Eye For Film >> Movies >> Bubba Ho-tep (2002) Film Review
Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald
There's something delightfully infectious about Bubba Ho-tep, an entertaining B-movie, starring Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead series), as an aging, grouchy Elvis in a South Texas retirement home. Surely not THE Elvis, I hear you cry... Yep, him, and, as his buddy in crime, the real John "Jack" F. Kennedy, played by Ossie Davis.
That's one of the movie's most endearing qualities. We know Campbell doesn't look like Elvis, doesn't sound or act much like Elvis - he kind of just does his own thing. Davis is so unlike JFK and yet we accept him, just as they do each other. Oh, and there's a soul-sucking mummy on the loose in the neighbourhood.
If this doesn't sound like a good set up for a goofy movie, then stop reading and head on to the next review. Bubba Ho-tep is narrated by Elvis in voiceover, discussing fame, fortune and a cancerous male appendage, but the real joy is letting the script speak for itself, with Campbell and Davis spitting out quotables one after another. It's gleefully performed and directed, with enviable zest and energy, perhaps a little too underbudgeted to really take off.
I was surprised that halfway through I wasn't aware of time passing. The comedy is broad, mixing satire and silliness in equal proportions, taking aim at most of the obvious targets and quite a few we wouldn't think of.
Much of the conversation involves bodily functions. Frequently it also revolves around the soul-sucker, who needs to consume a lot of life force to stay alive and the rest-home inhabitants don't provide much after digestion and subsequent excretion.
Elvis, displaying a little of Ash from Evil Dead, begins to realise that only he and JFK can save the day.
"Mr. Kennedy, ask not what your rest home can do for you, but what you can do for your rest home."
JFK complains bitterly that Elvis is stealing his best lines and, after an attack by Ho-tep, angrily thinks it's another assassination attempt.
"At first, I thought it was Lyndon Johnson."
"Lyndon Johnson is dead."
"Shit, that ain't gonna stop him!"
In the end, the film doesn't quite work as a horror movie; the undead mummy isn't much of a villain. But there's some nice imagery that provides a jolt or two and the score works in the film's favour, with electric guitar and atmospheric riffs.
This is a slight, guaranteed-to-entertain, low-budget horror comedy, with odd characters, surreal situations and inventiveness. Definitely worth an hour and a half of your time.Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2004