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Guest Review written by: Darren Compton
Edited by: Alex Sandell
Note: After waiting for what is now literally years to see this movie, it finally opened... in limited release. After months of hoping it would play somewhere near me, I finally gave up and asked Darren, whose life was changed by this flick, in much the same way that Cinderella's was changed by a slipper, to write a review for The Juicy Cerebellum. He got in his critique on December 1st. I found out on December 2nd that Bubba Ho-Tep was going to finally play at a theater near me ("near" meaning about 3 hours away) starting on December 5th. So, here's Darren's review. Expect mine sometime within the next 4 or 5 days, unless I die first, or something. - Alex Sandell
Don Coscarelli, the man behind the Phantasm series, wrote and directed Bubba Ho-Tep off of a Bram Stoker Award nominee short story by Joe R. Lansdale. Don carries this film with a tight blend of comedy and horror. The movie isn't as imaginative as Don's original Phantasm, but it shows that he's grown as a filmmaker.
stars Bruce "Don't Call Me Ash" Campbell as an aged Elvis impersonator that may
actually be the one true King. Only now, instead of Graceland, he resides
in an East Texas rest home where a mummy called Bubba Ho-Tep stalks and steals
the souls of the elderly. The only person who believes that Campbell's character
is in fact Elvis, is an old black man named Jack (played by Ossie Davis), who
claims that he's JFK. Together, they are the only ones on the tail of a mummy in
cowboy threads that is devouring the souls of the elderly.
Within minutes, it becomes obvious that Bubba Ho-Tep is going to be a defining horror-comedy. Much of the dialogue is delivered in the best deadpan style. No matter the situation thrown at them, Campbell and Davis keep their straight faces...and it only makes it funnier.
The film is dependent on Campbell's ability to portray what The King would be like in these situations, and, luckily, his portrayal couldn't have been done any better. Even during the flashback scenes of young Elvis on stage — it's Elvis, not Bruce. Ossie Davis is sympathetic and stern as Jack.
Brief flashes of
Bubba's time period is shown to us, but in patches and dreamlike. Cascellari
does an excellent job remembering that Bubba's past isn't the plot, Jack and
Elvis taking a stand against Bubba is.
This movie isn't all laughs. There are scenes of authentic scares. Not "jumpy" scares, but certain shots in the film send chills down your spine. Many scenes only revealing Bubba as a silhouette, letting your imagination fills in the blanks without you even noticing. Similar to the way Freddy Kruger's face was shown so little in the first Elm Street film. When you are shown Bubba's face, it's done so that there's still mystery about it. And the best part: no cheap resorting to CGI for the effects. There are some sections that use it, but Bubba is all latex and acrylic, baby.
While Bubba's FX looks phenomenal, it's the make-up job on Bruce that really shines in the film. Some people left the theatre having no idea who Bruce Campbell was (what rock did they crawl out from under?!? - Alex the Editor), and they genuinely believed he was an elderly actor. The wrinkles, the tiny almost unnoticeable liver spots, the double chin under Bruce's famous chin. Campbell's only in his 40s, but he's believable in his 70s in this film.
Bubba Ho-Tep is easily the best horror film of this year. Bruce, once again, shows that he just owns the screen, and the supporting cast isn't overshadowed by him. It's fun, and will have you laughing in your seats, but your laughs will stall with tension when Bubba comes to the screen.
On a scale of 1-10?
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Coming soon -- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Something's Gotta Give and Alex's take on Bubba Ho-Tep!
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Text ©(Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].