night by a victim pleading for help before she is whisked off and killed by a mysterious killer. The next night, Elvis is attacked by a cockroach from hell and manages to kill it.
The only friend that Elvis has at the rest home who believes his story is a patient who claims to be John F Kennedy (Ossie Davis). Elvis and JFK both figure out that a soul-sucking mummy is prowling the corridors and killing off the residents. The only thing to do is to either move to a new home or do something about it and do it in style. With JFK in his newly pressed suit and Elvis in his white jump suit, they go off to hunt Ho-Tep. But do they really know what they are doing?
BUBBA HO-TEP is not a movie that can easily be pigeonholed into one specific genre. With the great Bruce Campbell playing the former King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Bruce’s own description of the movie is probably the best, “a redemptive Elvis mummy movie”. The movie itself was written and directed by Don Coscarelli, who created the PHANTASM horror series. Anyone familiar with the PHANTASM movies will recognise the stark settings and minimum number of actors involved on screen. This does not come as too much of a surprise as this was shot as a low budget movie. With the use of quick cuts to show the passing of time, dreams and thoughts, the narrative flows along where words would have only gotten in the way. What this movie also does is address what happens to people who are getting old, where things unsaid or not accomplished will have to be concluded before it is too late. This is a cult movie that is more arthouse and thought provoking than one frame from this year’s blockbuster dud such as CATWOMAN could ever be.