Irish Film Institute -Bubba Ho-Tep

Bubba Ho-Tep

Director: Don Coscarelli

U.S.A.| 2003. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 92 mins.

It’s not often that you see a movie that features Elvis, John F Kennedy and a soul-sucking Egyptian mummy, but this cheap and cheerful comedy-horror ?lm delivers on all three counts. Based on a short story by cult author Joe R Lansdale, and directed by Phantasm helmer Don Coscarelli, Bubba Ho-Tep casts genre favourite Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead) as an Elvis impersonator who claims to have agreed a life-swap with the since-deceased ‘King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ some years before. Now he’s languishing in an East Texas old folks’ home, together with sprightly fellow inmate ‘Jack’ Kennedy (Ossie Davis), who apparently survived Lee Harvey Oswald’s assassination attempt and was then dyed black as the ultimate disguise.
In between trying to convince the home’s sceptical nursing staff that they are who they say they are, and whiling away their dwindling twilight years, the pair discover that an Egyptian mummy in cowboy boots and hat has been helping himself to the souls of their fellow residents. It’s a handy arrangement: since the geriatric population of the home are expected to leave the place feet-?rst, their premature demise occasions little comment. But the Zimmer frame-pushing Elvis and the wheelchair-bound ‘Jack’ are not about to take all this laying down. So they fashion themselves a makeshift ?amethrower fuelled with rubbing alcohol, set their alarm clocks for the early hours of the morning, and fearlessly seek out the soul-sucking Egyptian dude.
The ?lm’s budgetary limitations are evident in the makeshift monster make-up and talky script, but there’s plenty of scatological humour and knockabout fun (Elvis’s battles a giant ?ying scarab beetle armed only with an empty bedpan) to get one through the slower passages.

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