Friday, July 29, 2016

An Aging Ash vs. An Evil Mummy, or Thoughts on Bubba Ho-Tep

 WHAT IF Elvis were still alive and hiding in a rest home in East Texas, along with JFK?  And what if the residents of said nursing home were being stalked by an ancient Egyptian mummy?  And finally, what if you cast American icon Bruce Campbell as The King of Rock and Roll?  Now you’ve gone too far, you might say, but you’d be wrong because Writer and Director Don Coscarelli of Phantasm (1972), The Beastmaster (1982) and John Dies at The End (2012) brought you the comedy-horror movie Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), and the world is so much better for it.
Bubba Ho-Tep at its heart is an optimistic reinvention of our world as we know it, a world where Elvis faked his own death and JFK survived his assassination.  Much like Elvis & Nixon (2016), this is another Elvis homage with no Elvis songs in its soundtrack, but Elvis wanted to leave his life as the King of Rock and Roll behind him, so it makes sense thematically.  Instead the movie has a blues-y western soundtrack, perfectly complimenting an aging Elvis who has to fight a mummy that can only be seen at the moment of death.
Bruce Campbell is essential to this vision, and rather than watching Elvis, the audience is always aware that they are watching Bruce Campbell doing an Elvis impression.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; Bruce Campbell’s natural sense of comedic timing supplies most if not all of the humor, and he is so well loved as a cult hero that he acts as a conduit or an ambassador to the movie.  We’re convinced we’re going to like this film before we even watch it, and fortunately for us, Bruce Campbell rarely disappoints.
Sebastian Haff, the world’s greatest Elvis impersonator, (and also Bruce Campbell in a dual-role), swaps places with The King in 1972 and actually dies five years later, while Elvis lives out the rest of his life as an Elvis impersonator, finally ending up in an East Texas rest home.  Hidden behind jowly latex and his signature sunglasses and sideburns, now gone grey, he has to walk with a walker on account of his bad hip.  The King may be down, but he’s not out, and he’s certainly not ready to go quietly into the night.
He is joined by Ossie Davis as JFK, his only friend at the rest home, hiding out from Lyndon Johnson and the surrounding conspiracy in the form of a cranky old black man.  It’s best not to ask too many questions, this nursing home also has The Lone Ranger as one of the patients.  And then there’s the mummy in the black cowboy hat and dusty lizard-skin boots, preying on the souls of the elderly, and the only two heroes standing in his way are The King of Rock and Roll and one of the greatest presidents of the 20th Century.  Fighting the mummy and its evil scarab minions reinvigorates Elvis, gives him a chance to showcase his sweet karate moves and have one last adventure. 
Watch out for the Reggie Bannister of Phantasm (1972) cameo as a nursing home administrator.



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4 volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hr diner with the best pie in town…