HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Bubba Ho-Tep
HTS Overall Score:79
Back in 2002 Bruce Campbell was coming off of his glory days of the past, but the aging comedian/horror star still had some life left in him. Still does in fact, especially with fun stuff like “Burn Notice” and the new “Ash vs. Evil Dead” going on right now. However, 2002 was a great year for me. I had just finished college and MGM put out the glorious cult film “Bubba Ho-Tep” on DVD. I still have that DVD floating around my shelf too. It was an awesome special edition set with a nice slipcover, a 12 page booklet and a T-shirt in a tight plastic shell. I’m not sure if the T-shirt made it 14 years, but I know my old DVD spins as I’ve watched it religiously for almost a decade and a half. “Bubba Ho-Tep” is a bit of a strange flick, but it has garnered a cult following over the years for a very good reason (and not all of it because of Bruce Campbell). The movie is bizarre, hysterically wry, and full of charm that just oozes (pun intended) from every pore.
Bruce Campbell is an old man in a rest home who knows he’s Elvis Presley. Everyone around him knows him as Sebastian Haff, a well-known Elvis impersonator, but Sebastian knows up and down that he and the REAL Sebastian Haff switched places a few years before the untimely death of Elvis and that he has been living under the assumed named for the last 20 + years. However, that is all water under the bridge as the old man can barely make it to the toilet and has to have nurses take care of him in his twilight years. While things are a bit boring and dull at Shady Acres, it’s about to get a whole lot more interesting. An undead mummy has arisen from his slumber after the bus transporting him crashed in the creek nearby and he’s hungry. Hungry for souls that is, and the old folks at Shady Acres are easy pickings for a starving mummy.
However, Elvis/Sebastian isn’t ready for the afterlife just yet. As the residents of the old folks home start knocking off one by one, the old rocker teams up with another resident (an old man claiming to be JFK , a BLACK man mind you) to take out this mummy once and for all. That is the two crotchety old geysers can muster up enough strength to take on the weakened mummy before they get their souls sucked out of their bodies before it’s too late.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=84258[/img]I remember “Bubba Ho-Tep” being billed as an indie horror movie back in 2002, and also remember a lot of people being really shocked at what the tone the film ACTUALLY was all about when it was fully released. Those going in expecting pure old fashioned Bruce Campbell splatstick horror will be a bit disappointed. The movie takes a decidedly whimsical tone with the two old men having fun dealing with the elderly life with all sorts of cracks and wry “wink wink” moments thrown in. I mean you have a black man claiming to be JFK after the assassination attempt, but with dyed pigmentation and knowing his brain was replaced with a bag of sand. On the other hand a crotchety old man claiming to be Elvis, complete with “thank you very much” and the whole southern accent. You can’t help but laugh and giggle your way through the film.
“Bubba Ho-Tep” never lets on whether JFK and Elvis are ACTAULLY who they say they are, but that’s part of the charm of the film. It lets you draw your own conclusions and just go with the flow. You can surmise that they are old crazy men who are fantasizing about being important, or you can believe they are who they say they are. Neither conclusion will detract from the fun and adventure of taking on a mummy in the slightest. There’s a lot of flashbacks and images from the past thrown in, with Elivs taking the front seat as the narrator and main character. Mostly it’s just him remembering pieces of his glory days and coming to grips with the fact that he’s dying, but there’s also some fun little bits where he and the mummy’s memories get intertwined and we as the audience get to see what happened to old “Bubba” back before he became a nasty soul sucker.
“Bubba Ho-Tep” is DEFINITLEY a low budget film and that is plainly obvious from the get go. Bruce Campbell is in full makeup and it’s pretty obvious (even on the DVD) that there’s been a ton of makeup applied to his face to make him look older and more decrepit than he actually is. The same goes for the mummy who is blatantly a guy in a rubber suit (complete with cowboy hat and boots too), but that still doesn’t detract from the campiness of the flick. In fact I would wager to say that the creators had fun with that very fact when making “Bubba Ho-Tep”. There is a completely campy and cheeky flair that just oozes from every pore and I can never wipe the goofy grin off my face every time I give the disc a spin.
Rated R for language, some sexual content and brief violent images
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=84266[/img]“Bubba Ho-Tep” doesn’t seem to sport a brand new master like so many other special editions lately, but it still looks quite solid. Evidence of the older master comes in the form of some older style degraining that seems to be applied to the image, as well as certain scenes look softer than others, mainly in the flashbacks, but some of that can be attributed to the film being shot in dark hallways with dim lighting. Blacks are pretty solid and I didn’t notice much contrast boosting at all (comparatively speaking at least, as there is SOME), and the fine detail looks quite nice. Once we get into the light there are some better looking colors than the muted colors in the old rest home (say Elvis and his blue outfit at the beginning and his white one which he dons to battle the undead mummy). It’s a solid enough transfer, but once that seems to have come from an older master with the flaws that older masters bring to the table.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=84274[/img]Like always, Scream brings to the table a good 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless track as well as a 2.0 DTS-HD MA track for night listening. The 5.1 mix is the native mix for the film, so that is the one that I’ll give the most precedence to here. Dialog is always strong and clean (there was a moment near the end where Elvis is yelling out the “incantation” from the book of souls where there was harshness though), and the surrounds get a nice workout with the sounds of scarab beetles buzzing overhead and a few crashes and bangs along the way. The old west score by Brian Tyler is effective and organically flows throughout all 6 channels, adding some umph with the otherwise fairly mild LFE channel.
• Audio Commentary With Author Joe R. Lansdale
• All Is Well – An Interview With Writer/Director Don Coscarelli
• The King Lives! – An Interview With Star Bruce Campbell
• Mummies And Make-up – An Interview With Special Effects Artist Robert Kurtzman
• Audio Commentary By Don Coscarelli And Bruce Campbell
• Audio Commentary By "The King"
• Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary By Don Coscarelli And Bruce Campbell
• "The Making Of Bubba Ho-Tep" Featurette
• "To Make A Mummy" Make-up And Effects Featurette
• "Fit For A King" Elvis Costuming Featurette
• "Rock Like An Egyptian" Featurette About The Music Of Bubba Ho-Tep
• Joe R. Lansdale Reads From Bubba Ho-Tep
• Archival Bruce Campbell Interviews
• Music Video
• Theatrical Trailer
• TV Spot
• Still Gallery
“Bubba Ho-Tep” is just plain goofy low budget fun. One of those flicks that never got a big release but gained a very rabid cult audience once it hit DVD. Even the original DVD was pretty packed with cool features and the like, but the special edition DVD that came afterwards DEFINITELY was catering the collector audience. With Scream Factory being a heavily boutique oriented label, you can be sure that they gave the disc the royal treatment. In fact that’s one of the biggest and most enjoyable features of most Shout/Scream titles. The amount of special features on their “Special Editions” are pretty amazing. In the case of “Bubba Ho-Tep” they just knocked it out of the park. Not only do we have the old DVD special features, but new commentaries and interviews to flesh this edition out to be the ULTIMATE version of the film on disc to date. I know it’s nerdy of me, but the old cover art is available as a reversible insert in the Blu-ray, so if you’re not a fan of Scream’s newly minted cover art you can swap it out with just the flip of the insert. Audio and video are solid, leading me to give this a good two thumbs up. Definitely worth checking out.
Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Joe R. Lansdale (Short Story), Don Coscarelli (Screenplay
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 2.0
Studio: Scream Factory
Runtime: 93 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 8th 2016
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