Bubba Ho Tep (2002)

Bubba Ho Tep was an unforgettable short story by Texan writer Joe Lansdale published back in 1994, and ever since then I’ve watched the progress towards the movie with bated breath. The good news is that it’s out now on region1 DVD and it’s an almost perfect adaptation.

Campbell as The King

Bruce Campbell of Evil Dead fame stars as an aged Elvis Presley, living out his last days in an East Texan rest home where no-one will believe his story. Ossie Davis co-stars as a fellow resident claiming to be JFK (dyed black in a CIA cover-up), and together they take on an Egyptian soul-sucking mummy who is bumping off the residents…

Now this might sound like a wacky comedy, but it’s played dead straight and somehow manages to be a moving and sincere plea on behalf of old and forgotten people everywhere. Campbell and Davis are both brilliant, and it’s directed with surprising restraint by Don Coscarelli, although Lansdale’s earthy dialogue is mostly retained and may well offend many people.

The DVD contains loads of extras, including a serious commentary by the star and director, and a second commentary by Campbell in character as ‘The King’ which isn’t quite as sincere. By some miracle this DVD has sold in huge numbers and hopefully we’ll get Bubba Nosferatu in a year or two, as well as a deserved boost to Lansdale’s profile. Buy it, you know it makes sense.

Mild Peril Rating: ★★★★☆

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