Getting the best of you.
Getting the best of you.
Illustration for article titled ​Midnight Movie: Bubba Ho-Tep

This is it, Backtalk. This is the film you've been waiting for your entire life.

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Okay, maybe it's not that. But if you're looking for something different from everything else then here's something quite unique. It's a difficult if not impossible film to categorize. Indulge me for a minute...

Illustration for article titled ​Midnight Movie: Bubba Ho-Tep
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Cult hero Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Burn Notice) plays Elvis. Yes, Elvis. Elvis finds himself an old man in an East Texas nursing home after trading places with an impersonator years before in an effort to escape the life he had created for himself. After his replacement dies and he suffers a debilitating hip break, he's forced to live out his life in obscurity, and has found himself withering away in the Shady Rest Home. He's reflective, pensive, depressed and has a (cancerous?) growth on the most unwanted of areas.

"Never, but never, fuck with the King. "

The home is a rather dark place with an even darker problem. It's residents are being quietly killed off by an Egyptian mummy who survives by consuming their souls. Wait....It gets better...

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Illustration for article titled ​Midnight Movie: Bubba Ho-Tep

Elvis, sparked back to life by a renewed sense of purpose, is joined in his quest to discover and confront the evil mummy by fellow resident, former President John F. Kennedy. JFK is played by cultural icon and actor extraordinaire Ossie Davis. "But Ossie Davis is quite black," you are hopefully saying to yourself. Yes. And when Elvis points this out to him he tells him that after Lyndon Johnson faked his assassination he had him dyed so that no one would ever believe him if he tried to reveal the truth.

"Shit! Get old, you can't even cuss someone and have it bother 'em. Everything you do is either worthless or sadly amusing."

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I know this all sounds ridiculous, and it's why I say that it's a hard film to describe. It has a mummy so it's horror. It's quite funny at times, but it's not a comedy... And definitely not a horror comedy a la Tucker and Dale vs Evil. It has elements of thrillers and westerns. In many ways it's a serious drama. If you can accept the story and characters at face value, and take the film on its own terms you're going to experience something special.

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It's actually a multilayered story, dealing with philosophical issues about life, the choices we make, regret, redemption, and especially what it's like to grow old in a failing body and face your own impending mortality. Elvis realizes that he pissed away all that he had, and that it wasn't as bad as his self-pity led him to believe. He and JFK both deeply regret that they were not there for their children. If you're at all familiar with genre-bending author Joe Lansdale, whose short story is the basis of the movie then you'll understand how all this jibes with a film that contains Elvis, JFK, and a soul-sucking mummy. Beyond that you'll have to take my word for it, or maybe that of the much more eloquent Roger Ebert.

Where'd my youth go? Why didn't fame hold off old age and death? Why the hell did I leave the fame in the first place and do I want it back, and could I have it back? And if I could, would it make any damned difference?

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It was a passion project for all involved. Shot on a shoestring budget of $500,000 it's a testament the devotion of everyone involved to the material. Effects were done at cost, and Campbell even took one of the only prints they could afford to make with him to show on his book tour for his autobiography. Festivals even offered money up front to have additional prints made so they could screen it. They couldn't even afford to license a single Elvis song or movie to include.

Trailer:

This was just on Netflix the other day, but I can't find it now. I didn't want to scrap the post though and it's definitely worth a couple bucks for the rental if you feel like watching something out of the ordinary . You can find available rental sources here.

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Illustration for article titled ​Midnight Movie: Bubba Ho-Tep
Illustration for article titled ​Midnight Movie: Bubba Ho-Tep

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