Bubba Ho-Tep review by The Grim Ringler

Friends, how on earth can you not love a film that pits Elvis ‘the pelvis’ Presley against a soul-sucking mummy? How? How can you do it? Well, you can’t, that’s all there is to it. Bubba Ho-Tep is the newest film from director Don Coscarelli, who, for the past twenty some years has been known only as the guy behind the Phantasm movies, but he is finally out of the shadow of the ball with his newest film, and with the help of a genre fave and a movie veteran, he has an instant cult classic on his hands.

Elvis is old. Very old. And worse than that he has a mysterious growth on the end of his inactive penis, which he has to have cleaned regularly, to his embarrassment. He has fallen from the King to merely another old man with delusions of grandeur. Having long ago gotten tired of the drugs, the mediocrity, and his feelings of indentured servitude, Elvis (played brilliantly by cult fave Bruce Campbell) gave up the mantle of the King to a poor schlub of an Elvis impersonator and the two swapped their lives even-steven and Elvis can now live out his days as a mere impersonator of himself. And suddenly he has fun again, he is still young-ish, still can rock the ladies every night from the stage, and if he wants to get his life back he has an ironclad agreement. Sadly though, Elvis loses the agreement in a freak barbecue fire and loses his youth when he busts his hip on stage, something that lands him unceremoniously into a rest home for the last of his days. Flash forward to today, Elvis is old, tired, bitter, and has a problem with his little king, and when his roommate dies suddenly and without even as much as a sigh from the staff or his daughter, Elvis has had enough. He’s ready to die. But just as Elvis is ready to give up on the world he is enlisted to serve his country, and rest home, one last time. None other than president John F. Kennedy (played by the wonderful Ossie Davis), who has been hiding out in the same rest home as Elvis, dyed black after his assassination (attempt) and living with a small bag of sand where his missing brain matter used to be. It seems that in this delightfully dark rest home, a place where the elderly are more like the living dead than anything else, one going so far as to steal another woman’s glasses as she lay prone in an iron lung, there is a predator feeding off the dead. And a most unlikely predator at that. A mummy is stalking the halls of this rest home in search of weak and prone victims to feed off of in order that it might extend its life a little longer. And kids, the sucking of said souls, is not a pretty sight as Mr. Mummy takes them through whatever orifice he can, devouring and depositing the leftovers in the toilet like so much fast-food. Elvis doesn’t take any of this seriously but is certainly intrigued after a run-in with a giant scarab, but that all changes when he himself is faced with the mummy, all gussied up in cowboy gear and full after sucking on some souls. And it’s here when the King meets, well, the, well, he isn’t a king so my joke doesn’t work, but they meet and in that moment Elvis sees the life of the mummy and what happened to him, and now it’s personal. No damn mummy comes into Elvis’ rest home and sucks the souls of his friends. No way man. So Elvis and JFK gather their battle gear (sequined jumper included) and lay their trap in the hopes of destroying this misanthropic mummy’s madness.

If you are not willing to check your brain at the door and buy into this silly horror-comedy romp then well, my words are wasted on you. There is nothing deep, or life affirming here. This is not meant to be more than it is – a very silly movie that could never happen outside of the head of author Joe R. Landsdale, from whose short story this comes. What you have here are two great character actors having a ball playing it broad in a film that is so preposterous that it works. And works wonderfully. I am sure a lot of people will hate this film and decry it as pointless nonsense and ya know what, they’d be right. And thank god. Not ever film has to try to change the world. Movies were meant as entertainment. As brief diversions to keep us entertained for a bit. And that’s what this does. It’s silly, it’s weird, it’s creepy, and, perhaps oddly enough, it has a heart as Elvis and JFK are not men proud of all they did, but that are trying to do the best they can.

This will never be considered a great film but it is a very good, very fun film. It’s nice to see Campbell being able to stretch a bit as an actor (though his best film may be a very little seen French comedy he did which is great), and I applaud him for taking this role and not making it a parody but rather making it an homage to one of the biggest characters ever created. If you love a good, weird movie, and heck, especially if you always wanted to see Elvis and JFK take on a mummy, well friend, you’ve found the cure to your ills.


8 out of 10 Jackasses
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