18 March 2009

DVD: "Bubba Ho-Tep" - Collector's Edition

Bubba Ho-Tep
Screenplay & Directed by Don Coscarelli
Based on the Short Story by Joe R. Lansdale
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce, Heidi Marnhout and Bob Ivy as "Bubba Ho-Tep"
DVD Release Date: 25 May 2004
MPAA Rating: R (For Language, Some Sexual Content and Brief Violent Images)
List Price: $19.98
Cinescopes Personality Types: Existential Savior, Destined Hunter

The Film
In one of the two commentary tracks, Bruce Campbell characterizes this film as Grumpy Old Ghostbusters and that's a pretty good summation.  A cursed mummy (Ivy) has been released following a road accident near a nursing home, which he quickly learns is a prime hunting ground.  Opposing him are Sebastian Haff (Campbell), who is really Elvis Presley.  Elvis, it seems, tired of the publicity machine and pulled a "prince and the pauper" switcheroo with a dedicated Elvis impersonator back in the early '70s.  To thwart the mummy, Elvis unites with Jack (Davis), a man who claims to be the brain of President John F. Kennedy, surviving the assassination attempt in Dallas by being transplanted into the body of an African-American.  It's every bit as absurd as this synposis makes it sound.

As mentioned, there are two commentary tracks.  The first features screen-writer/director Coscarelli and star Campbell; the second is entirely Campbell in character as "The King," in which he laments the vulgarity of the script and its frequently cheap production values.  It's worth the additional 92 minutes to hear this stuff.  The production is detailed in four featurettes: one on the making of the film, one on the mummy make-up and effects, one on the Elvis costuming and the fourth on Brian Tyler's score.  You also get a photo gallery, the original theatrical trailer and TV spot and a music video.  The most interesting feature--by virtue of being something I've never seen on another DVD--is an reading by Joe R. Lansdale of the first chapter of his original short story.

The Recommendation
Let's be honest.  Chances are, if you're a Bruce Campbell fan, you've already heard of this film, seen it, loved it and bought this DVD.  Otherwise, this is likely the first time you've encountered this and if the concept of Elvis Presley and JFK secretly being alive in a nursing home, banding together to fight a soul-devouring mummy hasn't piqued your interest, then this simply isn't for you.

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