BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
Bubba Ho-Tep and I have finally made up. I get it. I finally get why the movie absolutely works and why my punk-ass comments when it was originally released were so naïve. To borrow a line from from Gatsby's Nick Carraway, “in my younger and more vulnerable years”I was a complete tool.
Allow me to explain. When I first saw writer/director Don Coscarelli’s (of Phantasm fame) adaptation of this horror/comedy, I was expecting a much different movie. Bruce Campbell (Ash vs. Evil Dead) plays an aged Elvis and Ossie Davis (director of The Curse) plays an old man who believes himself to be JFK.
With those two actors cast, I was already in awe. I never thought that Campbell could be understated AND funny. But he is. I did not think that at the time. And I, for damn sure, never understood Davis’ skilled handling of a character that is as paranoid as he is presidential. The entire project - even the cowboy hat wearing mummy - zipped right over my head. It fit no category that I knew of at the time. It wasn't scary. It wasn't funny. It wasn't anything.
Boy, was I wrong.
In Bubba Ho-Tep, the two main characters find themselves confronted by a rather unnerving scarab. Its continued presence leads them to believe there is some serious shit at play in their nursing home. After a series of residents get killed, they actually leave their beds and their rooms to investigate the supernatural events plaguing The Shady Rest Retirement Home. What they discover is that a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy is very much alive and ready to suck their souls from their butts.
When I was younger, I rented the DVD (remember those?) thinking ass-kicking hilarity and gore to the hilt. I did not expect subdued contemplation, remorse and ruminations on aging. That was my youthful mistake as I let my expectations overtake the actual content in the movie. Critics loved it - even the ones I respected - but I didn't see what they saw. Oh, there’s some ass-kicking in it but it involves canes and wheelchairs and makeshift flamethrowers more than it does kung-fu and karate chops to the head.
Thankfully, Bubba Ho-tep has survived the initial judgement from youthful peons like myself who dismissed it once seen back in 2002. Scream Factory, complete with NEW interviews with the filmmakers and NEW artwork, celebrate the film’s release with a brand new release on blu-ray this week. Upon a second viewing (and with over a decade of growth between viewings), I am amazed at how I was ever able to dismiss this film.
It. Is. Great.
Coscarellis is in total command of the material and Campbell, as an aging version of The King, mines plenty of humor within the caverns of old age. From the puss-filled boil on Elvis’ dick to the idea of him behind a walker, Bubba Ho-Tep is all about our mortality. What is that adage? With age comes wisdom. That’s certainly at play here.
Bubba Ho-Tep is a quietly deceptive b-movie. It’s damn near perfect in its execution of poignnt subtleties and, rather effortlessly, matches its wild premise with a fitting denouement as legends come to terms with the cold fact that their culture only appreciates the young. And their fiery confrontation is hysterical, complete with a final message to a beloved figure in rock and roll history.
The film features cameos from Phantasm regulars Heidi Marnhout, Bob Ivy, and Reggie Bannister. It also features the handiwork from the same crew. Coscarellis knows who to trust and how to get things done on a very tight budget. Too bad then that we have yet to see the proposed sequel hinted at by the closing credits. Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires might have been meant as a joke, but – in the years since the film’s premiere – actually filming the sequel has been discussed. Even Paul Giamatti has spoken of his interest to play Colonel Tom Parker.
Bubba Ho-Tep is more than a movie. It is a genre-busting state of mind. Dig in, baby.
MPAA Rating: R for language, some sexual content and brief violent images
Runtime: 92 mins
Director: Don Coscarelli
Writer: Don Coscarelli
Cast: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce
Genre: Horror | Comedy
Tagline: Vitagraph Films
Memorable Movie Quote: "Kemosabe was dead of a ruptured heart before he hit the floor. Gone down and out with both guns blazing. Soul intact."
Theatrical Distributor: United Artists
Release Date: October 10, 2003
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: November 8, 2016
Synopsis: Elvis and JFK, both alive and in a nursing home, fight for the souls of their fellow residents as they battle an ancient Egyptian Mummy.
Home Video Distributor: Shout Factory
Available on Blu-ray - November 8, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A
Scream Factory, an imprint from Shout! Factory, presents Bubba Ho-tep on 1080p high-definition with a strong transfer – in 1.85:1 – of the flick. Colors are well saturated. Black levels are strong and details are crisp. There are a lot of make-up effects on Campbell’s face and, while more noticeable on blu, the details are impeccable. The special effects are spot-on and practical, making some of the close-ups very gooey and full of edges. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is crackling with dynamic highs and lows and provides plenty of spooky tones to the low-budget happenings.
There are three audio commentaries. The only new one is a strong commentary by Author Joe R. Lansdale. Both commentaries from other releases – featuring Don Coscarelli and Bruce Campbell – have been ported over. One actually features “The King” commenting on the flick.
Scream Factory continues to know what fans of b-movies want in their supplemental items. The film is absolutely celebrated with the following list of bonus items:
- NEW All Is Well – An Interview With Writer/Director Don Coscarelli
- NEW The King Lives! – An Interview With Star Bruce Campbell
- NEW Mummies And Make-up – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Robert Kurtzman
- Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Don Coscarelli And Bruce Campbell
- "The Making Of Bubba Ho-Tep" Featurette
- "To Make A Mummy" Make-up And Effects Featurette
- "Fit For A King" Elvis Costuming Featurette
- "Rock Like An Egyptian" Featurette About The Music Of Bubba Ho-Tep
- Joe R. Lansdale Reads From Bubba Ho-Tep
- Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews
- Music Video
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spot
- Still Gallery