November 7, 2016

Blu-ray Review: Bubba Ho-Tep (2003)
(aka Hail To The Kings.)
Release Date: October 10th, 2003.
Country: USA
Rating: R
Written by: Joe R. Lansdale and Don Coscarelli.
Directed by: Don Coscarelli.
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, and Heidi Marnhout.

"I felt my pecker flutter once, like a pigeon havin' a heart attack."

From the moment that Bruce Campbell said those words, we knew that we were in for something special with Bubba Ho-Tep.

We originally went to see this movie when it was in theaters (yes, way back in 2003), because Bruce Campbell was in it, which was enough for us, but we weren't prepared for how good this movie was going to be. All these years later, it still ranks as one of our all-time faves.

If you've seen it, you know what we're talking about. If you haven't, then read on, and make a plan to rectify that woeful wrong asap.

*This review was originally posted in 2015, but we've brought it back to the top to coincide with the new Bubba Ho-Tep Blu-ray release, because it's a really special flick that deserves the love. 

We hesitate to break down the plot for this movie, because the more that you know about it, the dumber it sounds, and the less likely it is that you'll give it the chance that it deserves. So read our brief synopsis if you like, or better yet, don't read it at all and just go find a copy of the movie and watch it.

Bubba Ho-Tep is the story of an aging Elvis Presley who is spending his decrepit last days in the Shady Rest nursing home, with nothing but a pus-filled growth on his penis to his name. He has one friend named Jack, who it turns out is actually JFK; after his assassination attempt, Lyndon Johnson had him dyed black, had a bag of sand implanted in his head, and then dumped him off at the nursing home.

When a 4000-year-old mummy (aptly nicknamed Bubba Ho-Tep) starts killing off the elderly residents of the Shady Rest by sucking their souls out of their assholes, Elvis and JFK set out to stop the soul-sucking bastard, because fuck him.

I know, that all sounds pretty insane. Because it is.

The real heart of this movie lies in its exploration of what it means to grow old, and more importantly, to be forgotten. Elvis, for his part, feels useless and is full of little more than regret. He wishes he could see his daughter one more time and try to make things right, but he knows that won't ever happen. He's essentially laying in bed with a growth on his dick, waiting to die. This is a story that is all too common with the elderly, as life just has a way of passing them (and eventually us) by.

The way that Don Coscarelli (and Joe R. Lansdale, in his short story), addressed this issue amidst the movie's crazier elements, made it into one of the most different and compelling experiences that we've ever had in a theater. Two old men who are at the end of their lives, standing up and fighting a monster for the very souls of their friends was a beautiful thing to watch.

Bruce Campbell said it best when he called Bubba Ho-Tep a "Redemptive Elvis-Mummy Picture, in that order." Because that's exactly what it is.

We don't really need to tell you how awesome Bruce is, because you already know that. Instead, can we say how great Ossie Davis was in this movie? A WWII Veteran, he starred in over 100 projects during his career which spanned six decades; he was a social rights activist back when it was a dangerous thing to be; and he delivered the eulogy at Malcom X's funeral... and that's just some of what made him so great as both a talent, and a man.

Ossie Davis died in 2005, making Bubba-Ho-Tep one of the last things he ever starred in. It would be disingenuous of us to say that it was his best work, or his most poignant, but it was honest and heartfelt, much like he was throughout his life. He was a true classic if there ever was one.

That damn song, All Is Well... it made us feel feelings that we weren't ready to feel!

The people who see this movie and say "It was stupid" or "Nothing happened" make us feel sad for humanity.

Keep swimming in the shallow end, kids.

This movie is not much on the gore, although a few scarabs get squashed, and there are some deaths.

No, but there was a nice ass shot, and some therapeutic pecker rubbing.

Bruce Campbell is the man, and Ossie Davis was true classic, in every sense of the word.

If the words Underrated Gem ever applied to any Genre movie, it's surely Bubba Ho-Tep. As crazy as the plot sounds (and is), and as funny as the movie can be, this is really a sentimental drama about the pains of growing old, and learning to find purpose again. Plus, it has a mummy who sucks people's souls out through their assholes, so, there's that.

Yeah, Bubba Ho-Tep is an odd one for sure, but it's a fantastic one as well, and if you've never seen it, you really need to.


Bubba Ho-Tep is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

It's not easy finding pictures of Heidi Marnhout online, so this is all you get!

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