What’s a Blog-a-thon? This movie exchange is a challenge, its participants have chosen films the other has not seen to watch and review.
Marcey’s criteria for Chris: Horror Films of the 2000’s
Why Marcey Chose This Film For Chris: I absolutely love the films of Don Coscarelli, I adore him. Phantasm series is one that I really enjoyed discovering, and it is great that he did direct them all. I even have a great love for Survival Quest, which is a fun little film. But for me his best and my favourite film is Bubba Ho-Tep, a really unique film that showcases Bruce Campbell and his very underrated acting talents. Basically I adore this film, and the fact that Chris has not seen it, well it is something that needs to be fixed. I might be completely heartbroken if he doesn’t like it, but I hope he does. I really love everything about this film, it is pure joy for me.
I first became aware of Bubba Ho-Tep back in 2005 when Empire magazine did a cover on the film just ahead of its Australian release, it had me interested by the films initial concept, Elvis Presley and JFK vs. a mummy. The film takes an interesting direction with the fact that rock and roll king Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) had not died and is living in a nursing home in Texas, which also houses a black JFK (Ossie Davis). Soon they discover that a mummy is stalking the halls of the nursing home and feasting off the souls of its inhabitants, both Presley and Jack, as JFK calls himself are on the hunt to stop the mummy.
The concept, based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale and adapted by the film’s director, Don Coscarelli (The Beastmaster, Phantasm and John Dies at the End) sounds fantastic on paper but on film, doesn’t live up to expectation. The film opens in typical low budget B movie fashion with dictionary definitions of Ho-Tep and Bubba, followed by a 1920’s news reel of the discovery of a Pharaohs tomb. We then meet an aged Elvis Presley who constantly thinks back on the highs and lows of his life as the king, how his family would react to the knowledge that he is alive and telling his sceptical and very sassy nurse (Ella Joyce) how he switched lives with a Elvis impersonator Sebastian Haff (also Campbell). Elvis’ only friend in the home is Jack, who believes that he is former US president John F. Kennedy and has been dyed black and hidden away by Lyndon Johnson is some bizarre cover up.
Where the film succeeds are the fantastic performances from Campbell and the late Ossie Davis who have amazing chemistry between one another mostly due to the great dialogue they share. That makes you wonder if this film would have been better had it just been about exploring the friendship between Presley and Jack, rather than throwing a mummy into the mix. This is where the film goes from interesting concept, to a kind of jumbled mess. The film fails by throwing a mummy into the story and it really doesn’t make much sense and throws the film off track to the point when you think of better ways this script could have made sense.
There’s really little more that I can say about this film other than it was a missed opportunity to explore something special with the “what if…”, in the hands of a more skilled filmmaker perhaps this could have been the case. I can understand why this film has become a cult classic, but it’s not for me, which is a shame because the relationship between Presley and Jack was so strong. The film is really a two star film but it gets an extra mark because of the great casting of the two leads and strong dialogue they shared.