Hey folks, Harry here... why two more reviews? Well these two saw the film from the second showing last night, and there's different stories and quotes from Coscarelli and Campbell, and since we here at AICN are all about giving to you, the adoring lovers of the one true BRUCE, the best document your favorite monky boy's life... We give it to ya. So enjoy...
Hail to the Geek,
I know this isn't the first comment about "Bubba Ho-Tep" and I'm sure it won't be the last. This lucky arachnid wanted to chime in with his own two cents, though, so here we go...
I caught the 10:30pm showing of "Bubba Ho-Tep" at The Egyptian theater here in Los Angeles last night. Tried to get tickets to the 7:30pm show, but they sold out fast and my eight little legs couldn't get me there fast enough. I was lucky to even get the 10:30pm tickets, I think. There were huge crowds for both shows.
Incidentally, I think you ought to get a big "thank you" card from the American Cinematheque people. I'm willing to bet both shows sold out faster than they expected. I saw a pollster going around out front, asking people how they heard about the screenings. I spoke with the same pollster later, and found out that AICN was the second most common way people found out about it -- second only to the AC's own site. There were a lot of people who knew someone who found out about it from AICN, too. Way to go, Harry. I hope Bruce and Don send you something nice, too.
There have been many reviews so far, so most AICN readers know the basic premise: Bruce Campbell is an elderly Elvis Presley and Ozzie Davis is an aged JFK. The duo team up to save their nursing home from the titular Bubba Ho-Tep. While just the first part about Bruce as Elvis had me reaching for my wallet, the rest was just too dang cool to pass up.
Since I was at the 10:30pm show I missed whatever Q&A there might have been earlier in the evening. Apparently the crowd at my show had a lot more time to get lubed up before arriving. Our Q&A was more limited, but still entraining. Bruce is Bruce, after all, and he knows how to manage his largely unruly fan base. Always something about those fans, though, and you see it at Comic Con, too; there's always a couple real losers who make the loudest comments that manage to embarrass the rest of us. Bruce has obviously dealt with this before, and handled them quite well and was fun to watch. Someone of course asked him if he'd been approached to play Superman, to which Bruce sagely replied, "I will never be asked to play Superman." He also indicated he didn't have much interest in it himself, but wasn't able to go into further detail due to the catcalls from the audience.
Don Coscarelli, the film’s writer and director, was there with Bruce to introduce the film, and provided the answer to that age-old question: "Why Bubba Ho-Tep?"
A valid question, and Don had a good answer. He explained that the "official" version of the King's demise involved being found dead on the crapper, his pajamas around his ankles. No true fan would ever accept that as how the King of Rock n' Roll shuffled off his mortal coil; no way Elvis went out like that. "Bubba Ho Tep" is the story of what really happened to Elvis. It is a fun and strangely touching tale of what happens when a legend has to reflect upon his life and wonder how things could have been different and more fulfilling.
Oddly enough, it takes a 4,000 year old Egyptian menace to snap the King out his funk and give him one last chance to be the hero he always wanted to be. With a man who may or may not be JFK at his side, The King kicks some mummified ass.
As strange as it sounds, the film actually works. Sure, it's a B-movie, but it's a testament to the power of independent movie making, because there's no way in hell this movie would be made by a studio. I don't think it qualifies as high-art, but it doesn't need to. It's a cleverly written, fairly well produced, and fun story that takes an outrageous premise and manages to find a heart and emotionality that you might not otherwise expect. Bruce and Don make an interesting foray into the mind of a rock legend, and create a fairly believable portrait of a man who has had the highs and lows and is left with the same regrets any other mortal would have. Not only is the story a worthy addition to the legend, it reminds us at the same time that the legend was really just a man.
I only had one minor nag about the make-up*, but it's a little thing that only bothered me for the first few minutes of the movie. After that, there's just too much fun to worry about it. The story was so much fun, and really enjoyable that I let it go.
No spoilers, because I think it's a movie that's fun to see for yourself and I encourage others to do the same when they get the chance. If you've enjoyed Bruce's work in the past, see this movie. If you just like the premise, see this movie. Aw, hell, just see this movie anyway. It's fun. Trust me.
I think the best release strategy for "Bubba Ho Tep" would be to start it small and grow the release wider with a word-of-mouth and Internet campaign... kind of like this one. I hope Don and Bruce can find someone who’s really willing to do this right, because "Bubba Ho Tep" has already hit cult-status and will hopefully have the DVD sales that accompany it.
[Let's just hope we don't get five different DVD releases like "Army of Darkness" -- that just gets silly.]
“Bubba Ho Tep” is a vision of Elvis' later life worthy of the legend of the King and a fun movie to boot. I came back to the web, put on my ELV1S playlist and just kept it looping. It's still going.
Hail to the Kings, baby.
-- SPYder, out.
* Make-up tip: Put the appliance on, then the wig, then blend, don't have hair sticking up through the make-up. (I said it was a little thing.)
Next we have a reviewer that frankly did the best job of capturing the experience of the second showing of BUBBA HO-TEP, but he seems to describe the print as being a video, and having seen BUBBA HO-TEP projected 3 times now, the print is gorgeous with really fun sound, so unless the Egyptian was showing a video print, which nobody else has mentioned, then this guy's a bit loopy, you judge...
Hey Harry and Mori,
Just returned from an exhausting night in Hollywood. As you mentioned last week on the site, the Egyptian Theatre was holding a screening of Big Chin's new film, Bubba Ho-Tep. The 7:30 show had been sold out for quite a while, but luckily they added a 10:30 screening and I preordered tickets.
So right after I got off work I grabbed my Evil Dead: Book of the Dead DVD, along with one of my friends, made the trek down the 101 from the Valley to Hollywood. It was about 7:15 when we arrived. Great. Three hours of waiting. Got some burgers at Mel's Drive in, and walked around checking out the local color. Passed by the switch that Jimmy Kimmel pulls every night at the El Capitan to start his show. I wondered if I could get in to see that and have enough time to make it back to the theater. When I saw all the people in Evil Dead shirts walking about I knew the chances were null.
Screw it then. I got back to the theater. It was around 9 o'clock by then. There were probably ten people in line at that point. I was standing in the Autograph line; we were told Bruce would be out after the first screening to sign. Awesome. And here I thought I'd have to track him down and force him to sign it. Perhaps catch him off guard. Hope he didn't bring the chain saw with him. After thirty minutes or so waiting in that line, someone came out and said that unfortunately Bruce would not be signing anything. That god damn pussy. Poor Mr. Ash couldn't go out and sign some stuff. Did has hand hurt? Awwww...
Oh, well. The line for the showing began to grow, so we merged over to the front of it. As I stood there waiting and waiting for the time to pass, I heard from behind me some guy talking to his buddy saying something along the lines of "he posted up that morning that he had read the Hulk script and would be posting a review later. He said it was great..." Of course I recognized who this was and quickly turned around and said "Harry Knowles sucks cock." I think thats kind of the code for AICN fans. (HARRY NOTE: Actually the code phrase is: "Harry Knowles? That Bloated Sellout Sucks Cocks In Hell!") Yell out how Hollywood's annoying, red haired, step child enjoys giving felatio to other men, often one's who are a part of god awful films.
Finally, the previous screening let out. By then the line had grown to at least a couple hundred people from what I could see. People from the 7:30 show lingered around, video taping and taking pictures. I spotted a couple of people who were in Phantasm and this hot blonde who I later found out was in Bubba Ho-Tep, when I saw her bend over on screen. "I've seen that ass before. hmmmm..."
Then they let us in to theater and I was able to give my tired feet a much deserved rest. I had never been to the Egyptian Theatre before. It's quite nice. Stadium seating, second level, and even the front rows slanted upwards so you could actually see the screen without needing a neck brace afterwards. We took our seats in the center of the third row, as that would give us a perfect view of when Bruce and director, Don Coscarelli came out to intro the movie and take a few questions.
One of the theater people came out and told us all about the kind of screenings that are shown there and how we should all join their mailing list to be a part of it. Then she introduced Coscarelli. He came out and talked a little about the film, how he wanted to reveal to the world what truly happened to the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Everyone snickered along. Then the moment everyone was there for came to present. Coscarelli introduced the man who's chin could kill, Bruce Campbell. Wild applause broke out and out came Bruce. Before even saying a word he started out with the much beloved Stooges move of grabbing the back of his shirt and flipping himself over. While not a stooge expert, I think it's called the Shemp Maneuver, or should be if it's not.
Then came the obvious hollars from the audience: "Ash Rules!" and "Hail to the King Baby". It was actually only one guy who did this and Bruce took note of it. He put the idiot in his place by telling a story about him being in a screening of old Star Trek bloopers and hearing some guy yelling, if I remember correctly, "Shit Piss Twat," over and over again. He told us how he turned around told the guy he was going to kick his ass, and the heckler took his challenge. To bad for Bruce was that this guy was with a gang of tough college students, while all he had was Sam Raimi and a couple of other weaklings. He ended up punching someone else, getting tackled, and having his wallet taken. "So do you want to mess with me?!" We all had a good laugh.
Then there was some Q&A. One guy asked if he had been approached to play Superman, and he answered with "what? a geriatric Superman. No, I haven't been approached to play Superman." One guy in the front row asked if he would say "Groovy." "Will I say Groovy? What's your name?" He answered but I don't remember what he said. It may have been Bradley. "Well Bradley, do I look like your dancing monkey boy?!" They brought on an enthused applause from the audience. He was nice enough to take a picture with a girl up front and made sure to let the rest of the audience to take pictures as well, and keep it as a representative thing. Another girl in the back asked if he was single. He asked her to move into the light, then quickly answered he was married.
They did a little talking about the film, about how it was made for very little money and that you wont be seeing any big conglomerates pitching in in the movie (Though at one point the two main characters eat Baby Ruth bars). Before running off to start the movie Coscarelli asked if Bruce would be starring in any movies soon involving chain saws. Bruce quickly grabbed the microphone and told him to shut up. Like he doesn't get that question enough. They left, and though the website said they would be there after the show for more Q&A, I could tell from their departure that they sadly would not be coming back.
Well, following the AICN structure of writing, I've managed to write on and on about basically nothing. So on to the movie. I'll keep this short. You know the plot. Elvis and JFK fight a Mummy in a Retirement Home. There are moments of the movie that are classic Bruce comedy. If the whole movie had been like that it would have been much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, the movie tried to be way to serious with what it was. Elvis constantly had inner monologues about how he missed Priscilla and Lisa Marie. How life meant nothing. How he missed being big. We get some flashbacks on how he ended up being in the Mud Creek retirement home, and while funny they go along with the whole taking this way to seriously. How the hell do they expect us to take a Mummy that sucks souls out of ass of an convalescent seriously. The whole thing gets tired real fast. You laugh out loud at the cheapness of the bug creatures and Campbell's Elvis moves, but you have to deal with a very hollow plot that tries so very hard to pull you in.
Before you burn me at the stake for saying crap about the man who is a God in the message boards, just hear me out. This movie is bad. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. But aren't most Campbell films bad? Poorly made, poorly acted, but thats why we love his movies. It's the kind of cheese that ends up being cult film. Campbell's Elvis is quite impressive, I'll give him that. Campbell is great in the film. He delivers the kind of comedy we've come to expect from him. He's "takin care of bidness," yeah "TCB" all the way. But the film just doesn't equally deliver. It's no surprise to me why this film hasn't been picked up by a studio, even though studios release mainstream crap every week that is often worse. This is definitely one of those low budget films that, if it makes it to dvd, will join the other cult movies as fun, after midnight viewing.
The worse thing had to be the presentation of the film. Sure it's an indie film, but it was obviously shown from a VHS tape with tons of grain and many sound problems. While I hardly think it was worth the nine bucks it cost to see it, I'll take the great appearance by Campbell as a fair trade (though I never did get my Necronomicon signed).
If you post this call me Zod's Illegitimate Son.