Sunday, 10 November 2013

Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)

The whole notion of the film has that cult comic book vibe and feels like a silly spin off from something else. It does sound like one of those cool ideas that you've heard about from the comic book world, that you'd think would be awesome as a film...but it probably won't ever get made, a bit like 'Freddy vs Jason vs Ash'.

Yet despite that this is one of those ideas that reads well on paper, would work well in comic book/graphic novel form, but for some reason hasn't translated that well onto film. The plot is fast n loose and unfortunately doesn't really give you much info. An aged Elvis living in a crappy retirement home (he swapped places with an Elvis impersonator to escape the limelight) must do battle with an ancient Egyptian mummy who is sucking the old folk dry of their souls. I use the word battle loosely.

It sounds friggin' awesome, then you read it stars Bruce Campbell as Elvis and things just get better and better. This could almost be some kind of weird alternative dimension for his Ash character...if you really really try to think of it that way. It sounds ultra cool and seeing Campbell as an old Elvis (and young) is ultra cool, even though he kinda looks like Kevin Costner's Elvis impersonator from '3000 Miles to Graceland'. Its not an accurate depiction of Elvis of course, more of a comic book version with added Raimi-esque spice n dialog. Yep Campbell will forever be associated with his quirky Evil Dead hero character...especially in quirky horror comedies such as this.

The problem for me with the film is how slow it is and the fact nothing much really happens. There is a lot about Elvis and how he suffers in his old age, he reminisces about his fame and youth and generally moans a lot. At times it is amusing for sure but there comes a point when I just wanted something to actually happen. When it does it kinda feels unexplained and a bit of an anti climax really. The fact Elvis needs a zimmer frame (walker) to walk all the time restricts the films excitement potential also. The whole mummy side of it just isn't laid out right frankly, no real reasons for its occurrence, no proper closure, no reasons for its actions etc...its just there and dressed as a cowboy for some reason.

The film is also kinda drab looking throughout which is a bit depressing. I know that's part of the films story but I did yearn to see some brighter visuals and a bit more colour. I think they downplayed Elvis's room and the retirement home, it didn't need to be so shitty looking, old fashioned sure but not so shitty.

Eventually we come to the showdown at the end and I was kinda expecting something a bit special, it sorta builds up to it. But alas!!! its very weak and pretty mundane despite Campbell's verbal quips. Two old men, one in an electric wheelchair and the other who can hardly walk without a zimmer frame, both take on a mummy who also walks very very slowly and does not a lot (doesn't even look that good either). It doesn't sound too great does it, and in all honesty it isn't, its unique and quirky but ultimately a let down. The finale is sombre and acceptable but feels right admittedly.

This is how the entire film feels for me really, its a wicked idea and probably works much better as a graphic novel. Campbell looks good and sounds good as Elvis and saves the film completely, without him it would be B-movie trash, well the film is a B-movie really, a B-movie with Bruce Campbell in it. Overall I can see how this has become a total cult classic with its Evil Dead-esque cheap looking visuals and theme and I will give it plus points for that. On the other hand I do think director Coscarelli is riding on the coattails of the Evil Dead/Raimi franchise a bit too much.

'Don't make me use my stuff on ya, baby!'