Spring 2004 Edge series
Sunday, April 11, 2004 at 7:00pm
Empire Theatres, New Minas, NS
Rated 14A ·
Following its now legendary sold-out screening at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness in 2002, Bruce Campbell returns to our fair city to battle a soul munching Egyptian mummy in a skintight sequined leisure suit as the one and only King of rock ‘n’ roll in Bubba Ho-tep. Director Don Coscarelli, the man responsible for the spinning silver drill spheres of the surreal horror classic Phantasm, shines new light on the scandalous death of Elvis. What if, wanting a break from stardom, Elvis secretly selected a double to take his place? And what better place to hide than in a trailer park, posing as an impersonator of himself? However, the King’s crown is lost when the legal paperwork goes up in flames during a barbecue mishap and one gyration too many pops his hip and sends him into a coma. Sporting grey sideburns, a cancerous sore on his member, and supported by a walker, the King comes to languish alone and forgotten in the Shady Rest Convalescence Home in Mud Creek, Texas. Making matters worse, life expectancy in the home is short: blood-thirsty scarab beetles buzz in the dark corridors at night and an ancient mummy is sucking the souls from the residents. In the face of such menace, Elvis teams with a wheelchair-bound resident who believes he is John F. Kennedy, despite being black-skinned, and together the geriatric duo devise a plan to kick the ass of the Egyptian monster back to the sands from whence it came.
With a premise born in the eye of a Texas dustbowl twister ripping through the Twilight Zone, Bubba Ho-tep is an edgy blend of genres, adapted from a story by Joe R. Lansdale (whose lurid tales of drive-ins and zombie strip bars comprise the short story collection By Bizarre Hands). Thanks to the inspired casting of cult actor Bruce Campbell (hero of the The Evil Dead series and author of the irreverent look at Hollywood, If Chins Could Kill) as the geriatric King without a crown and established thespian Ossie Davis (Do The Right Thing) as JFK, Coscarelli is able to leap above the schlock pitfall of the B-movie to deliver a hip and outrageous tale of redemption. On the surface Bubba Ho-tep seems to be a light and quirky comedy, combined with spook show theatrics, but it will catch audiences off guard with genuine moments of heartfelt poignancy, singing the sad ballad of a man whose dreams seem to have evaporated. Getting old is a drag, and a dirty soul sucking skeleton just doesn’t help matters when your bladder has its own agenda. Thank God that bedpan can double as a weapon!
“One of the most cool and tantalizingly bizarre flicks of 2003, this movie isn’t afraid to try anything.” – James Berardinelli, ReelViews
“The movie deserves its advance cult status because of its antic humor and, of course, Campbell’s Elvis.” – Gene Seymour, Newsday
“It’s a credit to the actors, particularly the superb Campbell, that completely preposterous material can be made strangely touching.” – Megan Lehmann, The New York Post
“It has the damnedest ingratiating way of making us sit there and grin at its harebrained audacity, laugh at its outhouse humor, and be somewhat moved (not deeply, but somewhat) at the poignancy of these two old men and their situation.” – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times