9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
All is well...,
This review is from: Bubba Ho-Tep [DVD]  (DVD)
Many of the great films deal with old age and the ending of an era: The Wild Bunch, Citizen Kane, The Leopard, Once Upon a Time in America, The Lion in Winter, Touchez Pas au Grisbi, Unforgiven, Ride the High Country… and Bubba Ho-Tep comes surprisingly close at times to making the cut alongside them. On the surface an outrageous schlock movie with a premise that even Troma might find dodgy – an elderly Elvis and a black President Kennedy team up to destroy the soul-sucking Mummy in cowboy duds killing residents in their old folks home and defacating the remains in the visitors toilets – the reality is a surprisingly moving reflection on old age, unfulfilled expectations, loss of dignity, loss of self and the emptiness of celebrity in a culture that doesn’t want its heroes to ever age. Bruce Campbell’s Elvis-in-a-Zimmer-frame is a truly remarkable performance, never mocking, never going for cheap laughs, capturing the public face of the legend and the private disappointments of the man as he slowly realises he’s treated his life a lot worse than life has treated him and finally gets the chance to really be the hero he always wanted to be. There’s an epic dimension to the character that never spills over into grandiose mythmaking, firmly grounded in the horrible everyday reality of living in a place where friends regularly die or can’t remember you, where family ignore you and other residents will steal from the more vulnerable. It genuinely is one of the great performances in independent movies.
Kudos too to Ossie Davis’ President Kennedy, similarly playing it straight despite the lion’s share of absurd dialog and character quirks: when, in the film’s most iconic moment, the King in his Rhinestone suit, cape and Zimmer frame and President Kennedy in his best suit and wheelchair make their way down the corridor for their final confrontation, they really are genuinely heroic figures that you’re rooting for even if they do have mobility problems. The downside is that the horror side of the movie is less considerably effective, the jokes never as funny as you’d like them to be, the fun never frantic and one scene too many with the would-be comic hearse drivers. But the compensations more than outweigh the cons (not least of them a versatile electric guitar theme from composer Brian Tyler that has the flexibility to be both tender or stirring depending on the orchestration). This is a film with real emotional weight – indeed, the ending is genuinely touching in a lump-in-the-throat, I’ve-just-got-something-in-my-eye kind of way.
Anchor Bay's 2-disc set improves on the US edition with more extras, and compliments the film perfectly. All is well...