Friday, November 25, 2011

Bubba Ho-Tep

2002 ***

My AP English teacher at BHS read us a few pages from Samuel Beckett's conceptual novel Wattone day, and those pages were simply a comprehensive list of how a couple pieces of furniture could be arranged in a room. "He could put the bed against the west wall, the bureau to the north, or the bed to the south, and the bureau to the north, or... " etc. etc. etc. She described it as a book that was more fun to talk about than it was to actually read.

I have to admit I feel similarly about Don "Phantasm" Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-Tep. For years this has been waved in my face by various reliable people as something I must see, based on the whacky premise: Bruce Campbell plays Elvis Presley, alive and aging in a rest home, having switched places with an Elvis impersonator in the 70s and never telling anyone. He and his buddy Jack, a black man who says he's John F Kennedy, take on a spectral mummy who is picking off the residents of the rest home, which works because nobody's surprised when people die in a rest home. It sounds like a zinger of an idea and it convinced a lot of the people involved to work for cheap. But I found myself let down, feeling like the movie itself was somehow old and doddering.

The movie points out that old people don't have much soul-energy left for the mummy to consume, which means that the monster is just as old and delicate as the main characters, which makes for a weak villain, both literally and figuratively. Bruce Campbell as Elvis is of course awesome, but I enjoyed the flashbacks far more than the Old Elvis stuff. I kept thinking, "someday we'll actually have to see old Bruce Campbell in movies, can't we watch the younger one now?" And like a stereotypical old person, the Elvis voiceover spent a lot of time talking about his physical ailments, in this case the particularly appealing topic of the lump on his wang. Yay.

So I gave the old, doddering movie my full attention, smiled at it in all the right places, patted it on the back and led it down the hall. The three stars are deserved, so if you haven't been down to visit old Bubba, I can assure you it's worth your time. And I'm sure it will appreciate the company. But you won't see me there.


Catfreeek said...

Yep, it's a watch it once kinda film. I too felt disappointed after the build up, but a nursing home as any film setting is always a bit depressing.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

"I kept thinking, "someday we'll actually have to see old Bruce Campbell in movies, can't we watch the younger one now?" That sentence is somehow both funny and depressing. All I remember about this movie was that it was trying to be much more clever than it ended up being. I think *** is generous.