One doesn’t usually hear of the Bubba Ho-Tep movie, unless one is a really big fan of the star of such a film, cult and B-movie actor, Bruce “The Chin” Campbell. There’s just no way this sort of title makes it into any sort of mainstream because it is a great example of weird, quirky, and risky film-making. The type that seems to have attracted Mister Campbell for most of his career.
Nevertheless, even the most die-hard of Bruce Campbell fans will know to keep their expectations low as to the overall movie, when you consider Bruce’s entire bibliography. While he might kick ass and take names, and it’s always a pleasure to see him on-screen, the movie itself can still suck. However, by the end of my watch-through of the Bubba Ho-Tep movie, I realized that it somehow managed to lift itself from a state of bland mediocrity – in spite of Bruce Campbell – into something completely different.
The Bubba Ho-Tep Movie is the “Elvis is still alive” conspiracy nobody knows
The movie starts at a nursing home in Mud Creek, Texas, your average, run of the mill home for old people, but with a couple of twists. This is where we find an old and partly decrepit, but still LIVING, Elvis. He’s pretty much bed-bound because of a broken hip, where he spends most of the time lamenting the folly of his younger years and carefully pondering the unusual growth on his pecker – a guy must have his priorities.
This setup is quite nonsensical indeed, thankfully a nicely timed flashback gives us the low-down and how and why Elvis is not only still alive, but is now residing in a nursing home. It turns out, everybody in the nursing home thinks he’s an Elvis impersonator who just went off the rails in his old age – which he might still be. The end of the movie is classy enough to keep this rather ambiguous, so his story could also be real, he could in fact still be The King.
The movie’s story kicks off when a resident mysteriously dies and Elvis is attacked by one of the worst-looking animatronics-giant-beetle that has ever been captured on film – it’s wonderful. Then we’re off to a rather slow-paced journey of discovery and adventure. Slow paced because our protagonists are senior citizens with various mobility issues.
As a result of his investigation, Elvis finds out that the perpetrator is in fact an Egyptian mummy with a penchant for sucking the souls of old people… through their asses… yup, you can make a double take, you read that right, through their asses.
But this is no one-man show – maybe not exactly Elvis-like, now that I think about it – The King has a great aide in his crusade to protect the souls of senior citizens. His partner is none other than JFK himself. He is also still living, and coincidentally enough he’s in that very same nursing home…oh yeah, and it also happens that he’s black.
This has to be one of the strangest pairings in movie history by far, and it works wonderfully, mostly thanks to the gusto with which the actors take to their characters.
The movie itself also has a very trippy feel to it, starting with the 1900’s German newsreel that kicks off the movie, continuing with the very time-lapse way in which Elvis sees reality sometimes and the general feeling of sleepy sluggishness.
I imagine I have made it very clear that this is very unlike the Evil Dead movies. I went into the Bubba Ho-Tep movie to see Bruce at his craft, but the movie managed to very pleasantly surprise me with how weird it is. It’s a definite must-see for any Bruce Campbell fan out there who hasn’t seen it yet.
In case that’s not enough to sell you on it, keep it in mind next time you’re in the mood to watch something weird, entertaining, slow and quiet, Bubba Ho-Tep might just surprise you.
And since I just name-dropped the Evil Dead movies, you should know that they’re coming back this Halloween, in the shape of a TV show: Ash vs. Evil Dead – which I’ll make sure to talk to you about after a few episodes air.
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