Silver Sphere Corporation
Written and directed by Don
Coscarelli, based on
the short story by John R. Lansdale
Produced by Jason R. Savage and Don Coscarelli
Starring Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Reggie Bannister,
Ella Joyce and Heidi Marnhout
Now playing at the Tower
(out of four)
Bruce Campbell in the role he was born to play!
Saying that now, it
seems pretty damn obvious. If you’ve ever seen
Bruce Campbell or any of his classic cult films such
as the “Evil
Dead” trilogy, composed of “The Evil
Dead,” “Evil Dead 2” and “Army
of Darkness” (if you haven’t seen ’em,
kill yourself now), you could see that he couldn’t
play anything but the King of Rock and Roll. With
his B-movie good looks (and résumé)
and the most famous chin in film-geek history,
Campbell was a shoo-in to play Elvis Presley. I
actually met the man once, and somewhere in this
colossal universe of ours is a picture of me and
the future/ former King of Rock and Roll in a Borders
In “Bubba Ho-tep,” Elvis Presley is alive
and well and living in an East Texas rest home called
Shady Rest. His day is composed of dignity-destroying
acts like having the end of his cancerous penis rubbed
with some unknown goo by the head nurse (character
actress Ella Joyce) and watching his roommates die
off one after another. In the meantime, he thinks
about the glory days of his life as the King and
how he once traded all that away for a simple life
and friends who wouldn’t stab him in the back.
But something is rotten in the state of Shady Rest
as the King begins to receive strange visions of
some kind of Egyptian spirit in boots and a Stetson.
His fellow rest home residents begin to drop off
a little more often than usual. With the help of
the former (and black—“They dyed me this
color!”) John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis), Elvis
gets to the bottom of the mysterious soul-sucking
mummy. It’s a bit like Scooby-Doo meets every
conspiracy nuts’ wet dream.
The plot of the movie may sound completely ridiculous
and believe me, it is, but director Don Coscarelli,
director of the “Phantasm” film series
and creator of Beastmaster, takes the ridiculous
plot seriously. So do the actors, treating their
characters with dignity and respect. As silly as
it seems, the filmmakers make the audience feel like
this unlikely scenario really could take place, and
that it really is the King and the president battling
evil on the silver screen.
Based on the Bram Stoker Award (horror story equivalent
of the PEN/Faulkner Award)-nominated short story
by John R. Lansdale, “Bubba Ho-tep” is
a hysterical trip into the ultimate “what if” tale.
Lansdale and Coscarelli have dug deep into the lives
of the characters and have brought a sense of reality
into the fantastic world the characters inhabit.
“I know you never liked me,” JFK says when
trying to explain the mummy’s curse to Elvis, “but
I need you to believe me.”
The movie isn’t perfect, of course. I mean,
it’s no “Army of Darkness.” The
film’s climax is a bit disappointing and the
humor differentiates between genius and cheeseball.
Of course, what’s a Bruce Campbell movie with
a little cheese thrown in for good measure? I’d
almost be disappointed if I didn’t groan once
or twice during his films.
“Bubba Ho-tep” is proof positive that you
don’t need a budget to make an intriguing and
hilarious film. You do, however, need a wonderful script
and an exceptionally talented cast.
Unfortunately, Big Hollywood doesn’t want us
to believe that, and that’s why jaw-droppingly
good films like “Bubba Ho-tep” that use
minimal computer effects and have lines like “Don’t
ever, ever, fuck with the King!” only get seven
prints made while cinematic jerk-off films like “Torque” are
shown in cinemas from coast to coast. That’s
why I’m asking you, yes you, to go see “Bubba
Ho-tep” as your patriotic duty. It’s
what the King would have wanted.