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Overall Rating
4.37

Awesome63.74%
Worth A Look: 19.3%
Just Average: 11.11%
Pretty Crappy: 1.75%
Sucks: 4.09%

10 reviews, 111 user ratings


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Bubba Ho-Tep
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by Erik Childress

"A Love Letter To The King That Screams 'Bruce Campbell for BEST ACTOR'!"
5 stars

How many "high concept" concepts can there be left in Hollywood? The formula used to be to take a big star (or three) and plop them into a plot that can be readily described in 17 words or less. Then Hollywood switched into the meet-and-greet of two films in different genres. (Comedy/horror, sci-fi/action, anime/porn, etc.) It's starting to get so ridiculous that the "high concepts" are now bouncing into one another. But if you can make it work, then you're a genius, which may seem like high praise when discussing the filmmakers of Bubba Ho-Tep, but a fitting one nevertheless.

The plot description (and damn the 17-word limit) would likely remind folks of the kind of bizarre flick that would appear on late night horror marathons or sitting in single copies of the video shelves. It's high concept in a wacky way to be sure, but doesn't quite rest on the 50/50 line of the "title-meets-title" history. Suppose that Elvis Presley, the King himself, didn't actually die and instead lies dormant in an old folks home as a 68-year old grump - a man whose true identity is (of course) met with bemused skepticism whenever he speaks up.

Then imagine that an ancient mummy has staked claim on the retirement community to steal the souls of its inhabitants. Sound crazy? But wait, there's more.

The King's best friend is a black man who claims to be John F. Kennedy. Why? Simple. After the assassination attempt, he was dyed black while his brain remains kept in the White House so his sand-crammed cranium can be controlled. Now its up to these two American icons to destroy the creature and save their final resting place from the butt-sucking bodywrap specialist out to play the role of iconoclast.

This is material that can be labeled as campy, kitschy or just plain out dumb. That slightest hint of disrespect could anger a militant group of hero worshippers who wouldn't bother to see the movie anyway. Except that this is a project molded in love. It's a glorious tribute to Elvis filled with laughter and nothing but respect for the beloved icon. And while we are paying tribute, let us thank the man responsible for giving life to the modern B-movie King - Bruce Campbell.

Fans of horror and underground cinema look to Campbell as their own King. Calls of "BRUUUCCEE" do not refer to Springsteen, but their own Boss who, along with director Sam Raimi, graced the world with the Star Wars of horror trilogies (The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness). The temptation must be infinite for an actor playing Elvis to go down the full mile of tics, gestures, movements and catch phrases. The high and lows of Elvis impersonators around the world can ham it up to an audience's delight, and several actors (from David Keith to Harvey Keitel) have put their best hip forward in the role. But to play an aging Elvis battling the undead must be like sitting down to supper with a serpent and the shiniest apple in the garden. To his credit, Campbell never lets them in the front door.

What Campbell does with this role is the pinnacle in an already underappreciated career. Once you get past the layers of makeup and the potential novelty of Campbell in the role (which only takes a few moments), the character transcends right before your eyes. If Elvis were alive and stuck in this situation, you could believe that this is how he would react to it. Skepticism then bravery. Regret then contentment. There are certainly some true Campbell moments ("Never fuck with the King!"), but through his quieter introspective moments of voiceover, he brings the audience in as a person, not a legend.

Playing his mummy-hunting partner Jack, ostensibly a mummy himself, Ossie Davis complements Campbell's performance and somehow manages a far more impossible task - by getting us to take the leap of faith that he may actually BE the former President. The absolute conviction of these actors in this bizarre material gives it the strength the audience needs to become entrenched in the preposterous - through their own perceptions of these near-mythic figures of pop culture.

Bubba Ho-Tep was directed by Don Coscarelli, who contributed two of the most classic cult films of the late 70s/early 80s with Phantasm and The Beastmaster. This is a film that he should be proud to have bookend those two. Taken from the short story by author Joe R. Lansdale, Coscarelli sticks more to the human element than the horror. The mummy only makes a few appearances before the final showdown, a giant flesh-eating beetle (reminiscent of the ones recently seen in Stephen Sommers' Mummy films) has a few grisly-yet-silly encounters. Coscarelli directs with a sure hand and a limited amount of effects, which helps to uncover the essential emotional attachment at the film's end. Special praise should also be attributed to the beautiful, touching score by Brian Tyler (Six-String Samurai, Frailty) which complements both the classic music we associate with the King but also the underlying remorse of the melodies that he'll never get to perform again.

Bubba Ho-Tep will have its core 'cult' audience, but its no reason to make the rest of the movie-loving population feel isolated. It is not an off-putting gorefest, but a high concept comedy that takes you for a fun ride and is ultimately far more touching than you may have ever thought possible. There has to be a distributor out there willing to take a chance with a theatrical release. Launch it in arthouses, let the word of mouth build. If the three Davids (Lynch, Mamet & Cronenberg) can cut profits this way, the fans of Bruce Campbell alone could generate a couple million. And why deny Campbell the chance to finally get the outright recognition that he deserves? No bullshit: if this film gets a theatrical play date by the end of 2002, Campbell WILL be on my list of the best performances of the year come awards time. If it takes until next year, Campbell WILL be on my list in 2003. Bubba Ho-Tep is a wonderful film with a bravura lead performance that doesn't deserve to leave the building until everyone is aware of it.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6101&reviewer=198
originally posted: 08/17/02 15:14:32
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/21/15 xkwdutyohth USA 3 stars
8/12/14 PAUL SHORTT LIKEABLE SPOOF, WITH A GOOD STAR PERFORMANCE 3 stars
12/28/09 Chad Dillon Cooper Elvis & JFK vs. mummy. Doesn't get much beeter than this. 5 stars
7/14/09 faiche13 fun, funny, funky 4 stars
6/22/08 bored mom A classic, and Texas has all the best weird fictionists 5 stars
3/20/08 mr.mike Has a few laughs , mostly from B.C. 3 stars
8/28/07 LtA Weird isn't funny. Weird for the sake of weird is NOT creative. 1 stars
5/14/07 Mike Koziol so much potential, a movie that didn't know where it wanted to go: comedy or more serious 2 stars
12/29/06 AJ Muller Story by the Texas Mojo Master done perfect by Coscarelli; Elvis by Campbell even better. 5 stars
11/30/06 kevin haile boring! 2 stars
11/02/06 Hauzy love Bruce Campbell but this just blew me away!! 5 stars
8/19/06 zaw Wow! 5 stars
8/03/06 Agent Sands Really funny premise, but very forgettable. 3 stars
4/23/06 Annie Treat yourself to a great little movie with lots of laughs! 5 stars
4/20/06 Becky Funny, great music. Bruce when Sebastain first meets Elvis= priceless 5 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Hilarious. 3 stars
9/30/05 matt good, but could have been better 4 stars
9/08/05 Mike This was a awesome moive, I never laughted so hard before. 5 stars
8/17/05 ES What a great idea, silly yet excellently done 4 stars
8/08/05 C. Fidance I absolutely love this movie; Bruce and Ossie are terrific! 5 stars
7/23/05 Reverse_Bear-Trap_101_"SAW" Good... But, not great! 3 stars
6/14/05 DM So gleefully bizarre it's almost touching. The fact that it's funny doesn't hurt either. 4 stars
5/28/05 Gary Bruce is great, but everything else was disappointing. Saw in a theatre. 2 stars
4/20/05 Dan Fun cult film, especially for Bruce Campbell fans 4 stars
4/16/05 Cary Gordon Builds brilliant, 5 stars
4/04/05 Eugene Mortensen ok if you like camp strange films 3 stars
4/01/05 Tom Benton Clever, very funny horror-comedy; Campbell and Davis are terrific. 5 stars
3/24/05 malcontent strictly for Coscarelli and Campbell lovers 3 stars
3/23/05 erebus45 Charming, engaging and Very, very well done 5 stars
3/14/05 brody horan the man must only have one nut snd be 13 years old 5 stars
3/08/05 LarryV Nice little B-flick. Ossie Davis and Bruce C. rock. 4 stars
3/04/05 Sam Eskenazi not for the unintelligent 4 stars
3/02/05 HORAN THE MAN!!!!! ELVIS CAN SUCK MY LEFT NUT!! 1 stars
2/06/05 Jeff Anderson THIS IS THE BRUCE CAMPBELL FILM TO REMEMBER & DON COSCARELLI'S AS WELL! TRULY GREAT!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/11/04 Phil M. Aficionado Campy, innovative labor of love; total fun; Bruce/Ossie just plain fabulous 5 stars
11/24/04 Jason If Brian Mckay likes this movie I don't trust any other review he does this movie sucks ass 1 stars
10/27/04 Raven nothing happens in this movie at all NOTHING, its a borefest with some ok characterization 1 stars
9/08/04 Otto Schmidt This movie is the best drama-horror-comedy I have ever seen :) 5 stars
8/30/04 Matthieu very NICE, ORIGINAL story, not a girl and a boy who makes love at the end 5 stars
8/27/04 Mike Stanbridge Hope they find the funds to make the prequels! 5 stars
8/22/04 Samuel Great, from beginning to end! 5 stars
7/29/04 American Slasher Goddess One of the best in the genre, that I've seen in a long time. 5 stars
7/24/04 Drew-P Great fun. I even thought the beetles did a nice job of acting. 4 stars
7/23/04 Lord Durvok 2 "NOBODY f**ks with the king!" 5 stars
7/19/04 N. Christopher Bell This movie sucks. And I'm a Bruce Campbell fan (actual member of the fanclub). 1 stars
7/19/04 Jessica Gill If you remember that it's supposed to be campy, you'll love it. 4 stars
7/16/04 Uncle Phucker Fucking genius! Unique and fun film. Great fun and actors. 5 stars
7/11/04 Jim Delivers laughs and a few genuine scares. Campbell & Davis both excellent. 4 stars
6/19/04 Jean Funny, crazy, bruce & elvis, no need to say more. 4 stars
6/11/04 Tony Merlocco Loved it! VERY FUNNY! 5 stars
6/11/04 Wolf Slightly overrated, but good acting all around. Musical score + Ossie were awesome. 3 stars
6/10/04 DodoLurker Tremendous effort by the actors, well-shot, just terrific 5 stars
6/10/04 Jack Bourbon It was a sebaceous cyst 5 stars
6/09/04 othree Elvis' character and dialog was the keeper 4 stars
6/07/04 tatum Original, hilarious, touching, loved it 5 stars
6/01/04 Turtle If an Elvis were to record a song to describe this film, it would be, "I'm All Fucked-Up." 4 stars
5/31/04 maggie imaginative-interesting 4 stars
5/27/04 A F Elvis, black JFK, Mummy, how can you go wrong? Who thinks this shit up? Genius, Pure Genius 5 stars
5/26/04 fixer Great fun... What more could you want? 5 stars
5/26/04 bigmomma its kinda dumb 3 stars
5/14/04 Lord Durvok 2 The fact that Bruce didn't win "Best Actor" for the year shows that there is no justice. 5 stars
5/10/04 Morally Sound Freaking hillarious! Bruce Campell IS Elvis! The part with the graffiti is so funny! 5 stars
5/02/04 DarthFredo excellent movie, very amusing 5 stars
4/11/04 Peter A great film that deals with old age and life in general 5 stars
3/18/04 Cary Gordon A bit slower than I expected in parts but still a really fun watch. 5 stars
3/09/04 Caiphn Finally got to see it! Drags in parts, Bruce as Elvis is top-notch. 4 stars
1/14/04 Betty White Ossie Davis is wonderful is this unique horror flick. 5 stars
1/09/04 AC No tantamount asskicking has ever been displyed. 5 stars
1/08/04 Kara Excellent!!!!! -- except for the final minute 5 stars
12/09/03 JJMAN FAN-Fucking-TASTIC! It's ok Barry, this movie wasn't made for morons without a clue. 5 stars
12/08/03 Dan Davis Excellent, ball-buster for sure!! 5 stars
12/06/03 Punk_Ass This is one great movie. Very funny, yet touching. barry, you are a fucking idiot. 5 stars
12/04/03 Andrew Callaway Most awesome movie ever? Yes. Better than Evil Dead II. See it NOW! 5 stars
12/01/03 Barry Weiner The voice-over is a cop-out. Don't tell me, show me. 1 stars
11/28/03 john oh boy..what a great surprise this movie is...honest, funny, endearing and very moving 5 stars
11/09/03 Lord Jiggy Touching, moving, surprising...in spite of cheesy horror and bedpan humor. 5 stars
10/26/03 Jen hilarious and yet strangely touching 5 stars
10/22/03 Lord Durvok II Great acting and story. At first I thought, "No way in hell is Bruce gonna pull this off!" 5 stars
10/18/03 Kyle FUCKING INCREDIBLE. 5 stars
10/16/03 Jaded I love Bruce and I saw this with a very open mind but it was a big snooze. Not funny. 3 stars
10/15/03 Robbie This was not written by Coscarelli, but adapted from the short by Joe R Lansdale 5 stars
10/14/03 Nancy Cary Truly original. Great acting. 5 stars
10/11/03 nick2k speaking from a non-fanboy stance...i must say this was damn good AND hella funny! 5 stars
10/06/03 Ryan Bruce Campbell IS Elvis. 5 stars
10/06/03 Erik Van Sant You too will want a growth on the end of your schlong...God bless you, Bruce Campbell. 5 stars
10/06/03 Titus I've been waiting for this forever, and it was worth it. GO! 5 stars
9/26/03 Jon This movie is retardedly good! 5 stars
9/25/03 John That was fantastic! Don't miss that movie!!!! 5 stars
9/22/03 The F-Bomb BRUCE CAMPBELL IS THE MESSIAH!!! ASH IS GOD!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/19/03 Lee Bubba Ho-Tep kicked all kinds of boo-tay! 5 stars
7/29/03 Sunnyd The film is great and we hope it gains the presentation it deserves!! 5 stars
7/11/03 Mike Smith Starts in Portland Oregon September 19th. www.bubbahotep.com 5 stars
7/05/03 Darren I drove 2 hours, waited in line 4 hours, got lucky with tickets and saw bruce as the king. 5 stars
6/16/03 matthew fuck 1 stars
5/30/03 Jonathan Stokes (Stokesy) Bruce is better that ever. Its about time he takes the leading over again since Evil Dead 5 stars
5/19/03 Wallace this was one of the best films i've ever seen, bruce is the man 5 stars
4/30/03 I think "steve" is my dad I thought it was very funny and a good mummy movie. 5 stars
4/29/03 Pete A wee bit of class on film 5 stars
3/31/03 Will awesome, awesome movie 5 stars
3/27/03 Mike Smith Incredible flick. See it if you can. 5 stars
3/24/03 Tom like it 3 stars
3/23/03 Goofy Maxwell Saw Bruce@E. Lansing Film Fest.: Presley estate makin' Don do the Ho-tep 2step. (inbreds!) 5 stars
3/12/03 Mister Bigglesworth Hollywood's distrubution sucks.(inbreds!) Give us damn good dvd and watch the sales soar! 5 stars
12/02/02 jason decent but slow. 3 stars
11/19/02 mj Saw it at Toronto. Amazing. Funny, yet surprisingly emotional. 5 stars
10/19/02 Marc Morrison It's like an introspective Evil Dead 4 5 stars
10/04/02 steve This film needs Distribution!!! 5 stars
10/03/02 XH It Rocks! 5 stars
9/15/02 jon solita Saw it at Flashback Weekend in Chicago. Great film, and has an unexpected emotional weight. 5 stars
9/10/02 will saw it at toronto film festival, it was excellent! 5 stars
8/30/02 E. H. Bennett Visually exciting, touching story, great acting all around. Please sell it soon, Don! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-Sep-2003 (R)
  DVD: 25-May-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  24-Feb-2005




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