Don't F*#ck with The King!
Fri, 22 July 2005
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Long live the King, baby. According to this movie, which is a true story (okay, it is not true at all, but just play along - it is funnier that way), Elvis Presley is alive; though he's kind of unsure as to whether or not that's a good thing. Early in the picture, he looks at himself in a mirror and asks "How could I have gone from the king of rock 'n' roll to this? An old guy in a rest home in East Texas with a growth on his pecker."
So, Elvis is alive and he lives in a rest home in East Texas. How did he get there? Isn't it obvious? He switched places with an impersonator by the name of Sebastian Haff some years ago, because he was tired of his fame and the pressures of being the king of rock n roll. Due to various circumstances (which would take me too long to explain, so you'll just have watch the movie for the details) Elvis never got to switch back and lost all evidence that the change ever took place.
His hip (Elvis the pelvis) went out and he wound up in the home, where he has to get around with the aid of walking frame and has a troublesome growth on his penis. Everyone assumes he really is Haff and nobody believes him when he tells them that he's actually Presley. You know how it is... the same old stuff that happens to us all.
Also in the home is an old black guy named Jack, who claims that he's really President John F. Kennedy. Elvis and Jack's friendship builds and they soon have to work together in order to destroy an Egyptian Mummy (which Elvis dubs "Bubba Ho-Tep", giving the film its title). The entity is using the nursing home to prey on the residents and sucking their souls out through their anuses to keep itself in existence. Once again, it is just the regular kind of deal most of us are familiar with.
As you could probably deduce from that plot synopsis, Bubba Ho-Tep is a strange movie. But when you watch it, somehow everything just works and the story is easy to follow. No matter how bizarre things get, you never feel detached from the characters of Elvis (played by Bruce Campbell, in a truly great performance) and Jack/JFK (Ossie Davis, likewise).
|Things are about to get all shook up |
They always seem totally genuine and, somehow, remain believable. You find yourself not only laughing constantly at the hysterical dialogue that comes out of their mouths (and the excellent way they deliver it), but genuinely caring about, and feeling some affection for, them both.
It is an exceptionally and intentionally ludicrous tale, but it isn't all just cheap laughs, or strangeness just for the sake of it. There's real emotion and plenty of depth to the themes explored. Particularly interesting (and prominent) is the story's take on aging, which is something every single person has probably thought about. And if you have never given growing old any thought...you will.
Bubba Ho-Tep was written by Don Corscarelli, who adapted the screenplay from a short story by John R. Lansdale (whose writing credits include work on Batman the Animated Series). The writing is of an excellent standard, very sharp and witty throughout.
Don Corscarelli also directed it and he did a fine job of that too, especially with such a low budget. He's not a really known director thus far, having done mainly rather low key B-grade type fair such as The Beastmaster. Really, if you looked at most of his previous projects, you probably wouldn't expect too much from the guy. But now that he's made Bubba Ho-Tep I will be keen to see what else he has in store. Actually, one thing he does have in the works is an announced prequel to Ho-Tep, to be titled Bubba Nosferatu, which already sounds quite promising.
Due to the lack of moolah, there are no actual Elvis songs in this movie, but the original score provided by Brian Tyler works perfectly well any way. It suits the peculiarity of the setting and still manages to have a bit of an Elvis style vibe to it.
I don’t think the Bubba Ho-Tep DVD is yet available for purchase in Australia. I could be wrong about that, but I checked a few of the bigger online stores and none of them had it.
|This is what happens if you hold a fart in too long. |
The version used for this review was/is the rental one. Being a rental copy, there are not many extras included. There are a heap of extras on the US retail version, so hopefully we'll eventually get the same. However, this one does have two commentary tracks- one by Cosarelli and Campbell and the other by "The King" (which is Campbell doing the whole track, in character, as Elvis). They are both well worth listening to and highly entertaining.
When (if?) Bubba Ho-Tep does reach the retail shelves I say it is worth buying. It is pretty cool to watch multiple times and notice all the little details they put into it, not to mention that it is very funny and can put you in a good mood, with all of its wonderful silliness. In the meantime, the video stores have the sucker ready to be rented, so go ahead and check it out. It is fresh, fun and chock full of Bubba goodness.
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An unusual movie. Also an unusually good movie.