Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It has just dawned on me that I have no idea what Elvis Presley really sounds like.  I only know what Elvis impersonators sound like and not the man himself.  So when Bruce Campbell says, in his best Elvis, “I have a growth on my pecker, what do I care” He sounds just like Elvis as far as I can tell, but then does he?  It seems the real Elvis, now dead for close to thirty years, has been lost in a sea of imitators which is all a whole generation of folks knows about the man – including myself.  This is sad for The King.  Well, I do know a little bit more because my grandfather was on the construction crew that built Graceland.  Me and The King linked like forever yo. 

‘Bubba Ho-Tep’ I would say is director Dan Coscarelli’s melancholy sweet tribute to The King, and a re-imagining of the life of Elvis, how he would feel about his life and how he lived his life where he still alive today.  Then set it in the location of a old folks group home and frame that around a mummy who sucks the souls from old people out of their assholes, then toss in a Black guy who thinks he is JFK dyed brown by Lyndon B. Johnson and you basically have a movie that calls itself ‘Bubba Ho-Tep’.

The LEGENDARY Bruce Campbell narrates his story in the voice of Elvis, as I know Elvis at least, as a patron in an old folks home somewhere in East Texas.  Now everybody thinks that he is Elvis impersonator Sebastian Haff, but as Elvis tells us in glorious flashback style, he was tired of being Elvis and decided to trade places with the best impersonator he could find with the stipulation being he could trade back with the dude anytime he wanted to.  Elvis was enjoying pretending to be Elvis so much, without any of the stress of fame, that he wasn’t in any hurry to get back to his old life.  Then it turned out that Haff liked drugs even more than Elvis which led to the inglorious death of The King that we’re all familiar with rendering Elvis’ need or want to return to his previous life a moot point.  Then Elvis throws out his back during a show which lands him in this particular home where he’s been for quite a few years now, bound to a walker, with a lesion on his pecker.

The mystery begins when old folks start dying at the old folks home which is usually a fairly common occurrence since that is why we send them there in first place.  When JFK (the late Ossie Davis) manages to thwart his own demise, he tells Elvis what happened and what he believes is the cause.  A cowboy boot wearing, cowboy hat sporting decaying mummy sucking the souls of people about to die soon anyway, because that will keep suspicion low, but does require multiple feedings since the souls don’t have a helluva lot left.  A mummy Elvis calls Bubba (cowboy gear) Ho-tep (ancient Egypt).  Elvis asks JFK what can they do?  JFK suggest moving to another home.  But Elvis convinces the 35th president of the USA that they have business to take care of, as these two legends do battle to the death with Ho-tep for the souls of their comrades at the nursing home.

Now after reading a description of ‘Bubba Ho-tep’ one might think that this a silly farce, but they would be wrong.  Sort of.  Director Coscarelli plays this movie with a straight face.  Sort of.  You see the story itself is a farce, Elvis and JFK fighting a cowboy boot wearing mummy who sucks souls of people assholes.  But Bruce Campbell plays Elvis not as a comedic character but the real Elvis as his life would be today, full of regrets, doubt, self pity and hostility.  Ossie Davis as well doesn’t pretend to be a brown dyed JFK, he is, as far as he is concerned John F. Kennedy.  Herein lies the witty genius of ‘Bubba Hot-tep’, a comedy that really isn’t going out fishing for laughs as it simply allows itself to unfurl and lets you take it as you please.

This is a film that may not appeal to everyone as it is kind of maudlin in its pacing and certainly isn’t the slickest production around.  But it was unique, funny, original and certainly a film that I think deserves a chance.

Now in an unrelated occurrence, I just stumbled upon a Sebastian Haff action figure doll.  Now I’m not one for action figures mind you, why just the other day I was in Target and I saw this dude in the toy section who I would guess was about 45 hording Star Wars action figures.  Nothing but love that cat, but I’m glad I’m not him.  But I would buy a Sebastion Haff and Bubba Ho-tep action figure though.  For real.

Real Time Web