On August 16th, 1977, at 3:30 pm, Elvis Aaron Presley was pronounced dead. The long time “King of Rock n Roll” had succumb to a heart attack most likely brought on by years of drug abuse. This is the story we’ve all heard, and the one that most believe to this day. But what if this wasn’t the case? What if Elvis was still out there, old and decrepit, but still alive; living out his days in a Texas nursing home? Add teaming up with an African American JFK and fighting a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy to that story and you’ve got the premise for Bubba Ho-tep, Don Coscarelli’s 2002 cult classic based on the Joe R. Lansdale novella of the same name. Boy…….it’s honestly not as batshit crazy as you’d imagine and is quite clever, and of course, as you can see from the title, it got the Scream Factory treatment. Let’s take a look!
Bruce Campbell, doing the greatest Elvis impersonation I’ve ever seen, plays the “King”, however the staff refer to him as Sebastian Haff. Presley explains that he switched places with Haff, an Elvis impersonator, in the early 70’s in hopes to escape the tiring demands of fame. Whether this story is true or not is never confirmed but in a film like this it honestly doesn’t matter. Presley has only one friend, an elderly black man named Jack (Ossie Davis) who claims he is JFK, died black after the infamous assassination attempt. These two unlikely heroes team up to take down a mummy stolen from a nearby museum.
This movie sounds like random for randomness sake but it’s actually a brilliant film with a ton of heart. It deals with the fear of growing old and your best years being behind you. Throughout the film our main characters come to term with their own mortality and approach it in different ways. The main cast is phenomenal. Davis truly makes you believe he is an African American John F Kennedy, which looks ridiculous typing out. Bruce Campbell doesn’t have to try that hard as I believe he is the reincarnation of Elvis Presley, even if he was born 19 years prior to his death.
As with most Scream Factory releases, this is the essential pick up for any fan of the film. Scream gives us a new commentary with author Joe R. Lansdale and new interviews with Coscarelli, Campbell, and makeup effects supervisor, Robert Kurtzman. Along with these new features we also get everything from past releases, including commentaries by Coscarelli/Campbell and “the King”, multiple featurettes, music videos, and a reading of the original tale by Lansdale himself.
If you’ve seen any of Coscarelli’s work (Phantasm, John Dies at the End) you’ll know the ridiculousness involved. That being said, there is a true message behind this film that I believe everyone faces at some point in their life. If you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell, Elvis, or just good films in general, I would recommend giving Bubba Ho-Tep a watch. Like most of their releases, Scream Factory is the way to go.
Obsessed with all things horror, video games, comics and vinyl, Dylan has been surrounded by all things geek culture since birth. Along with writing for Icon Versus Icon he’s also the co-host for the year long Christmas podcast, “Christmas 365”.
“No wimps. No False Metal.”