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BUBBA HO-TEP plus Bruce Campbell Coolness Bits!

Hey folks, Harry here with another rave for BUBBA HO-TEP. Ya know, we've been running raves for this movie for the better part of this year from screenings all over the great U.S. of A. on up to the Shangra La that is Canada too. So far, there hasn't been a studio that stepped up to the plate with the brains or the committment to get this film into theaters near you and me. That's just not fair. Well, it ain't I tell ya, not fair at all. I've seen the film 3 times now, and I'd still support it at the box office, it's that kinda wild fun. Funny as all hell and it deserves a moderate to large release.

I’m not typically fond of going to screenings of “cult” movies. While it may have something to do with the fact that, well, I don’t like being around hundreds of wild, yelling people – it can also probably be attributed to the fact that I don’t like being around hundreds of wild, yelling people.  

While I used to be a big fan of “audience reaction,” as time passed by, I have settled into a mode in which I would rather watch movies in total peace and quiet. Much of that can be attributed to the idiotic comments towards the movie that some people make – that and the annoying laughter at things that are just not funny. When watching movies with big audiences, I find myself often distracted – trying to figure out the mindset of the person who just guffawed or wondering how someone could be so non comprehensive as opposed to actually paying attention to what is going on in the movie.  

Going to movies with a built-in audience only magnifies this. Because their minds are already made up to enjoy the experience, no matter what, I can expect the “laughing at nothing” and “cheering at nothing” to be magnified tenfold (kind of like the midnight showing of Attack of the Clones that I went to). Therefore, I tend to find myself avoiding these types of activities like the plague, which is why I found myself surprised to be at the screening of Bubba Ho-Tep at the Main Art Theatre last Friday.  

Well, not too surprised, actually. You see, the screening was to be presented by Bruce Campbell himself, and Mr. Campbell is one of the few actors in the world I actually like. While I personally don’t necessarily like cavorting with a bunch of overzealous fans, I can’t pass up the opportunity to come up with prime material for one of my trademark “Aaron is insane” articles. (CLICK HERE TO READ IT!) That and the opportunity to get a book signed and impress a woman. Thus, I got off of my lazy posterior and headed off to the screening.  

Bruce Campbell said that his crowd was a pierced crowd, and that proved to be true to a degree. After arriving at the theatre a bit early with a friend of mine, I was greeted by stereotypical leather wearing pierced individual #1, who was ecstatic to “finally meet Bruce Campbell my hero dude!” That prompted me to promptly put my headphones on and play my Gameboy Advance (the one cure for blocking out all of your surroundings, wherever you are). However, admittedly, most of the rest of his fans were a little less…zealous, which is something that I was very glad of at the time.  

At around 6:00, we were invited into the theatre, which was good, because Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonace was getting on my nerves.  

Waiting in the theatre with the rest of the fans, and forced to cut off my GBA due to the lack of light within, I had the “pleasure” of hearing some of the various conversations within. The conversations ranged from “A.I. sucked” to “Who directed Army of Darkness?” which was an especially stupid question since the person who asked was holding Bruce Campbell’s book at the time. It didn’t help my opinion of her peer group that none of the people with her had any idea either – they answered with names of people who weren’t even directors.  

After around a half hour of sitting, one of the aforementioned “peer group” ran in stating that he had the most embarrassing experience of his life. He went on to proclaim that he was in the restroom and washed his hands when he turned around and saw Bruce Campbell drying his hands there. He shook Bruce Campbell’s hand – only it was embarrassing because his hand was wet! (note that the exclamation point is there only because he stated it in that way) Now while that story was pretty much “who cares,” it did serve the purpose of notifying me that Bruce Campbell had arrived.  

Looking around entertainment sites on the Internet, you get many quotes on how “cool” Bruce Campbell is, what a great guy he is, etc. After observing him that evening, I got to understand why. You see, Bruce Campbell is excellent when it comes to dealing with fans. Most stars get (understandably) bored with their fans pretty quick, heck, I (whom am nowhere near a celebrity) can only take so many “YOUR FLASH SERIES IS KEWL DOOD WHEN WILL WE SEE EPISODE 5!?!?” messages a day before I inevitably block all incoming messages from my buddy list.  On the other hand, Bruce Campbell is notorious for putting up with all levels of eccentric fans without giving off an air of superiority. In fact, when observing the fan signing and watching him converse with hundreds of fans, you would almost think that he actually cared about what they were saying. Note the “almost.” He’s not that good of an actor.  

After waiting around for a while, I finally got my turn to converse with him. I told him that I was a generic Internet writer, and I needed his cooperation in taking goofy pictures for a goofy article that I was writing. Of course, being a “cool” guy, he agreed, and thus, my “Aaron vs. Ash” article was born. I also asked him to sign a copy of his novel in order to “make me look good,” which he did. Then it was back inside the auditorium for the screening.  

After a short introduction by Mr. Campbell, Bubba Ho-Tep begun. Bubba Ho-Tep is the story of an elderly Elvis Presley (played by Bruce Campbell), an elderly black man who thinks that he’s JFK, played by Ossie Davis, and a mummy wearing cowboy boots.  

See, Elvis is not actually dead. Tired of the fame and life that went along with it, Elvis switched lives with an Elvis impersonator years ago. Now old, with a broken hip and what seems to be prostate cancer, Elvis lives in a depressed state in a rest home (and of course, no one believes him). However, due to an accident, a mummy has come back to life and is feeding on the elderly souls at the rest home as they sleep. Elvis and “Black JFK” discover this and go on a quest to destroy the evil that has attacked their home.  

Now while this plot rivals even one of my most wacky articles in sheer imagination, the movie is not quite what you’d expect. Going in, I expected a wacky, over the top, camp horror flick a la Army of Darkness. What I got was a somewhat touching (yes touching) character study of an older Elvis Presley and a black man who thinks that he’s JFK.  

The horror elements of the story are actually underplayed. Gore is pretty much nonexistent, and while the dialogue is quite (purposefully) campy at times, it’s never quite as over-the-top as you may expect. Instead, the script focuses on Elvis’ feelings and thoughts, with flashbacks and voiceovers liberally sprinkled in. While Bubba Ho-Tep is going around eating souls through the old folks’ buttholes, the emphasis is on what Elvis feels throughout the ordeal, and his (slight spoiler) redemption at the end (end spoiler).  

With this type of story, success and failure depends on the actors. First of all, let me mention that Campbell does a fantastic job as the older Elvis. This isn’t Campbell just doing an Elvis impersonation for an hour and a half – this is Campbell playing a theoretical older, introspective Elvis, which he does to a tee. A test of acting is if a recognizable actor can make you forget that he is the actor while watching, and in actuality, become the character. Campbell does this, and as the movie wnet on, I found myself empathizing with Elvis quite a bit. In fact, dare I say that I actually cared about him?  

In a surprising turn of events, Campbell’s Elvis is actually one-upped by Ossie Davis’ “black JFK.” Davis’ acting is spot on for the character, and his presence does wonders for the role. I found myself laughing almost every time that his character was on screen – mainly due to the seriousness in which he played the role. Perhaps the most telling part of his performance is that by the end of the movie, you actually believe that he is JFK.  

Going into an “independent ‘B’ movie without a distributor,” I didn’t expect much when it came to direction, cinematography, and score. However, I was pleasantly surprised in all aspects (especially the score, which was actually pretty good). Don’t get me wrong, nothing was outstanding – this wasn’t a Spielberg/Kaminski/Williams combination – but it was good for the material, and thankfully wasn’t plagued with the “since I don’t know how to direct, I’ll rely exclusively on quick cuts, fish eye lenses, and Blair Witch shakycam action!” Even with the limitations, the director showed more flair with the camera than, lets say, Brett Ratner’s recent work in Red Dragon.  

Now don’t get me wrong, this IS a cult movie – it’s not a fantastic piece of entertainment or a masterpiece. However, for an hour and a half of escapism, it’s not bad, in fact there are things about it that are actually quite good – and you will get some enjoyment out of it. Just don’t go in expecting a “Bruce Campbell one-liner fest,” save a scene with a scarab and the final encounter in the wheelchair, there isn’t much of that.  

After the showing, Bruce Campbell hosted a Q and A session regarding the movie and other things. I copied down a list of the highlights from this:  

- When asked about the rumors of him being in Phantasm 5, he stated that the project was not funded yet.  

- When asked about his next project, he said that he is working on his next book.  

- When asked about what character he will be playing in The Amazing Spider-Man, Campbell jokingly stated that Raimi did not tell him yet, but that, knowing Raimi, he will probably call him up the day before he has to shoot and tell him that he has to come for a “scene at the beginning where he is hit by a bus.”  

- Some weirdo asked if he would ever work with Kevin Smith, in which he replied, “huh?” He (he being the weirdo) proved that he didn’t know much of anything when he stated that he heard that Kevin Smith was directing the next Superman movie, in which he was corrected by pretty much the entire audience and started a few side discussions in the audience. While Smith is pretty good when it comes to social commentary, he certainly does not warrant the merit that he gets from fans when it comes to his directorial skills.  

- Some guys asked Bruce Campbell to go hang out with them after the Q and A, in which he humorously replied, “Sure…you guys go ahead, and I’ll go freshen up and catch up with you!”  

After letting everyone bash the bad movies he was in, he asked for a volunteer from the audience for something to be disclosed later. He chose me, no doubt because I looked the least like an obsessive fan that would go crazy when paired up with him on stage.  

After going up there, he stated that I would be playing the Hollywood movie executive, and that he would pitch a movie to me. I agreed, and he stated that the movie would have so and so director, producers, etc. I figured out that it was Congo as soon as he mentioned the producers, and mentioning Michael Crichton solidified my assumption. Being the smartarse that I am, I stated that I wanted Kaminski as a cinematographer, but he glossed over that because it had nothing to do with the point he was making. After naming the people behind the movie, he asked if I would greenlight it – in which I responded, “Well…” only to be interrupted by “Hell yes you’re going to approve it – well guess what, you just greenlighted Congo!” I was thinking of mentioning that Congo DID make money so that I did good, but given the crowd and place, I thought against it. I shook his hand for about the 80th time that day, and walked off, knowing that I could now add “acting alongside Bruce Campbell” to my resume.  

All in all, the evening ended up being quite good. I got plenty of writing material, a present for a friend, and I was also prompted to finally read his book that evening, which invigorated me in pursuing my goal of making my movie (so far, I’ve only gotten the scriptment done – I have a long way to go!). And I must say that was worth the guy sitting behind me laughing every time anyone said anything in the movie. Well, just barely.

MovieBomb

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 22, 2002, 5:19 p.m. CST

    Bruce Campbell as Night Owl.

    by RawShark

    Who else?

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Get PJ to remake Evil Dead 1 + 2

    by Rhoemer

    You know it makes sense. Fuck it, get PJ to be Bruce too.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Shameless piece of self-publicising

    by The Handsome 12th Doctor

    So I went to a screening where Bruce Campbell was going to be and..... by the way, I write my own internet column (here's the link). Anyway I found out Bruce had arrived and I write my own internet column. Finally I met Bruce and I told him I write my own internet column. I'm guessing here, but does this guy write his own internet column?

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 6:51 p.m. CST

    Surprised that Ozzie Davis one-upped him?

    by Burke Dennings

    Ozzie Davis is a great actor.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Rhoemer, Every geek knows that PJ is the poor Kiwi's Sam Raimi..

    by grillskill

    and that Tsui Hark is their father!

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 7:50 p.m. CST

    Bruce Campbell as Evil Ernie, hey, why not? Oh, and, Campbel ar

    by Lordhoban

    Undead, but Bruce this time being the master of destruction. Or he could just be one of the 'good' guys trying to take down Evil Ernie, whatever works.. it'd still kick ass!

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 8:05 p.m. CST

    what an idiot-fuck

    by DOGSOUP

    "Oh i hate dealing with the lowly FANS but *sigh* i will because I'M AN INTERNET WRITER and writers must suffer so..." "I hate people so much i have to escape into my little video game so i don't have to deal with thier fanboy antics WHICH BEING AN INTERNET WRITER i am so above them." "The first thing i told Bruce(since i am so much better and smarter than every loser geek here i am allowed to call him Bruce to his face)is 'IM AN INTERNET WRITER doing a story on you!'Big deal if he's the reason i'm here this IS all about ME anyway..." seriously,you hack,get over yourself and get a day job.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 8:08 p.m. CST

    I suspect that this movie will work best as 3AM filler on the In

    by Margot Tenenbaum

    Unfortunately, Parker Posey isn't in it, so they may show "Clockwatchers" instead.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 8:14 p.m. CST

    translation of this review

    by John Donson

    The crowd is so far inferior to my superior intellect and taste that I cannot laugh at all the funny parts of Evil Dead 2 along with everyone else. I run some shitty website. I must watch movies in complete silence, especially The Clone Wars, because when I was a kid I never cheered to a movie on opening night. I run some shitty web site. Despite the fact that Bruce Campbell used me for gag where he makes an ass out of an audience member, I was not made an ass because I saw so far ahead of Bruce's clever Congo/Hollywood analogy. I run a shitty website. I saw and liked a cool movie yet neglected to mention the brilliant director DON COSCARELLI who made other classics like Phantasm 1-4 and the motherfucking Beastmaster. Coscarelli has directed more great movies than that hack Kaminski ever will. Next time try writing a review instead of self promotion. Bring on a Vern or Hallenbeck review please.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 9:16 p.m. CST

    Bubba rocks

    by Smart Mark

    saw it at toronto film festival. Bubba Ho is the real deal.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 11:19 p.m. CST

    OH NO! THE TALKBACKERS DON'T LIKE THE WRITING STYLE...

    by Arrogancy

    ...and refer to the supposed "arrogance," even when it was specifically stated in the article that this was just the perspective of a "nobody" (multiple times, in fact) - albeit an observant nobody. And of course, the plugs/self reverential nature are obvious when you see the context (the review was copied from the site). I guess you'd have to actually be, you know, observant, to notice stuff like that though. You may carry on with the random flaming now.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 11:25 p.m. CST

    You talk like an elitist

    by Hate_Speech

    As if you had to come down from your mountain (Probably made of ding dongs) to mingle with the little people. For those who don't know what an elitist is, here's the definition = The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 11:27 p.m. CST

    you are not a beautiful or unique snowflake, you are a loser

    by bootyschool

    a self-important one, at that. i can't wait to see this movie.

  • Oct. 22, 2002, 11:27 p.m. CST

    an evening with Patrick Warburton in other words......

    by KingKarll

    .....I don't get it. What is the big deal about Bruce Campbell here? Big lug, agreeable, makes funny zombie flix, was good in 'Brisco County', ummmm that's about it. He is Victor Mature with more of a Ha-ha quotient or Joe Don Baker, Maybe. I'll pass. I don't see the big deal. The movie sounds like a bad SNL skit gone haywire.........

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 12:09 a.m. CST

    Well, it's been about a week...

    by Super Mendez

    so I guess it's time for the collective circle-jerk over Bruce Campbell here. Christ, this guy is involved in 1 or 2 shitty movies per year and that's all you read about around here for the next 6 months. This movie was released, what like 4 months ago and they're still posting "reviews"? And I use the word "review" loosely, because all I ever read from the mindless jack-off fanboys, is there worthless meanderings of how "Bruce Campbell is God". Well fuck-off, Bruce Campbell is dumb. Find something else to write about, we get the fucking point, you want to suck his cock.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 12:12 a.m. CST

    I was there.......Bruce is cool

    by jadjlj

    I was at this screening. It was in Bruce's hometown of Royal Oak, MI, at the Main Art Theater. I had been to an Evil Dead Reunion screening and event a few months ago at the same theater. That event was far "wackier" than this. The fans there were more like this reporter described. I'm not ashamed to say that I'm proud to have been a part of that crowd. Mr. Campbell and the rest of the Evil Dead cast were there for a Q&A and signing. Unfortunately, I went to the later screening and didn't get to meet any of them. Regardless, the Q&A was fun and it was great to see Evil Dead on the big screen for the first time. At the Bubba Ho Tep screening, I finally had my first chance to meet Mr. Campbell. As it's been said many times before, he is so cool with his fans. Every person he signed for was invited to sit with him and chat for a minute. My boyfriend and I have crushes on Bruce. (OH MY GOD! This poster's gay!) I was getting nervous waiting in line. The second he says hello and sits you down, the lines between "star" and "fan" become blurred. You really realize that he's just an average Joe who got somewhat lucky and somewhat famous and he's worked hard at what he does. He's got a passion for his job and he's got a great sense of humor about the way fame and the Hollywood machine works. I felt privileged to have those couple moments. (I introduced my boyfriend and myself and he called us "knuckleheads". -tee hee-) He said he was really happy for everyone to be able to see Bubba Ho Tep. He's really jazzed about this flick and it's a shame nobody has picked it up for distribution. The movie is funny but It's not what people may expect. The horror/gore factor is very low. Where one might call the Evil Dead movies horror films with comedic moments, Bubba Ho Tep might be described as a comedy with a horror subplot. There was scarier and gorier stuff in the recent Mummy movies. Bubba Ho Tep is really a buddy picture that features Bruce Campbell doing his best acting to date. His take on Elvis is spot on. It doesn't take long to forget that it's Bruce Campbell on the screen. Bruce is good at what he normally does. This is the first time that I was able to say that Bruce Campbell was good. Period. Ossie Davis is also a hoot in this film. He stole most of the movie. So many of his lines were quotable. He and Bruce have a great chemistry. I hope this gets picked up, does well, and they make a few sequels. I would love to see these two together on screen again. To make an already long post longer, I just wanted to share my experience at this event and put in my two cents about the movie. No outright disrespect to anyone. No name calling or nitpicking. Bubba Ho Tep is good. Go see it if you have a chance. Bruce Campbell is a nice guy. Go see him if you have a chance. Have a nice day. :)

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 1:05 a.m. CST

    Bubba

    by GravY

    I was at this showing and to tell you the truth this guy looked scared shitless when he was called up on stage... Bruce Campbell was very nice, chatted with him for a few minutes, got my book signed and was on my way.. Bubba Ho-Tep was good, if you have a chance to see it make sure you do so!

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 2:20 a.m. CST

    Moviebomb is a knob

    by THEWANKER

    Sure knows how to come off as a prick in a review. He's too pretentious to associate with weirdo rabid fans or whatever, but sends a review to a weirdo rabid fan site, chock full of shameless self promotion. Don't read his article. Asshat.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 2:48 a.m. CST

    Hey, Harry's back!

    by Lyunardo

    Wow, for a while I thought this had become Moriarty's AICN. Some of us have been coming here for years, since way back when Harry posted his own home made animations with something like his head stuck into a scene from Star Wars. Yeah, I know, that Blade2 review turned ALL of our stomachs, but... were willing to forgive(and boy, would I LOVE to forget). COME BACK HARRY, COME BAAAACK!!!!

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 4:59 a.m. CST

    Didn't that asshole who asked the Kevin Smith question realise w

    by Cash Bailey

    Kevin Smith is also the name of the actor from Zena who tragically was killed performing a stunt not long ago. He and Bruce Campbell were very close, Smith even writing an article for Bruce's site. Fucking idiot!

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 5:31 a.m. CST

    What a fuckin' clownshoe

    by Sodomy Redux

    I don't know who this Aaron fellow was, but he came across as a complete asshole. Harry, please don't ever publish anything from this asshat again. Harry can come across as self-aggrandizing and self-important, but he never seems like a mean-spirited elitist assball. This guy does.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 7:21 a.m. CST

    What a stuck up Cunt Bitch

    by EdHairless

    Oooh look at me I'm a writing genius....look at me, the internet writing prodigy, get my hands dirty with the commonfolk. I bet Bruce Campbell picked me to go on stage because he sensed down in my soul that my writing abilitiy could elevate him from B movie cult status to multiple Oscar Winner with a mere touch of my hand. Pardon me while I go play the Grand Piano. Not to even mention that Aaron gave us a rather lackadaisical review of a movie that we have already heard much about. Buddy, just remember, if you want to make it in the way that Harry/Mori and the rest of the AICN writers have, you might not want to put down the people who might be your audience. Cunt.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 9 a.m. CST

    Kevin Smith

    by Glass

    I hated this reviewer as much as the rest of you. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one. But I have to admit that I agree with him about Kevin Smith. That guy is a hack. A fucking hack whose movies look like a pre-pubescent made them. That's all.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 12:41 p.m. CST

    What a prick

    by tempus_fidget

    I liked him better in the Simpsons. Worst...review...ever.

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 7:37 p.m. CST

    This is it, this is the review I'll be remember for.

    by JAGUART

    Man I haven't enjoyed a review like that since I posted Malexandria's (eclipsemagazine.com) cunty sanctimonious review of Lord of the Rings on IMDB.com last year. Aaron, give Malexandria a call. Seriously. Hip Hop to it man!

  • Oct. 23, 2002, 7:59 p.m. CST

    Why do I get this creepy feeling.....?

    by JAGUART

    That this Aaron guy, went he gets older, is going to cause major catastrophic death and destruction in an obsessive search to find his Arch-Nemesis?

  • Oct. 24, 2002, 12:23 a.m. CST

    this review is obviously fake...

    by jackburtonlives

    com'on people, it's so obvious. harry has been taking a lot of flak recently and this is his way of getting back. why else would he post such a hulking mound of arrogant, self-righteous, elitist turd? this must have been done to yank people's chains; such sheer arrogance from someone who is clearly a nobody cannot be for real. so chill out everyone.*******HOWEVER, if this guy is for real and if there is a special olympics for the pulitzer, i have to admit this guy has a running start on everyone else.

  • Oct. 24, 2002, 1:07 a.m. CST

    If you want your movie to lose money...

    by God Shamgodd

    ...call it Bubba Ho-Tep. And then cast Madonna, if possible. Let me ask you this - why would Bruce Campbell take that dinky part in Spiderman? Doesn't he have any self-respect? Is he going to appear on Match Game 2002 next? A Love Boat reunion show?

  • Oct. 24, 2002, 7:08 a.m. CST

    well...

    by Grail42

    jesus...that was the most vile, arrogant, self-aggrandizing piece of crap i've ever read. of course i'm talking about the talkback. you people like to shoot down anyone you don't agree with, but the fact of the matter is that he actually wrote something and submitted it. you don't think the writing is good enough, write one yourself. while i agree that the review had it's lacking points, it didn't deserve to be bashed like that. shit...you people want to be so high and mighty "lord of the geeks", but you can't even be bothered to get off your asses and do something yourself. instead you have to wait until someone else makes an effort, so that you can mock it without much effort on your part. i can't tell wether it's because you're cowards, or because you're lazy. you don't even have the decency to say WHY it was bad. way i was taught, if you don't agree with the way something was done, then that's your right, but point out the flaws, and where it could be improved. don't be an asshole. there, now i've said my piece and will be moving on. you may flame me as you wish, as i know you will anyway. but i don't care. some of us have better things to do than sit here and troll for assholes.

  • Oct. 24, 2002, 8:47 p.m. CST

    This movie is intriguing and...

    by devil0509

    This MovieBomb guy is an amazing tool. He's just...sad.