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Bubba Ho-Tep

9. Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

You know when you are watching a Don Coscarelli film, outlandish plots and usually some kind of practical creepy crawly primitively crossing a floor at one point or another. After the Phantasm and Beastmaster films and before John Dies at the End, Coscarelli turned to pulp horror author Joe R.Lansdale to make a film out of his short story Bubba Ho-Tep, a story born to be a cult smash. An ageing Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) is hiding out and living a humiliating existence in an elderly care home passing time with a man who says he is JFK (Ossie Davis) despite being black. Their mojos are revived when some kind of ancient Egyptian ghoul starts to suck the souls out of the residents. Elvis sees this as his chance to go out with some dignity instead of going out slowly with a memory full of regret and is galvanised back to his old self, albeit someone who has to use a walker to get around. The effects are cheap and low-budget so are not overly impressive but in all honesty, it doesn’t matter when everything else surrounding these aspects is so damn good.

The mummy in cowboy boots and hat just about gets by as an effect thanks to the actor playing him and the sound effects. Where the film really scores is in the performances, especially by cult hero Campbell. Bubba Ho-Tep feels like it came out ten years too late and right on the cusp of when what becomes ‘cult’ was being redefined thanks to the internet. If it had come out in the early 90s or late 80s then it’s likely Bruce Campbell would have a very different career right now. His version of Elvis, bitter and twisted and facing his one last bite of the apple, is spot on and rarely has a film classed as ‘horror’ been as moving and full of pathos as this one. Sadly after this, Campbell and Coscarelli fell out and Campbell distanced himself from the sequel “Bubba Nosferatu” which would have been a prequel. Even though Ron Perlman was connected to replace Campbell, the film has yet to go into production.

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