Bubba Ho-Tep (Collector’s Edition)
Studio: Scream Factory
Nov 07, 2016 Web Exclusive
Every now and then a movie comes along which feels tailor-made for a cult audience. Take the set-up for Bubba Ho-Tep: Elvis Presley – who didn’t die but went into hiding, and is played by Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell – lays rotting away, forgotten, in an East Texas old folks’ home. A millenia-old, cursed mummy escapes from its touring exhibit and takes up residence in the retirement housing, preying on the weak and aged – sucking their souls out from their (ahem) behinds. No one believes that the old man is the actual Elvis, and so he's certain no one’ll believe him that a 3,000-year-old mummy is draining the lifeforces of his fellow senior citizens. His only ally is former President John F. Kennedy (Ossie Davis) – or, that’s at least who his elderly housemate claims to be. These two old, probably crazy folks are the only ones who stand between an ancient, Egyptian villain and the very souls of everyone who still cares about them.
I mean, how much more offbeat can you get? Toss in how it was directed by Don Coscarelli, creator of the cult-favorite Phantasm series, and you have a movie that’s legend is set up to grow rapidly among fans of weird cinema. (And in particular, strange horror.) This is a bizarre film that absolutely lives up to its insane premise and slam-dunk cast: it’s quite funny, but also genuinely suspenseful at points. (And somehow, Bruce Campbell turns in one of his most muted performances while playing Elvis Presley – it’s a testament to his range.)
Bubba Ho-Tep still managed to take a lot of viewers by surprise – all except for fans of Joe R. Lansdale, many of whom had been patiently waiting to see the inimitable writer’s work to find its way to the silver screen. The East Texas-based author deals in twisted mysteries, alternate histories, weird westerns, and unconventional horror. (Typically, anything that would qualify as bizarre.) Bubba Ho-Tep is a great introduction to the writer, and anyone who would enjoy a vulgar, supernatural tale with Elvis and J.F.K. conspiracies mixed in should quickly seek out more of his work – there’s no one else like him. He’s been hopping genres for decades, but he brings his unique, usually foul-mouthed voice to each one he’s dipped his feet into.
This is the film’s debut on Blu-ray, which is going to give many of its diehard fans reason enough to pick it up. The feature looks (and sounds) good, and the new cover art sure does look snazzy. Extras abound, too, but Bubba Ho-Tep has already received two limited edition release DVDs from which the bulk of these carry over. A lot of these are pretty amazing, if not necessarily new – including an audio commentary by Bruce Campbell, in character, as Elvis. There are also deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews, TV spots, and a stills gallery. (It’s robust, to say the least.) What’s fresh for this edition include new interviews with Campbell, Coscarelli, and the special effects team head. The true draw here, though, will be for the Joe Lansdale fans, in the form of a new, full-length commentary track that gets into the origins of the film, the inspirations for the original short story, and the author’s career and background. (For those who follow him, he’s always been particularly forthcoming and generous about the behind-the-scenes of his works and process, but it’s great to hear him tell it here in his Texan accent.) Bubba Ho-Tep is an easy recommendation for those who enjoy their horror offbeat, fans with a Blu-ray player are given enough reason to upgrade their old edition.
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