BUBBA HO-TEP Review
Published at: June 18, 2002, 9:13 a.m. CST by headgeek
It has been nearly 10 years since the last real Bruce Campbell movie.
1993 was the glorious year you saw BRUCE CAMPBELL VS ARMY OF DARKNESS aka EVIL DEAD 3. Since that glorious day that too few of us saw in 93 we BRUCE-fans have been forced to gnaw upon the rancid bones of CONGO, ESCAPE FROM L.A., McHALE’S NAVY, THE LOVE BUG and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY for the prayer of consumable Campbell coolness. We caught flashing glimpses in SPIDER-MAN and THE MAJESTIC, but nothing even approaching a meal.
Some of us sought to quench the thirst for the mighty Bruce in his magnificent book, IF CHINS COULD KILL, and that was a mighty good swab of non-visual Campbell-ness. Some of us went to television for his work on BRISCO COUNTY only to see our love crushed by an evil network. Some went to XENA and JACK OF ALL TRADES… but alas those shows are all gone.
When was the last time you had a heaping helpin’ of R-rated manliness from the man that gives us all some sugar baby? Nearly 10 years ago.
That’s right in the last millennia.
Folks… I have found your goddamn asskicking Bruce Campbell film. That film that only a cult movie god like Bruce Campbell could star in. We all know he’d like us to Hail to the King, well this time he plays the King, the fallen king and the return of the king.
Quint’s been giving you behind the scenes info on BUBBA HO-TEP, but man… The finished project is where the coolness lies.
BUBBA HO-TEP is a wall to wall showcase of Bruce Campbell Goodness. This is, bar-none the funniest Bruce Campbell movie to date. You literally might very well piss yourself laughing at his portrayal of the ancient Elvis Presley, you might even well up a tear or two as well. Bruce is fantastic in this movie.
As you probably already know, BUBBA HO-TEP is the story about Elvis Presley, who is alive and living in a West Texas Retirement Community in anonymity. I’m not gonna tell ya how the King of Rock-n-Roll wound up there, suffice to say shit like this happens all the time, you just have go with what life throws ya, and sometimes life throws ya in a West Texas Retirement Home with a pus spewing cancerous growth on your pecker and an eager beaver shot of a woman that finds you sadly amusing. Yup, life can be tough when the only person that will listen to you is a black man claiming to be the dyed disguised John F Kennedy with a sandbag for a missing brain played brilliantly by Ossie Davis.
Oh, and let us not forget the man known as Kemosabe played brilliantly by Larry Pennell, whom you cool folks in the crowd will know played Dash Riprock from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES back in the sixties or as Major Thomas in the great B-horror film THE SPACE CHILDREN! Kemosabe is an old man blessed with the old age delusion that he is the spastic remains of the Lone Ranger. He rules.
Then there is the Retirement Home manager played with appropriate disdain and disaffection by Reggie “We Gotta Stomp The Shit Outta That Tall Dude!” Bannister.
Which means… this movie must be directed by Don Coscarelli! Now, I’m nowhere near as friendly with Don as Quint here at the site is. I’ve met Don a couple of times and he seems a bit shy. We’ve never really had a great conversation, simply because we’ve never sat down to have one. I am a fan of the PHANTASM series, but I’ve only recently become one when the big Phantasm event happened at the Alamo Drafthouse back a year or so ago. Maybe two years back.
Now Don is a master of low-budget filmmaking, making a film that looks completely like a studio’s shiny glossy film, but with a soul, humor, with and sense of fun that is often lacking in the soulless, witless, humorless, funless dreck that sometimes oozes out of there.
Here, watching a eighty-some-odd year old Elvis teaming up with a delusional Jack Kennedy to fight some ass-sucking mummy in cowboy fashions… Well, movies don’t get much more fun, crazy, wild and joyful than this one.
This is exactly the sort of film we used to see get released from NEW LINE or A.I.P. The sort of film we wish we saw come out of DIMENSION, but sadly… Too often today genre product from those companies often feel exactly like GENRE PRODUCT, as opposed to being the people who would release the next EVIL DEAD 2 or the next BRAIN DEAD (aka DEAD ALIVE).
This movie features excellent make-up by KNB, Bruce’s old age make-up on Elvis is awesome. Also, it is very nice to see a mummy that is all make-up! Actually, the great thing is the total lack of any CGI. I mean, DOG SOLDIERS and this one… NO CGI! Does that not just give you a smile across that cynical face of yours?
The score by Brian “Six String Samurai” Tyler is perfect for ‘King-ly’ heroics. I’ve been waiting for Brian to do more work and earlier this year when I heard his work in the wonderful genre film FRAILTY, I was delighted. Now here on BUBBA HO-TEP he again proves why I adored his work so long ago with SIX STRING SAMURAI.
Now does this movie not have flaws?
Well I’ve seen the film twice now. Upon first viewing I loved almost the whole thing in the same way that I love BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and ARMY OF DARKNESS. That same sort of ‘cooooooooool’ flavor coming from the movie, except that I felt the last few minutes of the film let me down a beat or two instead of just giving me that “HOLY SHIT!” feeling. Well, upon second viewing, those problems went away completely. I would still love a gigantic production number at the end, but this isn’t that movie. This is a movie that is more about watching how we want to remember Elvis… which is actually a bit of a sad funny wonderful thing.
This movie is strangely affecting at the same time it is hilarious. The internal monologues that Bruce gives Elvis are all at once tragically self-aware, while also being hilarious. This is really a tour de force of Bruce’s comedic and dramatic talents in the B-movie world that he rules from up on high!
This audience rocked the houses at CineVegas! There was plenty of doubled over laughing, and many scenes that you couldn’t hear the dialogue because the laughter was so loud. This is a cult movie hit… This is the movie that the legion of Bruce lovers that buy his action figures and the endless editions of EVIL DEAD titles have been waiting for. Well… kinda, they didn’t know this was coming, and they have been specifically waiting for EVIL DEAD IV, but I guarantee they’ll love this one, because this is the king baby. Hail to the King baby!