There have been many stories about what really happened to Elvis Presley and JFK. BUBBA HO-TEP, based on the short story by cult author Joe R. Lansdale, presents the most outrageous and entertaining one yet.
We find Elvis (Bruce Campbell) as an elderly resident in an East Texas rest home, who switched identities with an impersonator years before his “death,” then missed his chance to switch back when the contract exploded in a trailer park accident. Of course no one believe he’s the real deal now. Also spending his golden years in the home is Jack (Ossie Davis), who thinks that he is actually President John F. Kennedy, who survived and underwent plastic surgery to protect his identity. As one might expect, no one believes him either. Luckily for the nay-sayers, the two valiant old codgers sally forth to save the day by battling an evil Egyptian entity who has chosen their long-term care facility as his happy hunting grounds to suck the old folks’ souls at night.
Mind-blowing in its originality, BUBBA HO-TEP transcends the “late-night cult” genre by virtue of captivating performances by Campbell and Davis, and the assured direction of Don Coscarelli. Coscarelli handles the bizarre material with such precision that you actually believe that Elvis and JFK are alive and not quite well. He treats the characters, and old age for that matter, with such respect that no matter how absurd things become, you are completely with him. BUBBA HO-TEP, with its cinematic flash and terrifically offbeat humor, is a fantastic story of redemption, courage and friendship.
In much the same way that director George A. Romero creative output has been primarily centered around the highly successful “Dead” series of zombie films, then fellow fantasy director Don Coscarelli has for over two decades seen his universe swirling around the lesser successful, but equally cult, and much loved “Phantasm” series of horror movies.
Coscarelli was born in Tripoli in North Africa, but raised around Southern California, and was interested in the cinema from a young age and together with his friends they made several low budget movies that aired on community TV stations to very positive feedback.
After a low key start with his first feature film embracing the trials of a young teenager caught in a world of alcoholic abuse Jim, the World’s Greatest (1976), Coscarelli followed this up with a lighter comedic tale about another youngster and his view of the world as an impressionable 12 year old in Kenny & Company (1976). However, the imaginative Coscarelli… read more
Bubba Ho-Tep a tout du film kitsch et ridicule. Des acteurs n’ayant plus vraiment la cote, un cinéaste qui s’est essentiellement fait connaître grâce à son film Phantasm plus de vingt ans plus tôt… read review
Bruce Campbell IS Elvis. (Quite possibly his best performance.) Ossie Davis IS JFK. (OK, probably not his best but likely his most unexpected.) Don Coscarelli’s direction may not be as idiosyncratic… read review
Elvis is still alive in a retirement home? JFK is still alive, in the same retirement home?, and he’s been dyed black? An ancient mummy in cowboy duds is haunting the retirement home these two happen… read review