Sunday, 24 February 2013

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

An elderly Elvis Presley, his real identity SO secret that he is the only one left who actually remembers it (or does he?), and an elderly, and coloured, JFK join forces against a soul-sucking mummy in one of the finest cult movies to attain major success (in rental/DVD purchase terms, at least) in recent years, thanks to word of mouth and unflagging fan support.

Is it cult? Is it any good? Many fans would give a resounding yes as an answer to one or both of those questions. I do too. It shows writer-director Don Coscarelli ( who wrote the script based on a short story by Joe R. Lansdale) as a man with more up his sleeve than deadly metal balls (re: Phantasm, for the uninitiated). Although I, like many other Phantasm fans, want another instalment in that franchise I will be more than happy if he keeps directing movies as good as this one and John Dies At The End.

A fantastic performance from Bruce Campbell, superbly supported by Ossie Davis (R.I.P.), holds this film together. The two men have fun with their characters, but also show a real warmth and vulnerability. Considering who they are supposed, or believe themselves, to be, that's no small feat. Ella Joyce deserves a mention as a nurse looking after the men while Bob Ivy has the thankless task of playing the titular villain.

A giant, flying scarab beetle, a mummy sucking souls from an orifice that you wouldn't think fit for that purpose, the King, a black JFK, it all sounds like kooky, camp fun but what really sets this film in your memories is the emotional core.

It's about taking one last stand, it's about the fleeting moments of happiness we look back on in our old age and either regret because we made mistakes afterwards or regret because we can't have them back, it's about finding strength when you've spent so long accepting your fragility and, in a way, it's about the endurance of legends (or heroes, if you prefer). I may be reading too much into it but I think this movie DOES have all that and more. I challenge you to watch it and tell me different.

Bubba Ho-Tep is showing at The Filmhouse today as part of the run up to the 20th Dead By Dawn so get your tickets here - - and enjoy it on the big screen.


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