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Review

BUBBA HO-TEP Review

It has been nearly 10 years since the last real Bruce Campbell movie.

1993 was the glorious year you saw BRUCE CAMPBELL VS ARMY OF DARKNESS aka EVIL DEAD 3. Since that glorious day that too few of us saw in 93 we BRUCE-fans have been forced to gnaw upon the rancid bones of CONGO, ESCAPE FROM L.A., McHALE’S NAVY, THE LOVE BUG and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY for the prayer of consumable Campbell coolness. We caught flashing glimpses in SPIDER-MAN and THE MAJESTIC, but nothing even approaching a meal.

Some of us sought to quench the thirst for the mighty Bruce in his magnificent book, IF CHINS COULD KILL, and that was a mighty good swab of non-visual Campbell-ness. Some of us went to television for his work on BRISCO COUNTY only to see our love crushed by an evil network. Some went to XENA and JACK OF ALL TRADES… but alas those shows are all gone.

When was the last time you had a heaping helpin’ of R-rated manliness from the man that gives us all some sugar baby? Nearly 10 years ago.

That’s right in the last millennia.

Folks… I have found your goddamn asskicking Bruce Campbell film. That film that only a cult movie god like Bruce Campbell could star in. We all know he’d like us to Hail to the King, well this time he plays the King, the fallen king and the return of the king.

Quint’s been giving you behind the scenes info on BUBBA HO-TEP, but man… The finished project is where the coolness lies.

BUBBA HO-TEP is a wall to wall showcase of Bruce Campbell Goodness. This is, bar-none the funniest Bruce Campbell movie to date. You literally might very well piss yourself laughing at his portrayal of the ancient Elvis Presley, you might even well up a tear or two as well. Bruce is fantastic in this movie.

As you probably already know, BUBBA HO-TEP is the story about Elvis Presley, who is alive and living in a West Texas Retirement Community in anonymity. I’m not gonna tell ya how the King of Rock-n-Roll wound up there, suffice to say shit like this happens all the time, you just have go with what life throws ya, and sometimes life throws ya in a West Texas Retirement Home with a pus spewing cancerous growth on your pecker and an eager beaver shot of a woman that finds you sadly amusing. Yup, life can be tough when the only person that will listen to you is a black man claiming to be the dyed disguised John F Kennedy with a sandbag for a missing brain played brilliantly by Ossie Davis.

Oh, and let us not forget the man known as Kemosabe played brilliantly by Larry Pennell, whom you cool folks in the crowd will know played Dash Riprock from THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES back in the sixties or as Major Thomas in the great B-horror film THE SPACE CHILDREN! Kemosabe is an old man blessed with the old age delusion that he is the spastic remains of the Lone Ranger. He rules.

Then there is the Retirement Home manager played with appropriate disdain and disaffection by Reggie “We Gotta Stomp The Shit Outta That Tall Dude!” Bannister.

Which means… this movie must be directed by Don Coscarelli! Now, I’m nowhere near as friendly with Don as Quint here at the site is. I’ve met Don a couple of times and he seems a bit shy. We’ve never really had a great conversation, simply because we’ve never sat down to have one. I am a fan of the PHANTASM series, but I’ve only recently become one when the big Phantasm event happened at the Alamo Drafthouse back a year or so ago. Maybe two years back.

Now Don is a master of low-budget filmmaking, making a film that looks completely like a studio’s shiny glossy film, but with a soul, humor, with and sense of fun that is often lacking in the soulless, witless, humorless, funless dreck that sometimes oozes out of there.

Here, watching a eighty-some-odd year old Elvis teaming up with a delusional Jack Kennedy to fight some ass-sucking mummy in cowboy fashions… Well, movies don’t get much more fun, crazy, wild and joyful than this one.

This is exactly the sort of film we used to see get released from NEW LINE or A.I.P. The sort of film we wish we saw come out of DIMENSION, but sadly… Too often today genre product from those companies often feel exactly like GENRE PRODUCT, as opposed to being the people who would release the next EVIL DEAD 2 or the next BRAIN DEAD (aka DEAD ALIVE).

This movie features excellent make-up by KNB, Bruce’s old age make-up on Elvis is awesome. Also, it is very nice to see a mummy that is all make-up! Actually, the great thing is the total lack of any CGI. I mean, DOG SOLDIERS and this one… NO CGI! Does that not just give you a smile across that cynical face of yours?

The score by Brian “Six String Samurai” Tyler is perfect for ‘King-ly’ heroics. I’ve been waiting for Brian to do more work and earlier this year when I heard his work in the wonderful genre film FRAILTY, I was delighted. Now here on BUBBA HO-TEP he again proves why I adored his work so long ago with SIX STRING SAMURAI.

Now does this movie not have flaws?

Well I’ve seen the film twice now. Upon first viewing I loved almost the whole thing in the same way that I love BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA and ARMY OF DARKNESS. That same sort of ‘cooooooooool’ flavor coming from the movie, except that I felt the last few minutes of the film let me down a beat or two instead of just giving me that “HOLY SHIT!” feeling. Well, upon second viewing, those problems went away completely. I would still love a gigantic production number at the end, but this isn’t that movie. This is a movie that is more about watching how we want to remember Elvis… which is actually a bit of a sad funny wonderful thing.

This movie is strangely affecting at the same time it is hilarious. The internal monologues that Bruce gives Elvis are all at once tragically self-aware, while also being hilarious. This is really a tour de force of Bruce’s comedic and dramatic talents in the B-movie world that he rules from up on high!

This audience rocked the houses at CineVegas! There was plenty of doubled over laughing, and many scenes that you couldn’t hear the dialogue because the laughter was so loud. This is a cult movie hit… This is the movie that the legion of Bruce lovers that buy his action figures and the endless editions of EVIL DEAD titles have been waiting for. Well… kinda, they didn’t know this was coming, and they have been specifically waiting for EVIL DEAD IV, but I guarantee they’ll love this one, because this is the king baby. Hail to the King baby!

Readers Talkback
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  • June 18, 2002, 9:30 a.m. CST

    Dammit this movie needs a release!

    by Not The Messiah

    That's all.

  • June 18, 2002, 9:55 a.m. CST

    PLEASE...

    by Xfonhe

    PLEASE tell me it's still showing in Vegas! I'm going there in TWO days and I MUST see Bubba Ho Tep!! If I get lucky (figuratively and literally ;-) and catch this, what promises to be, wonderful B-flick, I'll ship a review out ASAP. You can never have too many perspectives, know what I'm sayin'? ;^

  • June 18, 2002, 10:02 a.m. CST

    Sounds Great, But...

    by symon

    ...would you say this one's better than Spirit, Harry? Because you went on and on about that thing (which I would rather die than ever even think about seeing). That's my only complaint with AICN these days - if you gush over every movie, how can we have any faith in you. And I want to have faith in this movie - because Bruce Campbell is incredible. So Harry - come on, give us some bad reviews - at least a couple. Stop reviewing only things you like and review a piece of shit - just so we know you've still got taste...

  • June 18, 2002, 10:55 a.m. CST

    It's Good

    by cshea1138

    I hear it's good. And suppose to be really gross too! You can't beat that. And by the way, the day they release Evil Dead 4, is the day everyone stops asking for it. Could you imaginethe rabid ED fans picking apart anything that is put out under that name? Just look at the way Spiderman was treated in the Talkbacks. You would have thought people were expecting Citizen Cane II. Suspend your disbelief!!!!!

  • June 18, 2002, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Holy Crap!

    by Halloween68

    I want to see now. However, I seriously doubt anything can top the first time I saw Evil Dead 2... That "Work Shed!" outburst nearly caused me to wet my drawers. Raimi always new how to push just the right buttons. I hope this one comes close to being as good. If it's even close, I'm a happy man. But, hell, the plotline is worth the price of admission alone. This looks extremely cool. Harry, you have to let us know as soon as someone picks this up. A lot of my friends who don't do talkbacks but are big Bruce/Evil Dead fans, are extremely excited about this one. Keep the news coming, Harry. Now bring on Evil Dead IV. Whoohoo!

  • June 18, 2002, 12:20 p.m. CST

    director. . .

    by PriestYoungblood

    Isn't this the same director who did Beastmaster?? Not that I'm knockin' Beastmaster, mind you... just curious.

  • June 18, 2002, 1:33 p.m. CST

    I want to see this movie!!!

    by Smart Mark

    I've read Quint's coverage, now the rave reviews...when canI see this? Need Bubba now!

  • June 18, 2002, 2:21 p.m. CST

    Harry, did you forget about Running Time?

    by otis von zipper

    Easy to forget maybe, since I just heard about it a few weeks ago and it was made in 1997. Maybe most folks don't know about it. If anyone has seen it, I'd love to hear some opinions. If Bruce is in it, it has to be worth a look, but then again I don't really feel that way about Congo and Twister.

  • June 18, 2002, 2:23 p.m. CST

    oops, sorry, not Twister, but that other tornado movie

    by otis von zipper

    I think it was called Tornado. Quick look on imdb.com later. Yep, Tornado.

  • June 18, 2002, 3:40 p.m. CST

    PriestYoungblood

    by Halloween68

    You kiddin'? That'd be kind of funny if it was. And no complaints here. I loved Beastmaster when it first came out. 'Dubbed it my favorite movie of all time for about a year there. (Aaaaa. What do you want? I was a high schooler going through puberty.) I still call it a guilty pleasure though. In any event, I'm a fan of the Phantasms, so I'm familiar with and cool with his work. Can definately see him putting together a kick-butt, if not altogether weird, Bruce Campbell piece.

  • June 18, 2002, 6:01 p.m. CST

    You honestly think Dimension are cool enough to release a film l

    by Cash Bailey

    Dimension are a sucking chest wound of a company, who (apart from JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK and THE OTHERS) haven't released anything remotely watchable since SCREAM.

  • June 18, 2002, 8:07 p.m. CST

    Does this take place in the future

    by chiknfriedelfsac

    I only skimmed through the ramblings but saw something about an 80something elvis. Which is funny because Elvis was born in 1935. Which would make him 67. Not an age at which most people are in old folk's homes in this day and age.

  • June 18, 2002, 9:29 p.m. CST

    Crimewave dvd?

    by Declan_Swartz

    Where is the Crimewave dvd? The film was originally put out by Embassy, and even Bruce Cambell does not know who owns the film now. The movie is far from perfect, but with the combined names of Raimi and Coen Bros. on the dvd cover there will be no problem for the average person giving it a chance and buying the dvd. The dvd is worth it for the rear-projection screen fight on the outside of the car alone. Anchor Bay needs to stop ripping off the fans with the various versions of Army of Darkness(why couldn't they have just released the dual discs version?) and get cracking on a special edition of Crimewave.

  • June 19, 2002, 12:13 a.m. CST

    Running Time was cool but-

    by cupp555

    Yeah it was a good movie, but it just didn't have that Bruce flava to it. It was a crime caper that had no Bruce one-liners and their are no strange beasties; however it is a very good film. Pick it up on DVD for more Bruce audio commentary. Also it's better than most of the crap he's made in his lifetime.

  • June 19, 2002, 2:48 a.m. CST

    Running Time

    by Almost Sexy

    I enjoyed it, but it did have a few problems. I loved the idea of doing a film in one take, but there is an inconsistency of tone in the film in relation to Bruce's character. Is he a hardened criminal or sensitive boyfriend material. The filmmakers clearly wanted to find a way to make him both. I felt like the resolution was just a cop-out of sorts. I feel like the film would have been a lot more believable, if it had ended about three minutes sooner. It's always fun to see Mr. Campbell though, and it is a lot better than much of his other B-movie work. So if you're a fan it's worth seeing, but I feel like the film was sort of divided in terms of where it was trying to go. I saw an ad for Servicing Sara the other day (the Matthew Perry/Elizabeth Hurley film Bruce is in), and was quite pleasantly surprised that he's mentioned by name in the trailer, and they actually show him on screen. I thought that was very nice.

  • June 19, 2002, 4:42 a.m. CST

    I'll bet it's better than AOTC

    by MST3KPIMP

    I mean how could it not be?

  • June 19, 2002, 7:29 a.m. CST

    NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE

    by Snuggleskunk

    Seriously. Did anyone sneak a camera into the Las Vegas showings or anything? Has anyone even heard of a pirate going round? I'm in the UK and the chances of getting to see this film legitimately in the next few years seems slim if it doesn't have a ditributor in the usa. And also it just sounds like the coolest film in ages. When was the last time you heard the plot of the film and thought "wow thats fucking original and sounds fucking entertaining" . I mean if I had the money or if I even had a way of obtaining the money I would have flown to Las Vegas purely to get to see this film. Anyone hears there is a pirate please tell me so some semblance of hope can return to my heart.

  • June 20, 2002, 2:53 a.m. CST

    HOLY SHIT...and don Pascarelli

    by Cinemanshanahan

    I saw Bruce speak about a year ago and he spoke about this masterpiece and he had us drooling for more and more info. He can literally hold a thousand people in thepalm of his hand and make tem beg for more. What charisma. He is also the most down yo earth "celebrity" i hasve ever encountered. I asked him if i could film him (having a video camera handy) and he didn't mind at all, he actually adlibbed a quick funny monologue about a friend that wasn't able to make it to see him. Helluva guy, and i cannot wait for Don Pascarelli's (not Cascarelli) Bubba Ho-Tepp. Literally cant wait, i might go across country to film festivals if i have to.

  • June 20, 2002, 12:10 p.m. CST

    WendigoFett

    by Halloween68

    Your reference to Mindwarp... Yes, seen it, have it. I agree, an excellent movie. Very enjoyable. Ditto on the Bruce Campbell, Angus Scrimm pare up. And to think, we're going to see it again here shortly.

  • June 20, 2002, 9:20 p.m. CST

    Icebreaker

    by dbeyer7

    Has anyone seen Icebreaker? It sucks balls but Bruce Campbell is pretty cool as the bald villian. And the guy from rudy and lord of the rings is in it

  • June 21, 2002, 3:52 a.m. CST

    HOLY SHIT...and don Pascarelli????

    by MrTorso

    Dude, do some homework... It is Don COSCARELLI!! The master behind THE BEASTMASTER and the five PHANTASM films!

  • June 24, 2002, 4:30 a.m. CST

    A U.K. release date?

    by workshed

    My pants are dripping wet with antici..........pation. HAIL TO THE KING!!!

  • June 24, 2002, 6:58 a.m. CST

    i wish i could see this in my country

    by CuervoJones

    Bruce Campbell is God. A fat god in Spiderman.

  • June 24, 2002, 4:01 p.m. CST

    Don`t forget he was in "Hudsucker Proxy"!

    by Elgyn6655321

    I`d love to see "Mindwarp", but I can`t find it at any video stores. As for "Crimewave", I saw it years ago and remember not liking it much - aside from Bruce, of course. And he was the best thing about that damn stupid "Congo" movie.

  • June 24, 2002, 5:09 p.m. CST

    no cgi is all well and fine, but the important question: does it

    by yankeessuck

  • June 24, 2002, 8:40 p.m. CST

    I get to see Bruce on Sunday

    by Cincy Vigilante

    Yup, you all can envy me. Bruce will be at Xenia ohio at an outdoor theater doing a play of the film Shane. I got a backstage tour also, I am hoping to meet the Man.

  • June 25, 2002, 11:31 a.m. CST

    Dont forget the WWF plastic surgon,

    by tonymanitou

    he was in the "ESCAPE FROM LA" too! The plastic surgon.. And also the pro wrestling announcer in SAM RAIMIS' "Spiderman"....

  • June 25, 2002, 2 p.m. CST

    Groovy

    by King_Zombie

    The very fact that this movie has the god of the film-world that is known as Bruce Campbell means that it should get a release. Because if not, they're a bunch of muppets

  • June 25, 2002, 9:09 p.m. CST

    Mindwarp!!!

    by iamdeadfish

    Mindwarp!!! One of my favorite Bruce Campbell flicks! Everyone should check it out!

  • July 10, 2002, 2:25 p.m. CST

    WHERE THE HELL CAN I SEE THIS MOVIE?!?!?

    by G0AT1178

    I do believe I have soiled myself. I've seen the name Bubba Ho-Tep on this site a bunch of times, but yet, had no idea what it was. Now I know, and yes, I have soiled myself.

  • Aug. 4, 2002, 3:32 a.m. CST

    Very disappointing movie!

    by zenda

    I saw it tonight in beautiful downtown Park Ridge, Illinois, introduced by Bruce campbell himself. And you know what? I was so disappointed in the movie. Why? With a pair of great performances by Bruce Campbell and the always terrific Ossie Davis (and good supporting work from nurse Ella Joyce), and a clever and funny script, what could possibly go wrong? The hack they hired to direct it, that's what. Sped-up sequences that add absolutely nothing but annoyance to the film. And generally no sense of pacing to it at all. It should have been so much better, especially with the great acting. But it wasn't enough to overcome the bargain basement direction. What a let down!

  • Feb. 13, 2003, 9:26 p.m. CST

    phantasm? huh?

    by ray9356

    Convuluted, almost non-existent plot, senseless ending, weak fx, and the oh-so-cool ball thing shows up like once. I will NEVER understand how anyone could dig Phantasm...

  • Dec. 6, 2003, 7:45 a.m. CST

    BUBBA and RUNNING TIME

    by Ronnie_Dobbs

    R.T. is good and does actually have a little Bruce flava to it, i.e. his ridiculous arrogance and vanity, but BUBBA is definitely more Bruce. I'd say Elvis is the part he was born to play, but we all know who that was. Anyway, I never really liked Elvis (as the great Public Enemy said, "Straight out racist the sucka was, simple and plain/Mutha-fuck him and John Wayne!"), but I sure as hell like this movie. It finally opened today in Minnesota, and I was there for the first show. Hilarious and touching and just plain fun; this movie kicks ass!

  • July 19, 2006, 5:46 a.m. CST

    Kinda sad really.

    by cobb

    Couldn't help but finding the predicaments of Elvis kind of sad. When he says that when you get old everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing, my guess is he's pretty much speaking for most old, sick and tired people living in retirement homes everywhere. Lovely film, and worth watching - if you can keep an open mind (after all it IS a retired Elvis and a black JFK chasing down a mummy - for chrissake!).