Bubba Ho-Tep (Don Coscarelli, 2002, USA)

  Bubba Ho-Tep is a surprisingly excellent horror-comedy set in an old age. What seems to be a joke of a premise - a man who believes he is Elvis Presley and a man who believes he is JFK decide to fight an ancient Egyptian mummy who is stealing souls at a nursing home - actually reveals itself to be a moving meditation on aging. Based on a novel by Joe R. Lansdale, the film is directed by Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli is best known for the Phantasm series of films. Here he demonstrates his talent for comedy and pathos. 

Bruce Campbell as Elvis Presley (or is he?) might be the best performance of his career. Campbell matches the physical likeness of Elvis and his mannerisms. Another actor who steals the show is Ossie Davis as JFK. Both he and Campbell play their parts straight, and it works very well. This is one of the great aspects of Bubba Ho-Tep. While it sounds campy, and it is, the film actually seems to have a remarkable reverence for Elvis. It plays the story straight, and that works better than if it were to play the story only for laughs.

There is also a moving aspect to this story, as it reflects how people can be discarded once they reach a certain age. Elvis’s rumination on his past glory and his choice to abandon the life of celebrity have a melancholy aspect to them. There are also some great lines in the film. Ossie Davis sharing a Baby Ruth bar with Elvis and telling him “Let’s get decadent” might be one of the best lines in the film. Elvis’s problem with his family jewels is also the source of a lot of humorous moments within the film. Overall, Bubba Ho-Tep is a memorable if not perfect cult film. 


8/10

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