Just went with a bunch of friends to see Bubba Ho-Tep tonight. If you haven’t seen it, lemme tells ya, AWE-friggin-SOME.
If you don’t know, (and I’m not trying to put anybody down, I didn’t know about it until three days ago) Bubba Ho-Tep is a more or less independent film about a mummy soul-sucker that is terrorizing an Old Folks’ home. I mean, what’s a better place to get souls and nobody questioning it than an Old Folks’ home?
Bruce Campbell (of Evil Dead and Army of Darkness fame) plays Elvis Presley, who exchanged his name and fame years ago with an elvis impersonator (also Campbell) who was the one we all know that kicked the bucket. The “real” Elvis has been spending his days in relative obscurity as an “impersonator” until he got old and broke his hip, landing him in Shady Acres or whatever its called. Ossie Davis (filmmaker and also of I’m Not Rappaport fame) plays the presumed dead president JFK, whom conspirators have dyed black years ago.
Both of them are the only residents who stand in the way of this ancient Egyptian cursed demon and the Texan rest home they have come to love.
So what makes this movie awesome? Well, for one, the special effects are beautiful in a cheaply done but cleverly disguised sort of way. They didn’t try to get away with anything they knew was going to look bad considering their budget. The mummy is lit to hide the prosthetics, what little computer graphics that are in the movie are not in your face!! The most expensive scenes in the movie include a five second explosion and some immolation, (always a nice touch).
Also, comedic timing. I hate to see a movie where all the comedy is in one half and then the rest is snooze city. Some romantic comedies are like that. And while I enjoy the Evil Dead movies for what they are, they cannot be called true comedies in the sense that you would almost be waiting for the next joke. Here there is an even distribution of satire and dry wit throughout. Deadpan deliveries by the entire cast, (including the mummy, for one line), and absurdly impossible scenarios make for outrageous laughter. Dick and fart jokes, as well as clever references to Cleopatra being rather loose of virtue litter the broad spectrum of comedic genius. The aged Elvis now has trademark sideburns replaced by old man mutton chops. Imagine, if you will, a ‘Right Stuff’ sort of scene where the heroes walking down the hallway towards their destiny must be aided by a walker and a wheelchair.
As Nate put it, “I think that if the movie JFK had opened with Elvis Presley talking about how to get rid of the warts on the head of his penis, I would have enjoyed it more.”
Whether or not “Elvis” or “JFK” are who they claim to be, or really old men with bad memories isn’t important. Whoever they are, they overcome odds, save the day, sacrifice themselves for the common good and do something that they hadn’t been able to do for years: recapture their youth.
So, if you have one of those little theatres with the old school 50s seats and popcorn with real butter on it, see if they are playing this CLEVER CLEVER film. If not, well I pity you. Wait for the DVD. It is destined to become a cult classic like the Evil Dead movies, so it will undoubtedly have plenty of special features. (Please don’t go to this movie expecting Evil Dead or Army of Darkness. Two totally different genres and though director Don Cascarelli had some obvious Sam Raimi influences, they are really drastically different movies. Plus, Raimi’s car isn’t in it.)
Hey, if you do get to see it and enjoy that sort of thing, keep an eye out for The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra, which is another indy film I am looking forward to seeing.