Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bubba Ho-Tep

Sometimes films pass you by for no reason at all. Bubba Ho-Tep is one such. I am a massive fan of the Phantasm films and thought that Beastmaster from the same director was pretty cool as well, so I have no idea why I didn't catch up with this gem sooner ... The premise of the film is somewhat strange: Elvis Presley is alive and well and living in a rest home suffering from a fractured pelvis and an infected pecker. Seems that The King swapped places with an Elvis tribute act many years ago, and it was the tribute act (Sebastian Haff) who allegedly died on the loo with cheeseburger in hand, while the real King continued to perform as Haff until he broke his pelvis in a fall from a stage, and went into a coma. Also in the rest home is John F Kennedy - not dead at all from a bullet taken in November 1963, but living as a black man (he was dyed!) with a sack of sand in his skull. There are a series of deaths at the home, and Elvis and JFK realise that there's an ancient Egyptian soul-sucking mummy on the loose, and only they can bring him down before he sucks their souls right out of their own ass-holes! It's a mind bending concept, but the direction and performances are so spot on that it is nothing but enjoyable. Bruce Campbell as Elvis is a revelation. He is spot on as the aged crooner, with his mannerisms and voice down pat. It's a brilliant performance, and a shame that it didn't garner more widespread acclaim at the time. Ossie Davis as JFK is also superb - delivering the revelation that they dyed him black with a straight face. The whole thing is played completely straight and this enhances the film. It's a fun romp through horror, played by folks who know just how to pitch it all. The effects veer from the slightly naff - the scenes with the giant scarab bug reminded me a lot of the similarly naff giant fly sequences from Phantasm - to the superb - Bubba Ho-Tep's appearances in the rest home are creepy and well developed. He's one scary mummy! I really appreciated the conceit of the hierogyphic graffiti on the toilet wall, and also that when Ho-Tep spoke, you saw the pictograms appear from is mouth before they are translated on screen - the images match what is said as well, and these alone are very funny. I'd recommend this film to anyone who hasn't seen it. It contains enough surreal touchpoints for people who are not that into horror, while the frightening elements are enough to keep a horror fan happy as well. Very enjoyable indeed.

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