I called to reserve a ticket for the Nevermore Film Festival
showing of "Bubba Ho-Tep," at Durham's historic Carolina Theatre,
they told me not to worry. "It's a 1,000 seat theater and we've
never sold out," they said.
did they know.
Ho-tep," the wacky and wildly funny Joe Landsdale tale staring
Bruce Campbell as Elvis and Ossie Davis as a black JFK teaming
up to battle the Mummy, packed the theater to overflowing.
one Saturday evening showing of Bubba filled its main theatre
to capacity for the first time in its history. Not only that,
the film generated nonstop laughter from an audience ranging from
8 to 80. The kid sitting next to me could not have been more than
14 and he howled all the way through.
Ho-Tep," an independent production, is going to be a major
sleeper hit this year if it gets any distribution. It will sell
like crazy on DVD whether it gets a decent big screen run or not.
is that this is the new century's first major midnight cult movie,
regardless of what time they screen it.
best known for his chainsaw wielding monster-fighting in "Army
of Darkness" and similar roles in the Evil Dead films,
plays Elvis so straight that now and then you really believe he's
channeling the King himself.
slightly absurd to call Campbell's portrayal of an aging Elvis
who switched places with an impersonator years ago restrained,
but it is. For Campbell.
Davis, who utters one of the film's funniest lines, is a conspiracy-obsessed
JFK. Elvis, wary of hurting his friend's feelings gingerly says,
"Ah, Jack, JFK was a white man."
as Elvis tells him. "They dyed me this color...don't you see how
diabolical they are." Something about the craziness of that suggests
the overall nonsense of conspiracy theories in our time.
The two senior
heroes are in a nursing home where something deadly and nasty
walks at night. Together, they learn that a mummy, Bubba Ho-tep,
has taken up residence in the nursing home, where he not only
kills the residents to prolong his own existence, he also sucks
out their souls. He does this through whichever body-opening happens
to be convenient.
Then he disposes
of the what's left of their souls down a toilet he defaces with
ancient Egyptian graffiti regarding Cleopatra's sexual habits.
a soul to Bubba is literally a fate worse than death.
clearly a befuddled, if still courageous old man as JFK, but it's
never really clear if Elvis is really Elvis. Campbell, however,
certainly plays it as if he's the real King.
The way Elvis
and JFK battle this creature using a motorized wheelchair and
sheer bravado is hilarious and occasionally even scary. Bubba
Ho-tep, the only mummy you're ever gonna see wearing a Stetson,
six-guns and cowboy boots, is one bone-rattlingly scary dude.
gets the last word. "Don't mess with the King."
who wrote the original story, which is well worth hunting down
and reading, is better known for his mystery series staring
Hap Collins and his gay black pal Leonard.
"Mucho Moho," and "Two-Bear Mambo." Lansdale,
who won multiple genre awards for his mysteries and horror stories,
also wrote some of the funniest and weirdest takes you can imagine
on The Lone Ranger and a comics character called Jonah
Hex for Vertigo.
offbeat -- to say the least--humor of Bubba Ho-tep permeates
Landsdale's work. His weird westerns are nearly in a category
by themselves, keeping company perhaps with the Clint Eastwood
film, "High Plains Drifter."
will be showing up for limited runs hither and yon throughout
2004 unless a major distributor figures out it's going to make
a bunch of money. It will inevitably hit DVD status in a year
or so if not sooner and I feel no qualms whatsoever in predicting
it's going to sell like tomb relics in Egypt.
Ho-tep website for screening locations and dates.
Ho-tep's soundtrack kicks A. Order below.
Bubba Ho-Tep Soundtrack
Bubba Ho-tep DVD is now available.
(Limited Collector's Edition)
reviews of more Nevermore
Festival 2004 films.
For more film reviews
by Allan Maurer, visit BestFilmFests.com
More Horror Movies
starring Bruce Campbell:
Evil Dead Trilogy
Evil Dead (Book Of The Dead Limited Edition)
Dead II (Special Edition)
of Darkness - Director's Cut
Dead / Evil Dead II / Army Of Darkness (Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell