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'Bubba Ho-tep' Worth the Rent

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Bradly Gill
Arts & Entertainment Editor 

   Elvis lives.

   Well, at least according to the plot of "Bubba Ho-tep." The film, which deals out equal measures of horror and comedy, begins with the king (Bruce Campbell) bedridden and wasting away his remaining years in an East Texas rest home. Thankfully, a series of events unfold that motivate Elvis out of his stagnant lifestyle and force him to once again TCB.

   "Bubba Ho-tep" is the kind of movie that sits on the rental shelf for years collecting dust, while people are busy renting the latest Hollywood blockbuster. The sheer absurdity of the premise is enough to turn most people away. Granted, Elvis and JFK (Ossie Davis) living in an old-folks home under attack by a mummy doesn't exactly sound like a brilliant script. However, the film, based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale, is surprisingly cerebral. On the surface it's your basic horror film with a mixture of buddy flick thrown in for spice. Delving deeper, you see the film is really about the state of the elderly in America and how people are thrown away like garbage, forced to spend their twilight years being degraded and treated like children.

   Bruce Campbell of "Evil Dead" fame is dead on as Elvis. He brings all of his well-known campy humor along with him. The DVD even contains an audio commentary by Campbell as the King. Not to be outdone, Ossie Davis delivers an oddly poignant performance as John F. Kennedy (yeah, the dead white president). It's a credit to Davis that he can pull off all his lines with a straight face; he actually makes you believe he could be JFK. The two eventually team up to defend their home against an evil soul-sucking mummy that preys on the residents. The film culminates in a climactic battle involving wheelchairs, fire and Elvis's walker.

   Director Don Coscarelli is best known for his work on the cult horror film "Phantasm," and the '80s fantasy "Beastmaster." "Bubba Ho-tep" is honestly the best film Coscarelli has made in 20 years. It even gives the legendary "Phantasm" a run for its money, while blowing "Beastmaster" out of the water.  

   Even though the movie is focused on Elvis, don't expect Campbell to be crooning any of the King's classics. The movie was made on about 1 percent of the budget of an average Hollywood movie. Licensing one of Elvis's songs would have taken up half the budget. Still, Campbell's performance is so superb that the absence of Elvis's music is negligible.  

   "Bubba Ho-tep" is perhaps the best horror/comedy/drama involving a mummy, Elvis and JFK ever made. That being said it's almost certain to be at your local video store because of it's relative obscurity. If you are looking for some decent laughs that don't involve someone having sexual intercourse with a pie, "Bubba Ho-tep" is a must rent.

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ŠThe Voice 2006
01/21/2006 02:36:53 AM — http://www.uamont.edu/Organizations/TheVoice/3_13/elvis.htm